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February 17, 1994

  Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

  Staff Senate

 

  Minutes of the Regular Meeting

  Thursday, February 17, 1994

  Room 102 - Phase II - Veterinary Medicine

 

 

  Senators Present:  Pat Ballard, Sheila Blankenship, Joyce Bohr, Janet

  Bryant, David Carper, Joann Craven, Judy Davis, Marge Dellers, Patrick

  Donohoe, Jamie Evans, Les Fuller, Leslie Graham, Betty Greene, Patty

  Hall, Mary Holliman, Richard Lovegrove, Don Massie, Bhaba Misra, Diane

  Patty, Mary Pennington, Carlile Price, Peggy Rasnick, Wyatt Sasser,

  Lynne Schaefermeyer, Widget Shannon, Chuck Shorter, Charlie Stott,

  Lorrie Sumpter, Tony Sutphin, Sarah Wheeler, Deb Williams.

 

  Alternates Present: Nancy Looney for Lisa Jansen, Bill McGuire, Netta

  Eisler

 

 

  Call to Order

 

  The meeting was called to order at 5:35 PM.

 

 

  President McConnell paid tribute to Dr. McComas and his service to this

  university. She asked for a moment of silence in his memory.

 

 

  Announcements

 

  President McConnell recognized guests Sherry Lawrence and Pricilla

  Wallace from Virginia Commonwealth University. Their administration

  sent them to Virginia Tech to observe the senate meeting for the

  purpose of developing a similar senate at their university.

 

  On behalf of the senate, President McConnell sent Mrs. McComas a

  sympathy card.

 

  VGEA mailed out a copy of house bill # 861 concerning decentralization.

  That bill is now dead in committee.

 

  Lou Ann Phipps, who is Ann Spencer's secretary, will be receiving a

  birthday bouquet February 18 from Staff Senate.  President McConnell

  stated that we owe her a debt of gratitude for all of her help and

  information.

 

 

  Guest Speakers

 

  H. B. Whitt, Dennis Eavey, Dr. Neil Hauenstein of the Psychology

  Department, and Leslie Thomas, a graduate student in psychology, were

  the guest speakers.

 

  Whitt and Eavey addressed the Incentive Pay Plan.  A plan had to be

  developed and implemented.  They have learned a lot through this process

  and can make improvements.  There was a significant increase in the

  number of evaluations received and also a significant increase in the

  number of employees rated exceptional.  Some statistics on the state as

  a whole follow.

 

  Did not meet expectation or unsatisfactory - .22%, fair - 1.59%, meets

  expectation - 39.60% (Virginia Tech was 38%), exceeds expectations -

  44.83%  (Virginia Tech was 44%), exceptional - 13.75%  (Va Tech was

  19%).  Out of 448 employees in grades 1-8 who were rated exceptional,

  172 received the three-step increase; of the 174 employees in grades

  9-23, 89 received the three-step increase. The other 361 employees who

  were rated exceptional only received two steps. Out of 17 sections,

  only two sections had a decrease from 1992 in employees rated

  exceptional.

 

  President McConnell said that the legislature provided funding for only

  8 percent of employees to get a three-step raise, but institutions or

  agencies could add enough money for 15 percent to get the increase.

  Why didn't Virginia Tech make up the difference?  Whitt said he was

  told that funds were not available.

 

  President McConnell also asked whether the 8 percent figure had to be

  university-wide or could, for instance, the College of Agriculture and

  Life Sciences fund the other 7 percent, while the College of Arts and

  Sciences might not.  Whitt stated that it was university-wide.

 

  Whitt stated that he hopes that personnel can get training started

  earlier next year and that they have learned from their mistakes.

 

  Senator Stott stated that despite his reservations about flaws in the

  system he feels that the percentages reflect the quality of the staff

  of the university.  He feels that they should be commended. Stott also

  asked how we can reward those people who did not get the three-step

  increase but were rated exceptional.  Whitt stated that he did not

  have the answer to that. Whitt also stated that the concern regarding

  those who meet and exceed expectations getting the same increase

  has been brought to DPT's attention and that they are going to set up

  a task force to review the process. Any concerns should be sent to

  Eavey or Whitt.

 

  Eavey stated that there was a significant training effort toward

  improving evaluations. There was a perception that they were saying

  that ratings were being inflated.  Actually, what they were looking

  for was thoughtful consideration before the ratings were given.  Part

  of the training was to identify what the ratings mean. The ratings

  really don't have very good definitions.

 

  Eavey turned the floor over to Leslie Thomas and Dr. Neil Hauenstein.

  Hauenstein helps organizations design, implement, and facilitate

  performance appraisal systems.  He has found that a key component is

  that the system be procedurally fair between the supervisor and the

  subordinate.

