Montana State University
Staff Senate > Minutes

Montana State University
Staff Senate

Montana Hall Room 106
P.O. Box 171865
Bozeman, MT 59717-1865
(406) 994-6895


Diane Dorgan

Vice Chair:

Bill Van Horn

Program Coordinator:

Joan L. Ford



Staff Senate

Staff Senate Minutes - (Approved 2/16/2011)

A regular meeting of the Staff Senate was held on Wednesday January 19, 2011 in SUB 235 9:00 to 11:00 a.m.  The following, marked with an X, were present.  There were no additions or deletions to the agenda.  Guest, Chantelle Mahan, was present.

Elected Members:


Steve Beasley


Jan Bradley


Deb Harrison


Neil Jorgensen


Donna Kelly


Wendy McCarty


Raechell Nielsen


Kevin Thane


Justin van Almelo


Bill Van Horn


Deb Wilke



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

Committee Members present:  Shana Wold, Molly Anderson, Shari Curtis, Ron Brekke, Beth Littlefield, and Pam Fraser.


Apologies received from Justin van Almelo, Mandy Hansen, and Sheron McIlhattan. 


A motion, made by Kevin and seconded by Beth, to approve the December 15, 2010 minutes was approved. 

Committee Reports:

Association of Shared Governance Leaders – per Bill the group is working out a new schedule for the semester. The ASMSU president’s schedule is full this semester so, with ASGL agreement, a student representative will attend these meetings.  Full report available at


Debt Planning and Management – has not met.


Facilities Services Advisory – met December 17 per Kevin.  Discussion included the snow removal policy:  part 1, Streets-during the holiday breaks the streets were plowed to the center instead of toward the sidewalks.  The intent was to keep storm drains clear and remove the center piles at a later time, however it appears plowing has returned to plowing toward sidewalks.  Part 2, Sidewalks-based on the semester class schedule of students with disabilities is to clear sidewalks that would be used by those students.  Facilities will be retrofitting the lighting on campus walkway by changing sodium lights to LED lights.  The cost to replace the lights is $375,000.  It is estimated that there will be an energy savings of $9,300 in the first year for phase one with additional energy savings in future phases.  They updated the information in the Building Supervisor’s handbook “emergency section”.  During discussion a question regarding the lack of exterior lighting around the stadium was raised as a safety issue since it is used for voting.  It should not be assumed that exterior lighting improvements will be part of stadium expansion.  Kevin volunteered to call both the stadium expansion group and the County Election Department and Bill will look over the planning specifications and if necessary raise the issue to the University Council.  Minutes of the OFS meetings at


International Program – has not met per Pam.


MSU Benefits & IUBC – MSU Benefits Committee Meeting was held January 6, 2011.  The schedule of upcoming plan change, IUBC, MSU Benefits and pre-enrollment meetings was discussed.  The Dec 20 Plan change meeting was reviewed, including preliminary rates, drug costs, comparisons with other plans and proposed plan changes.  MSU Benefits will meet again Feb 3 in 232 SUB. The Committee is recommending that Dependent Premium Waiver be discontinued since Montana DPHHS is offering Healthy Montana Kids, this change would save the Benefits program $450,000.  Concerns regarding the HMK program, Delta Dental, and changes to open enrollment were discussed.  Communicating plan changes will be a major task during the spring. Members are encouraged to attend pre-enrollments meetings in April-May.  Full report available at   


Parking & Transportation Advisory – has not met per Molly.  Will be out of town at the next meeting, she will check the agenda to see if she needs to send an alternate.


Personnel Advisory Board - has not met per Wendy.


Space Management – Provost Potvin will be attending the next meeting per Bill.  Association of Retired Faculty will have an office in Culbertson.  The third floor of Culbertson has been proposed for the A.C.E. offices and classrooms.


University Facilities Planning – has not met per Mandy.  Minutes of the UFPB meetings at

University Marketing – has not met per Shana.


Budget Council – an email report was submitted by Sheron.  President Cruzado appointed a subcommittee to work through some of the issues of the Budget council.  They met prior to our last meeting on Jan 14.  The subcommittee presented a calendar for Budget Council meetings and it was accepted by the Council.

