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Staff commission holds wide-ranging discussion

By Clara B. Cox

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 09 - October 20, 1994

The Commission on Classified Staff Affairs (CCSA) voted to support the College of Education's restructuring plan, heard reports on decentralization and streamlining university standing committees, and discussed the sexual harassment policy and academic-year appointments for staff members at its October 12 meeting.

Operating under the gavel of new Chair Fred E. Phillips, the CCSA heard a report from John Ashby on Education's planning process and plan for restructuring. "I have been pleased to see staff members included in the planning process and am satisfied that careful consideration has been given to staff concerns," Ashby said.

Ashby's motion for the commission to affirm "its support for the College of Education restructuring plan now under consideration by the University Advisory Council on Strategic Budgeting and Planning" drew unanimous support, with the exception of a new commission member who abstained from voting.

Wayne Worner, interim dean of the college, said he appreciated the vote, adding," This has been a terribly difficult process to go through."

The group also heard a standing report on decentralization from Ann Spencer, associate vice president for personnel and administrative services.

Spencer said that in a recent meeting, Charles James, director of the Department of Personnel and Training (DPT), outlined several areas that would not be decentralized: the statewide recruitment system, health-benefits information, and certain basic management information. "We had asked for relief from participating in (the statewide recruitment system)," Spencer said.

James expressed concern, Spencer said, with the way higher education uses administrative faculty positions, indicating that such positions are used to give higher salaries. "We pointed out that that was not necessarily the case and that if we had a structure that recognized professionals more in the state classification system, we wouldn't need (to use faculty positions)," she said.

Spencer said DPT made a commitment to work individually with each school that submitted a decentralization plan.

Spencer also said she learned at the meeting with James that the state is awarding a new, four-year health-insurance contract to Trigon (formerly Blue Cross/Blue Shield). However, she said, the mental-health portion of the insurance will not go to United Behavioral Systems (UBS). "(James) said the process would be more palatable to state employees than the process with UBS," she said. The new contract will go into effect in 1995.

Larry Moore told the commission that he is involved in streamlining the university standing committees. "There will be significant reductions aimed at making the committees as small as possible. We're going to make them small and efficient," he said. Moore said the transition process from the current committee makeups to the new would take six months.

The commission also heard an explanation from former CCSA Chair Wyatt Sasser of his vote in University Council on the new sexual harassment policy. "The EO/AA Committeee had rewritten the EO/AA policy to conform to state and federal laws. There was a lot of concern after it (the report on the September CCSA meeting) came out in Spectrum that this commission did not approve of the policy," Sasser said.

Sasser said Elyzabeth Holford, director of EO/AA, addressed the issues brought up by CCSA. "It's not a perfect policy, but a good policy. I feel like the intent of the policy is on track. For that reason, my feelings on the policy changed," he said.

The policy was approved unanimously by University Council and went into effect on October 12.

Sasser also expressed concern with the academic-year (AY) appointments for staff members. "It's a policy that needs to be looked at closely. We need to be aware that this is an issue that only affects the classified staff," he said.

Spencer said a task force would determine how the AY appointments will be used on campus and assured Sasser that staff members will be included on the task force.

The commission will meet again on November 9.