 

  Leslie Thomas wants to address the issue of how we can make the system

  more acceptable to the employee; how can the supervisor can conduct the

  evaluation in a way that the employee sees it as fair. Then Thomas can

  take that information and feed it back to personnel services.   She

  is going to design and conduct a random sample survey to address issues

  such as how supervisors can conduct evaluations more fairly, how

  personnel services can provide better training, and what behaviors

  are most important.

 

  The survey will most likely be given in the larger areas of the

  university. It is not designed to single out any one area but to get an

  overall assessment. Once the survey is completed, the information will

  be presented to personnel services.

 

  Senators expressed concerns about surveying just larger areas,

  confidentiality, whether the survey will look at faculty members who

  are supervisors and supervisors who are classified staff, and the fact

  that there would be a lot of staffers who would like to participate in

  the survey who won't be in one of the areas selected.

 

  Senator Stott questioned what the timeframe would be.  Thomas responded

  that it would be as soon as possible.  Right now she is defining the

  questionnaire, meeting with people, etc.  It will probably be within

  two months. Senator Sutphin stated that he would like to have bottom-up

  evaluations;  let employees evaluate their supervisor.  Dr. Hauenstein

  stated that those are administrative decisions.

 

  Senator Williams stated that she would like to see the delineation

  between those who are faculty supervisors or administrative faculty and

  those who are staff supervisors.  She also asked how many people would

  be surveyed.  Thomas stated that she is hoping for 50 supervisors -- 30

  at a minimum -- and an average of 3-4 subordinates per supervisor.

 

  Senator Holliman asked whether people will have a chance to give input

  on special or unique circumstances.  Also, Holliman commented that a

  survey on paper doesn't give the interviewer the same chance to get a

  feel for anger, frustration, hostility, and depression as a personal

  interview would.  Thomas responded that she wasn't sure she would get

  to talk to people on an individual basis.  She would still like to get

  them on paper, but she will definitely record the feedback.

 

  Dr. Hauenstein has added five assistants to help with the survey.

 

  Senator Shorter thinks the survey needs to concentrate on the smaller

  groups, because they are using it as a means to have control over

  rewarding their employees.   Thomas stated that she initially looked at

  that, but chose to go with the larger groups.  She stated that she was

  interested in smaller groups and would certainly be willing to listen.

 

  President McConnell stated that she hoped that the surveyors would be

  able to accommodate employees who are physically or educationally

  challenged.  She also said that the secrecy of the committees that

  decided who would get three-step raises was exceptional and that that

  created a lot of anxiety.  When she asked about the secrecy, the

  response was that if the employees knew who was on the committee, they

  would not be able to get people to serve on those committees.  She sees

  it as being like the promotion and tenure committees, so people should

  know who is on the committees.

 

  Senator Donohoe stated that if a department has 30 employees who meet

  expectations and one who exceeds, doesn't that show that you that

  something is wrong. Eavey responded that in almost all cases, the

  evaluations are subjective.  It is very hard to say you are doing

  something wrong.  Donohoe replied that is why we should have the right

  to evaluate the supervisor and give feedback.

 

  Senator Misra feels the survey will give us a lot of information.  He

  questioned whether there is a plan for personnel services to carry this

  on. Personnel is discussing a long-term relationship with Dr.

  Hauenstein.  Dr. Hauenstein stated that he has the resources to do this

  and has the people and would be willing to continue on a regular basis.

 

  Senator Fuller asked what action they will take on what they find.

  Eavey replied that he intends to improve the quality of training that

  they provide to supervisors.

 

  Senator Shannon said that a few people have talked about bottom-up

  evaluations. She asked how personnel or DPT feels about that?  Eavey

  said he does not know that DPT has taken a stand, and he has not heard

  an opinion from Virginia Tech's administration.

 

  McConnell thanked Eavey, Whitt, Thomas, and Dr. Hauenstein for

  addressing the senate and she invited them to call on us any time for

  input.

 

  For the record, there are no minutes for January 20 because the meeting

  was cancelled due to inclement weather.

 

 

  Approval of Minutes

 

  Minutes of December 16, 1993 meeting were approved with no corrections.

 

 

  University Councils, Commissions, Committee Reports

 

  Communications committee - no report

 

  Nominations and elections - Senator Massie stated that we need to put

  ballots for officers together next month.  He distributed a list of

  positions that will become vacant. Nominations will be taken from the

  floor at the March meeting.  President McConnell requested that

  senators get permission from a person before nominating him or her and

  she urged nominees to get supervisor permission.

 

  Policies and Issues - no report.