Minutes of the Budget Council meetings at


Planning Council – The Council met on January 5 per Raechell.  The Council is planning a retreat on January 28 to discuss the mission statement.  Both Bill and Raechell will be at the retreat and they requested issues be directed to them prior to the retreat to be included in the discussion.  Minutes of the Planning Council meetings at,


University Council – the Council met January 5 per Bill.  Doug Steele will be representing MSU at the State Legislature.  Discussion was held regarding Program Integrity rules, a federal mandate in response to for-profit education sector.  Such as use of athletic revenue usage, standardizing credit hours, and tightening rules on “promises” to students from staff.  There was also an update on the 10,000 hours project.  Minutes of the University Council meetings at

Other Committee reports


New Business:
Bylaws revision and review Task Force – Raechell and Bill are looking for volunteers.  One item Bill would like to add to the bylaws is an annual review of the bylaws to assure that they still serve what Staff Senate is doing and what we want to do in the future. 


HUMANED Incorporated – per Bill is a consulting firm that HR brought in to facilitate discussion regarding HR services.  Molly commented that it was a short session and could have benefited with more discussion time.  Departments with their own HR person dominated the meeting.  Discussion included improving the HR web pages for easier navigation and bringing back the super users discussion groups.


Apparel line – Julie Kipfer and Shana met with MSU Bookstore.  The Bookstore was interested and wants for form a focus group in February made up of Staff Senate, Professional Council, and Faculty to talk about affordability, style selection, logo, graphics, etc.  Raechell, Bill, and Steve volunteered to participate on the focus group.


2011 Employee Recognition Awards – it was mentioned that the annual event gives five people, either professional or classified, a $500 award and gold commemorative pin plus an award to all nominees.  The Staff Senate PR Task Force has been developing a recognition plan with no budget.  Alternative employee recognition possibilities were discussed. 


Professional Council Nametags – Bill and Raechell will part of the PC committee investigating nametags.  The general feeling of the Senators is that nametags are fine but they should not be mandatory.  Discussion including the cost of the nametags and the cost of replacing lost nametags and privacy.


Continuing Business:

Training Task Force – via email Justin reported, that he has been meeting with some other folks around campus who are responsible for training in various areas and trying to get a feeling for what sort of training they offer, who it is intended for, how it is advertised, what sorts of challenges they face, etc.  He still has a few more folks to meet with.


Many trainings are offered in person, but HR and some Finance trainings are beginning to use Camtasia to record the training sessions (whatever is displayed on a screen and all audio) so that folks unable to attend at a particular timeslot can still view the training, and so that folks that would generally be unable to attend (such as in the Ag Research stations, or the Extension folks) can still benefit from training offered.  Additionally, HR is planning several series of trainings which sound promising.  For example, one of the planned series is for Admins, and would include training for an Admin I (which new hires would be required to take) for Admin II (which Admin I's would be required to take before progressing to an Admin II), for Admin III, etc. and would not only provide the employee with the information needed for each position, but would provide them with a clear path for advancement within the University.  Likewise, there is also a management/supervisor training series being developed.  I asked if there were any plans to make the supervisor training mandatory, since every time the topic of supervisor training is brought up it seems like there is a universal concern that the supervisors who need it the most don't take the training.  HR said that there weren't any immediate plans that it would definitely be a consideration in the future.  Additionally, HR has been tracking some data on errors made (specifically with EPAFs) prior to and post training and have been seeing a significant improvement once training has been taken. 


In regards to the question 'Where do you think Staff Senate can be of the most help in assisting to provide staff with beneficial training?' the answer so far has been resources.  While we may not have the resources that they have in mind, I do think that one thing we can offer is a clear voice to some of the higher ups stating the importance of and need for training available to staff on campus, and the importance of it being as centrally funded as possible.  Supervisors and departments will restrict their employees from attending if they will need to pay for it.  Additionally, I think that we can help to facilitate communication and cooperation among some of the silos of training around campus.  These groups are often working completely independently with extremely few resources, and if we can get folks working together and helping one another that could not only help to take some of that strain away, but we could also begin to unify MSU training.  That would include having all of the training available to employees located in a single place, encourage all folks to use Camtasia to record their sessions so that we could have an online archive of all of our trainings available to employees that couldn't attend, and tracking metrics or improvement wherever possible.


