Staff Senate Minutes - (approved 1/27/10)

A regular meeting of the Staff Senate was held on Wednesday, December 9,  2009 at Strand Union Building Room #236 9:00 to 11:00 a.m.  The following, marked with an X, were present.
Elected Members:


Steve Beasley


Gale Kinzie


Jan Bradley


Raechell Nielsen


Mary Engel


Jeannette Radcliffe


Deb Harrison


Kevin Thane


Neil Jorgensen


Justin van Almelo


Donna Kelly


Bill Van Horn

Attendance Code Key:  X = Attended     A=Apologies for Absence       Staff, Joan Ford, was in attendance.

Appointed Committee Members:  Shari Curtis, Shana Wold, Michael Dean, Ron Brekke, Mary Fulton, Kathy Sobrepena, Kristine Mashaw, and Mandy Hansen.  Mary Fulton was sitting in for Sandy Tetro.

A motion, made by Bill and seconded by Jeannette, to approve the November 17, 2009 minutes with corrections, was unanimously approved. 

Goals and Directions - formed brainstorming groups for each area.

  1. New Hire Policy - Kevin and Deb volunteered to look into MAP Implementation & Compensation Guidelines, 2.3.3 Hiring Authorities.  Deb gave a heads up that HR is instituting a new temp hourly policy.  The proposed effective date is January 1st, although it could possibly be postponed until July 1st.  This new policy is necessary so that MSU is compliant with state laws.  Here are a couple highlights.  Temp Hourly Workers will now be referred to as “Short-Term Workers.”  Classified fixed-terms will now be referred to as “Classified Temporary Fixed-Term Workers.”  Instead of the 347 hour and two 89 day appointments, we’ll have one 90 day appointment at MSU.  Meaning they can be appointed for a whole year, but can only work 90 days.  This does not translate into hours.  HR can’t really track those days now, not until web and departmental time entry are instituted.  Whether they work two or twelve hours in a day, the appointment period is 90 days.  You need to be very aware of other appointments your short-term worker has, because this is not 90 days per department, its 90 days for MSU.
  2. Voluntary Time off - Jeannette and Steve wanted to research how this time off would affect classified employees and whether a flexible time off option would be possible.
  3. Pedestrian Safety - Kristine and Ron agree to research options to make walking on campus safer.
  4. VEBA - Kevin will talk with Carol Shannon to see whether or not a separate team should be formed.
  5. Training and Employee Recognition –Bill, Neil, and Jan consented to pursue training opportunities and ways to recognize classified staff.

MSU Within the Community Context - Joan reported that the unemployment section is under review. The downturn in the economy is having a negative impact on the housing market with increased foreclosures and bankruptcies.  This in turn, will affect FICO credit scores which will make it difficult for individuals in this situation to borrow money at good rates. 

Board of Regents - Kevin attended the meetings in Bozeman on November 19 and 20.  Mostly it was business as usual regarding MSU Bozeman.  Budget concerns remain a high priority especially in light of the effect the economic down turn is having on the State of Montana’s revenue stream.  The Regents were resistant to starting the proposed Gallatin Community College, a Vocational Technology arm of MSU Bozeman, due to budget and State revenue issues.

Temporary Chemistry Labs – Kevin reported by email, the CORE Facilities grant evaluation score is due before Christmas.  The ‘study sections’, that do the scientific and facilities review are meeting this month.  Once we have that score, we will know if we are in the funding range or not.  Even if we are, we can’t count on it until we get the official notification in spring 2010 from the NIH Council. 

Committee reports:
Strategic Planning Committee, Kristine announced that the updated Strategic plan is available online (
Recreation and Sport Fitness Committee, Kathy reported a survey of Gym members regarding indoor tennis court usage was sent out recently.
MSU Benefits Committee, Ron highlighted the increase in contributions toward our medical plan provided by our employer (MUS) was 8.5% to $679 for 2009-2010) and will be 8% for 2010-2011. The overall medical premiums (paid by the employee) are only 1% higher than they were 3 years ago and the committee was able to do this without shifting costs to the employees such as deductibles, coinsurances, etc., which have not been raised over the past 3 years. However, during the fourth quarter 2009 we incurred additional (unexpected) expenses of $1.9 million, for a total loss of $3.93 million – we had rated for a loss of $2 million. The Committee is reviewing suggestions and areas to satisfy the shortfall.
The current rates for member & spouse (dependents) are only about 18% of what their true rates should be.  The member only is subsidizing the member and spouse (dependents). Therefore the member and spouse rates could be increased by an additional 2% to 5% without much harm. Complete notes are online ( 
Debt Planning and Management – no meeting per Sheron.
Space Management Committee – Bill reported the Committee is reviewing occupancy plans at Animal Bio Science, Linfield, Bracken, and Reid.  Hamilton continues renovations, for those using the building – although it has new windows, there is no caulking which means it is cold and drafty.
University Marketing Committee – Shana reported the Committee is updating MSU’s web page templates, there is a new MSU billboard at Big Sky, and targeted mailings are being sent to groups such as veterans, and Montana’s Indian tribes.
University Facilities Planning Board - Public Arts Committee – per Mandy, a sculpture policy has been drafted and is available for public comment.  UFPUB is reviewing signage at Gaines.  The Committee is also reviewing crosswalk standards and sidewalk ramps; she noted that snow removal equipment removed the raised nubs at these ramps.  She also noted that the recent increase to parking violations fees reduced the number of violations and reduced revenue.  The $93,000 reduction in fees was unanticipated and may affect the maintenance schedule.
UPBAC – Kevin reported investing the “windfall” tuition dollars was discussed.  Investing in student recruitment and energy conservation that saves money are among the list of areas the group is evaluating.

Other Business:
Kevin reported that he and Joan attended a talk hosted by the ASMSU Sustainability Center and NECO on 12/03.   The speaker noted that the very complicated control system in the gym is a challenge to use correctly.  Kevin plans to suggest that energy savings dollars might be used for professional  development by training the Facilities folks who work on these kind of systems.

A motion, moved by Bill and seconded by Raechell, to adjourn the meeting at 11:00 a.m., was unanimously approved.

Next meeting:  Wednesday, January 27, 2020 Strand Union Building SUB #236 9:00 to 11:00 a.m.