 

  Senator Stott stated that Commission on Classified Affairs continues to

  look at supervisor and peer evaluations.  He welcomed help from any

  willing senator.  President McConnell added that she doesn't know about

  administrative areas, but in academic areas department heads are

  subject to biennial, outside reviews.  That is handled by a committee.

  There is no reason why the staff could not supply input at that time.

  The deans are also reviewed on a five-year cycle.  She believes there

  is a way to have some input.

 

  Senator Schaefermeyer suggested that we invite Earving Blythe to do the

  presentation he gave to the Commission on University Support.  There

  are a large number of people who will be affected by the proposed

  computer network. Senator Schaefermeyer said that maintenance will be

  reduced by 80 percent.  Senator Donohoe will invite Blythe to give a

  20-minute presentation and 10-minute question-and-answer period at

  the March meeting.

 

 

  Old Business

 

  Senator Sutphin had been charged with looking into health insurance

  issues.  He reported that it took him 14 phone calls to get

  information.  He finally reached Bob Edwards in Richmond, who told him

  that there were no significant changes, which is not true.  Edwards

  also stated that Richmond got information to the benefits office in a

  timely manner.  Senator Sutphin also tried to meet with our on-campus

  benefits people to get clarification and had no luck there.  Senator

  Stott requested Mr. Edward's name and title and suggested that we

  invite him here to talk to us, and also that we invite our benefits

  administrator to talk to us.

 

  Senator Evans stated that we need to start local then move up the

  ladder.

 

  Senator Schaefermeyer expressed concern that the Source Books were

  delayed.

 

  Senator Sutphin will draft a letter to Judy Ridinger and her supervisor

  for submission by the Executive Committee.

 

  Senator Patty asked for clarification on what the nature of the letter

  would be. President McConnell responded that the letter would ask why

  it took so long to get notification of the changes, to ask where the

  Source Books are. The letter will also be copied to Linda Woodard and

  Ann Spencer.

 

  Senator Holliman made a motion that we have the executive committee

  prepare such a letter and send it.  Motion seconded and carried.

 

  Senator Shorter suggested that invite them all at the same time.

  Senator Holliman stated that she did not see the need to invite them if

  we can get a response to the letter.

 

 

  New Business

 

  Senator Holliman was asked to go to a hearing in Richmond concerning

  the Grievance Procedure.  She went to Richmond and spoke in favor of

  amending the procedure that is now 15 years old.  State Senator Schewel

  had introduced the legislation.  Holliman said she was dismayed that

  there is no one from the western part of the state on the task force.

  One of the things that the task force did was a survey in October.

  Twenty-seven percent of state employees found that the system was

  effective; 81 percent of managers thought it was fine. The task

  force found problems like a lack of answers to employee questions,

  complaints that never were resolved, inconsistent enforcement, and the

  procedure takes too much time. Retaliation has been added as a

  grievable offense. Copies of the proposed changes are available from

  Senator Holliman.  The resolution passed and will now go to the

  legislature.

 

  Senator Stott attended a mediation training session and was asked to

  supply two more people for the training and to come back and let senate

  and Employee Relations know what they thought of it. Senators Sutphin

  and Holliman will attend the training session on March 16 and 17.

 

  An issue was raised about full-time employees who are taking classes.

  University policy allows full-time employees a nine-hour limitation for

  tuition waiver.  In one area, an employee wanted to take more than nine

  hours on his own time and at his own expense, and the employee's

  supervisor told him he could not do this.  As a result, the employee

  will not graduate on time.  Other senators were aware of similar

  situations and stated that it boiled down to a supervisory

  interpretation. Senator Stott stated that the nine hours is a state

  policy not a university policy.  The policy needs clarification.  After

  much discussion, senate decided to refer to the personnel handbook,

  check policy and obtain a clarification.  There was concern that this

  is an infringement on Constitutional rights.

 

  Senator Stott read a proposed resolution to create a $500 scholarship

  as a memorial for Dr. McComas. The scholarship will be for classified

  staff for the purpose of education or staff development.  Once the

  resolution is approved or amended, Executive Committee will charge

  Senator Massie's committee with monitoring it.  The scholarship is

  state money, therefore it cannot be used to pay tuition for classes at

  Radford or elsewhere.  A motion was made to adopt the resolution.  At

  this point there is no money attached to it; by adoption of the

  resolution, we are adopting a concept and giving permission to work on

  the details.  It will then be brought back before the senate for final

  acceptance.  Motion was seconded and carried.

 

  Senator Wheeler would like the Closing Policy on the next agenda.

 

  With no further business to be discussed, the meeting was adjourned at

  7:50 PM.

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