So as a next step, he and Neil will meet with several other training folks and hopefully organize a meeting where they can all talk together and hopefully find a common direction or grounds.


Additionally, I'd possibly like to start speaking with some folks that offer their employees some more specific training that wouldn't be as universal, such as the water center, to see how they get and fund training for their employees.  While having the finance and admin training available for folks is great, there are many employees on campus who work in a specific trade or craft that this won't help.  If we can find a way to help their departments provide them with training I think that it would be of great benefit.


Public Relations Task Force – see apparel and 2011 Employee Recognition Award discussion above.



New Hire Policy – no update per Kevin.

Leave without Pay –. Steve is still waiting for Jo Packham to get back to him.

Donated sick leave – is hour for hour regardless of pay rate. Steve will have better information once he meets with Jo. Candidates receiving donated leave are restricted 160 hours then you can petition for an additional 160 hours.  Donors are restricted to giving 40 hours which is an IRS restriction.  Senators suggest that having a centralized list of people in need would be beneficial.  It was further suggested the Staff Senate Program Coordinator communicate a need for donated time for a classified staff member and coordinate donors who are willing to donate time.  Privacy of the staff member needing donated time was discussed.


Other Business:

Board of Regents – MSU Bozeman and UM Missoula Staff Senate leadership made a presentation during the lunch break at the January 13 Board of Regents meeting in Helena.  MSU and UM met prior to lunch and discussed common issues and concerns.  MSU Billing was unable to attend but sent an email with their issues and concern which mirrored both Bozeman and Missoula’s issues and concerns.  In addition to the Regents, President’s Cruzado and Engstrom, Kevin McCrea, Associate Commissioner for Communications & Human Resources, and Sheila Stearn, Commissioner of Higher Education attended the meeting. 


The first issue raised was staff morale.  With the rise in the number of students enrolled and the decrease in the number of staff there is increased pressure to maintain the workload.  The MSU Bozeman’s overall staff to student ratio has increased from 12 to 1 in the fall of 2009 to 13.4 to 1 as of fall 2010 and does not take into account front line student interface jobs such as the Academic Advising Center, Financial Aide Services, etc.  At President Cruzado’s request, MSU Bozeman brought the Vice Chair of Professional Council to join the meeting and visit with the Regents.  UM’s Senators were okay with having Professional Council join the meeting and discovered that many of the same issues that affect classified staff also affect professional staff.  The Regents didn’t know the difference between classified and professional saff, Kevin McCrea noted that a majority of professionals support the research side of education and since MSU Bozeman is the largest research campus it had the most professionals to support it.  Professionals are contract employees, paid through grants or auxiliary funding, and do not have union affiliation.  


The second issue raised was retention.  The Regents asked if improved technology would ease some of the burden.  President Cruzado responded by saying, “human interface is always necessary.  When students and parents have questions or problems they want to speak with a human being not a computer”.  She used the example, when leaving work one evening at 6:00 p.m. there was an employee waiting by the outside door to Montana Hall.  It was the last day to drop or add classes and this employee was waiting to assist any students that may be running late so they would not have to pay a late fee to drop a class.  The Regents asked questions about pay, not a normal topic of discussion at a Regents meeting.  They were interesting in how classified staff were coping.  They noted that when there is an increase in student enrollment the universities can increase class size or add a class and pay a faculty member to teach the extra class.  But there is not an equivalent way to accommodate staff overload when there is an increase in the number students.  The Regents asked why the other campuses were not represented at this luncheon.  It was explained that other campuses were either not allowed to attend or staff could not get time of to attend which surprised both the Regents and university presidents in attendance.


The Regents offered to meet with the Staff Senates and Commissioner Stearns offered to conduct campus listening sessions.  Also, we will be inviting President Cruzado and Provost Potvin to attend future Staff Senate meetings.  The Staff Senate leaderships from MSU and UM decided it would be beneficial for all campuses to meet and do some strategic planning possibly as soon as May.  It was noted that we have the same concerns but we a pulling in multiple directions and having a strategic plan would help focus and address those concerns.  One thing of note that UM Missoula’s Staff Senate does that MSU Bozeman does not, is that they are engaged with their Lobbyist.


Wrap Up

A motion to adjourn was made by Raechell and seconded by Chantelle.


Next meeting:  February 16, 2011, 9-11 a.m. in SUB 235