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Staff Senate

October 22, 2008

Roll Call

  • Voting Members:
  • Kevin Thane, Chair
  • Jeannette Radcliffe, Chair-elect
  • Bill Van Horn
  • Diane Helgeson
  • Rose Cain
  • Gale Kinzie (until 10:30 am)
  • Mary Engle (from 9:30 am to 10:30 am)
  • Non-voting Members:
  • Michael Dean
  • Ron Brekke
  • Beth Littlefield
  • Shari Curtis
  • Kristine Mashaw
  • Mandy Hansen (from 10:00 am)
  • Carol Shannon (from 10:00 am)
  • Kathy Sobrepena (from 10:00 am)
  • Others present:
  • Deb Harrison (until 10:15 am)
  • Sandy Tetro
  • Sara France

Deb Harrison, who normally participates by conference call, was on campus for the Business Procedures Workshops, and was heartily welcomed to the meeting today.

Apologies for Absence

Steven Beasley, Ellen Hall. Business Procedures Workshops were underway and Staff Senate anticipated attendance at today's meeting might be low, or sporadic.

Minutes of the Last Meeting

Bill Van Horn moved and Jeannette Radcliffe seconded, that the Minutes of the September 24, 2008 meeting be approved. The motion passed unanimously.

General Business

  • Follow Up From Last Meeting
    • In light of the Thanksgiving break, the November Staff Senate meeting has been moved to Tuesday November 25th from 9-11 am in SUB 168 (was 106E).
    • Parking - Kurt Blunck responded to Staff Senate's request for further information about usage and associated finances (with respect to Senate's May request that parking be allowed in any lot - excepting in reserved/handicapped spots - between semesters and during spring break). Kurt described consistency issues, and a desire to spread the cost of parking amongst the largest possible group of people. He also spoke of a potential for, for example, "S&B" hang tag holders finding their usual parking spots taken by cars carrying "F" hang tags when "F" has not paid to park in "S&B". At today's meeting it was suggested that Staff Senate should pursue the matter further by asking for actual parking activity (with parking service officers monitoring which hang tags park where) during the winter break this year. Discussion ensued. Concerns were expressed about cost fairness, and whether the eventual outcome was worth the effort of the monitoring task. After much discussion, Kevin Thane asked for a show of hands of those in favor of pursuing the issue. There were none, and the matter was dropped. Sara France was asked to let Kurt know that Staff Senate would not be taking the issue further.
    • President's Executive Council approved Staff Senate's Recruitment Outreach Initiative proposal on October 20, 2008 and the pilot is to proceed. Kevin Thane will announce to Staff Senate how he wishes to set the program in motion.
  • Shared Governance - President Gamble approved the formalization of the Association of Shared Governance Leaders "ASGL"(representatives from Faculty Senate, Staff Senate, ASMSU, and Professional Council). The document describing its activities, as created by ASGL and endorsed by the President and legal counsel, had been circulated to Staff Senate voting members, and was read aloud at today's meeting. After discussion, Bill Van Horn moved that Staff Senate adopt membership of the Association of Shared Governance Leaders as described in the aforementioned document. Diane Helgeson seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
  • MUSSA Activity Donna Kelly, Michael Dean, Jeannette Radcliffe, Kevin Thane, and Sara France attended the MUSSA 2008 retreat, in conjunction with the Board of Regents meeting, in Butte last month. Although attendance was disappointing, it was a very worthwhile meeting. Staff Senate has since been informed that MUSSA will have agenda time with the Regents on November 21, 2008 and planning for this is under way.
  • FY09 Goals Kevin Thane suggested that preliminary goals, as described in the minutes of the July meeting, were unchanged. He formally set the FY09 goals as being: reviewing the Staff Senate Bylaws; continued focus on recruitment and retention; and looking at affordable housing, and sustainability.
  • Outreach Update Sara France has been presenting at New Staff Orientation meetings every two weeks. She has also had a very good meeting with the College of Nursing (including remote staff, connected via the Internet). Ian Godwin, Assistant to the Dean, very generously offered Staff Senate the use of the conferencing facilities whenever they are not in use by Nursing.
  • Staff Senate By Laws Review Details of Kevin Thane's proposed amendments had been circulated to voting members, and Kevin forwarded a version to Craig Roloff, Vice President for Administration & Finance, for his feedback, on October 16th. Further discussion was deferred to next month's meeting.

Committee Reports

Staff Senate-nominated committee representatives have scheduled agenda time at each meeting to personally report on their committee work. Staff Senate believes that maximum communication greatly benefits the staff and campus, and so maintains on-line reporting as well as personal contact.

