Staff Senate Minutes - (approved 3/24/10)

A regular meeting of the Staff Senate was held on Wednesday, February 24, 2010 at Wilson Hall, Bradley Conference Room 2-257 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:  Michael Dean, Shana Wold, Sheron McIlhattan, Beth Littlefield, Ron Brekke, and Shari Curtis.

A motion, made by Gale and seconded by Bill, to approve the January 27, 2009 minutes with corrections, was unanimously approved. 


Goals and Directions - brainstorming groups.
Training and Employee Recognition –Bill, Neil, and Jan have scheduled a meeting with President Cruzado in March to coordinate her recognition ideas with the direction of the Staff Senate group.  Bill noted that President Cruzado’s Monday Morning memos highlight employees and students on the four MSU campuses.  The group noted that a similar size University, University of Idaho’s campuses offer E-Learning for faculty and staff through SkillSoft.  The committee will investigate and report on SkillSoft.

New Hire Policy - Kevin and Deb noted that changing the policy name from “Temp Hourly” to “Classified Temporary Fixed-term employees" is turning out to be not as big a change as it initially appeared.   “Classified Temporary Fixed-term employees” get holiday pay and if their hours' are kept under 180 hours; departments do not have to pay benefits.

Voluntary Time off - Jeannette and Steve requested the name of their group be renamed to “Leave without Pay”.  Jeannette reported that Fiona Harper, Payroll, was contacted regarding a formula for calculating the impact of taking time off without pay.  There is a formula and HR would be willing to attend a Staff Senate meeting to explain how this works.  Jeannette noted that the issue of donating time off for an employee in need, is regulated by State of Montana law.  However, according to HR, the one week without pay before donated time would kick in could be waived by asking for an exemption.  During discussion it was suggested that the Policy Manual should include better wording to clarify this issue.  Another suggestion was to develop a coordinated response system like an HR “Frequently Asked Questions page”.

Pedestrian Safety – Kristine, Ron, and Joan met with Victoria Drummond and Candace Mastel – Facilities Planning and Jon Ford – Facilities Services.   Candace showed a planning map and discussed crosswalk and intersection changes.  Jon noted that the snow removal group begins removing snow from midnight to around 8 a.m. on 25 miles of sidewalks and 6 1/2 miles of MSU roads.  Kristine will give a more detailed report at the next Staff Senate meeting.

VEBA - Carol Shannon and Kevin noted that when retiring, all vacation and sick leave going into a VEBA does not become a lump sum payment but is extended over a 36 month period of time.  The intention is for it to be used to pay for medical expenses.  During discussion the issue of “administration fees” was raised, Kevin will investigate.  This group is pushing for better education on VEBA.

MSU Within the Community Context – no update.

MUSSA (Montana State University Staff Association) – had a conference call on March 1 for the upcoming Board of Regents meeting in Dillon on March 4 & 5.  For details see

Board of Regents – Kevin highlighted items from the Board of Regents meeting agenda.  Among the topics of discussion will be compensation both President Cruzado’s deferred compensation and the increase to President Dennison’s salary.  An update to the Board of Regents Strategic Plan will be discussed, as well as, changes to the mission/vision plans from both MSU and UM.  Also on the agenda is MUS budget reduction plan.

ASGL (Association of Shared Governance Leaders) – met on February 22nd  the group will contact President Cruzado’s office to schedule a time for President Cruzado to meet with ASGL.  For details see .

Temporary Chemistry Labs – contacted no new information to be reported. 

University Budget and Planning – Kevin reported that the committee deferred providing a proposed budget reduction plan to the Board of Regents.  The budget reductions will be difficult but manageable depending on how they are handled.  The committee is looking at NACUBO (National Association of College and University Business Officers) for best practices of reinvention of Universities.  Discussion was held by Staff Senate members.  Members noted:  a) instead of energy savings going to Facilities maybe it should go to the general budget fund; b) since increases in the number of students cannot be projected with certainty, those dollars shouldn’t be counted on as part of the budget base; and c) as a general rule, departments are continuing to delay hiring or not filling positions to create budget savings.

Committee reports:

MSU Benefits Committee, Ron reported that according to the IUBC, there has been a significant increase in medical benefit claims.  The projected increase in expenses this fiscal year (FY09-10) compared to last fiscal year (FY08-09) will be at least 7-8%.  FY 11-12 is projected to have another 8-12% increase in medical expenses.  Meetings have been scheduled on all MSU campuses to discuss plan changes to URx Pharmacy Plan.  Complete notes are online (   

Space Management Committee, Bill reported they are reviewing the Facilities map which documents where everything is located.  The most recent move on the schedule is Technical Education out of Cheevers to the 4th floor of Reid.

Provost Sponsored-Classified Luncheon Committee, Beth reminded everyone that it is March 9th at 11:45 in SUB Ballroom A.  MSU President Waded Cruzado will address Classified MSU Employees. Trevor Douglas will present: Outreach – We Can Do More!  An insightful and informative look into the impact of Science Outreach locally, statewide, and internationally.

University Marketing Committee, Shana noted that the March meeting was cancelled; next meeting is on April 19th.  The latest version of MSU’s website is now active  Members commented that they had seen it; some noted that it will take some time to get used to the changed layout.

Other Business:

Kevin announced that President Cruzado will meet with Staff Senate on Friday, April 23rd.  The regular April 28th Staff Senate meeting will be shifted to Friday, April 23rd to accommodate her schedule.

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

Next meeting:  Wednesday, March 24, 2010 from 9 to 11 a.m. in Wilson Hall, Bradley conference room 2-257.