University Facilities Planning Board - Mandy Hansen reported on the following:

  • recommendation to approve new building directory for EPS
  • bike pads being installed
  • pine beetle management (see OFSAC report)
  • chemistry building looking for permanent chemical storage location. It will stay in situ for now
  • design proposal for chiller
  • S.11th road improvements
  • landscaping north of Montana Hall, redesigning deteriorating sidewalks (redesigning rather than replacing as is to make a "gateway" into campus)
  • bobcat sculpture north of Montana Hall (Foundation funding).

Strategic Planning Committee - Kristine Mashaw reported that SPC members are looking at the Five Year Vision strategies and evaluating their progress. Please contact Kristine ( with ideas for new strategies.

Office of Facilities Services Advisory Committee - Michael Dean reported on an emergency meeting on October 2nd to address a pine bark beetle infestation. Facilities Services has determined that spraying and other deterrents are ineffective and infected trees must be removed. It was reported that infestation occurs before trees look diseased, and good communications about the removal program will be important. Tree replacement is integral to the program.

Benefits Committee - Carol Shannon reported that MSU's is the most active benefits committee within the MUS, and how involved it is in benefits administration. Some issues under discussion at the last meeting include

  • Situations have arisen where recipients of donated sick leave have left MSU before using all their hours, rendering the balance "lost". A suggestion is being made that donors "pledge" initially, not relinquishing hours until the recipient is ready to use them;
  • some drugs cost less than the mail-in pharmacy flat rates. Employees have the option of filling prescriptions without going through insurance so as not to pay more than is necessary;
  • financial report - drug costs have increased; medical costs decreased; expenditure is 5% less than revenue. Enrollment in managed care is up. Steerage in the traditional plan has been effective and discounts applied;
  • various retiree issues;
  • Wellcheck is November 6 and 7; Well Awards enrollment is now closed. Ron Brekke followed up on a question from last month's Staff Senate meeting: the Well Awards program would prefer that employees have blood drawn (for Well Awards credit) through Wellness rather than counting tests they've had for other purposes. This is because blood tests, e.g. prior to surgery, may focus on specific problems rather than general health.

IUBC - Ron Brekke handed out a report from the Inter Units Benefits Committee.

Streamline (UPBAC Subcommittee) - Kevin Thane reported support for Streamline on the subcommittee is strong. The Livingston and weekend routes are in operation. The subcommittee is beginning to consider potential sources for on-going funding from MSU. Those present at the Staff Senate meeting today re-confirmed their opposition to fund raising through parking hang tags.

Recreational Sports & Fitness Advisory Board - Kathy Sobrepena reported that the climbing wall has been slighted adjusted to fit funding; installation will begin soon. Fifty fitness classes are being offered this semester. The Board has faculty, and graduate student vacancies.

UPBAC - Sara France reported on the October 7th meeting. UPBAC discussed the following matters:

  • Benefits Pool Issue. MSU faces a $525,616 deficit in the benefits pool due to personnel being funded from program fee, extended university tuition distributions, and departmental funds lacking the corresponding benefits allocation. More details are to be provided and a means of handling the current situation (and forward planning) is a priority for UPBAC.
  • Enrollment Update. Student headcount is up, but the average student credit load is down, due possibly to student work schedules and/or online courses from other campuses.
  • FY09 Budget. There is a $1 million budget shortfall for FY09 resulting from the benefits pool issue (above) and less than anticipated tuition revenue. Further information regarding the latter was called for but increased graduate tuition waiver utilization may be a contributing factor.
  • F&A. UPBAC was presented with a revised plan (arising following an independent study of MSU's handling of F&A a couple of years ago) for distribution of federal grant monies to cover associated overhead costs. Fixed costs (space, library, IT, and other overheads) will now be paid centrally with the remaining income distributed to colleges, departments, and Principle Investigators (rather than departments receiving 45% of such revenue, and sharing in payment of fixed costs, as before).

UPBAC will reconvene as soon as further details of the benefits and tuition issues are available.

Any Other Business

At about 9:30 am, photographs of those present at today's meeting (and willing to be included in the pictures and publication) were taken for publication on the Staff Senate web site.

Rose Cain reported on sustainability activity by Food Service, including the fact that kitchen oils and grease are being taken for recycling into biodiesel.

Public Comment

In addition to past information offered by staff about car pooling administration software programs etc, Staff Senate recently received questions about car pooling opportunities. Kevin Thane asked Sara France to contact Staff Senate's representative on the Sustainability Committee and pass these exchanges on to her.

A staff member raised her concern that perhaps benefits might be cut to meet the benefits pool budget deficit. Sara France responded, as UPBAC committee rep, to the effect that UPBAC was considering the current benefits pool negative fund balance and is deciding how best to ensure the pool is always maintained at sufficient levels. Cutting benefits was not identified as a means to cover shortfalls, nor was it suggested that it might be. UPBACís motivation was about maintaining benefits, and MSUís ability to provide them to .5+FTE employees was extolled.

Bill Van Horn moved, Diane Helgeson seconded, and the meeting adjourned at 11:15 am.


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