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University Commission and Committee Reports

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 5 - September 22, 1994

(Editor's note: Spectrum will periodically publish the minutes of the university's commissions and committees. Due to the nature of the material, departures from Spectrum style may be noted.)

Commission on Administrative and Professional Faculty Affairs (CAPFA), March 29

Reporter: Carol Claxton

Chair Marty O'Neill expressed her interest in meeting the Extension members in person in the near future.

O'Neill, Rita Purdy, and Tom Ryan met to develop a list of potential nominees for the ten slots available on other university committees, councils and commissions. The subcommittee limited the nominations to three per position (one from each area).

Two user- friendly ballots will be designed for Extension area and for general administration, academic support and student affairs areas. The total Extension election will be held in May. The subcommittee looked at a balance of people from all areas in regard to male/female equity. O'Neill met via telephone with Joyce Simmons to receive nominations and input from the Extension area.

CAPFA plans to move forward with the ballots and elections this spring, with terms of service beginning in the fall. It was noted that this is a preliminary list; we still need to follow- up with those who have not been contacted concerning their willingness to be placed on the ballot.

Sorensen moved for approval of the proposed slate of nominees on the condition of acceptance of those not yet contacted, as well as corrections of titles and spelling of names. He further moved that the CAPFA Nominating Subcommittee

make substitutions for any nominee who is not eligible to serve. The motion carried. O'Neill thanked Ryan, Purdy and

Simmons for their work on this process.

There was additional discussion on how to seek input from groups CAPFA serves and how those elected to the governance bodies should report to CAPFA. There was consensus that reports from administrative and professional faculty representatives on the various commissions could be circulated electronically, and if further discussion is needed on a specific issue, then request that person appear at a CAPFA meeting. Sorensen suggested that a time slot be designated for these reports and everyone concurred.

Grievance Review Subcommittee and a Reconciliation Subcommittee. Members on these committees do not have to be elected CAPFA representatives. There will be further discussion of standing committees at the April meeting.

Hyer introduced Colin Carrig, a member of the Faculty Senate and chair of the Faculty Review Committee. Carrig discussed the contrast between the Faculty Review Committee and the Faculty Reconciliation Committee and at what point one becomes involved.

The Faculty Review Committee becomes involved when a grievance advances to the provost after it has passed through the supervisor and next level administrator. The provost refers the grievance to the chair of the Faculty Review Committee, who then forms a panel of five members to hear the matter. This subcommittee sends its recommendations to the provost. Basically, the Faculty Review Committee is an advisory committee that can request as much evidence or testimony necessary to make a decision. It is more of an information gathering process rather than an adversarial process.

The Reconciliation Committee gets the principal parties together with a third party (Reconciliation Committee) to try and come to some sort of an agreement.

A grievant can go to the Reconciliation Committee without going first to the grievance procedure; or committee members can become involved after the formal process has been initiated, calling a halt while reconciliation is attempted and returning to the grievance procedure if unsuccessful.

The Reconciliation Committee has 90 days to help resolve an issue or it has to go back to the grievance process. (Reconciliation attempts for administrative and professional faculty are limited to 30 days.) The purpose of the Reconciliation Committee is to see what things can be negotiated and what balance can be achieved. It does not report its findings. One question was how does a grievant reach the Reconciliation Committee? A grievant can be referred to the Reconciliation Committee by the Faculty Review Committee or a department head. Information can be found in the Faculty Handbook.

O'Neill thanked Carrig for attending the meeting and sharing information on the Faculty Senate grievance procedure. This information will be helpful as CAPFA develops its grievance procedure. O'Neill then asked members to think about what committees they would like to serve on or chair. Tom Ryan expressed interest in the Reconciliation Committee.

Sorensen suggested that we wait until the April meeting to further discuss and make suggestions concerning the grievance committees. At the April meeting CAPFA will look at subcommittees for Reconciliation and Review and ways to ensure the participation of the Extension professionals located off- campus.

In new business, Hyer discussed the draft of the Faculty Buyout/Retirement Program that was distributed prior to the meeting. This program was developed in 1989 for those tenured faculty members with 10 years-plus service based on a state statute giving boards authority to develop early retirement programs for faculty members. Extension representatives raised concerns about the prohibition against full- time employment at another state agency for those participating in the plan. Hyer stated that this language was part of the statute and would have to be changed by the legislature. It is also not clear that administrative and profession faculty members will be eligible to participate; this will have to await a ruling by the Attorney General's office.

Norrine Spencer and Rita Purdy will present issues for discussion at the next meeting relating to eligibility of administrative faculty members to represent CAPFA on commissions and reassignment as outlined in the Faculty Handbook. Hyer will provide copies of the Sexual Harassment policy revisions proposed by the EO/AA Committee for information purposes only.

Commission on Administrative and Professional Faculty Affairs (CAPFA), April 19

Reporter: Carol Claxton

Chair Marty O'Neill reported that University Council approved CAPFA's minutes of Feb. 23, 1994, and Sorensen commented that O'Neill did a fine job representing CAPFA at the University Council meeting.

O'Neill proposed that CAPFA review and approve the minutes of the meetings electronically. This will allow for a quicker response in getting the minutes to University Council. Questions were raised as to whether there would be a deadline for approving minutes electronically, and how any changes to the minutes would be handled. It was agreed there will be a deadline for approval of the minutes; and if there are any changes, other than simple "typos," then the minutes will not be approved until discussion has taken place at the next scheduled meeting. There was consensus that the minutes be reviewed and approved electronically providing there are no changes.

O'Neill gave an update on the ballot for the election to be held this spring for representatives to the other university commissions. There are several categories where there are only two nominees instead of three. The Nominating Subcommittee had proposed a maximum of three names, but had not mentioned a minimum, and O'Neill asked for approval to have two names for some slots. The other alternative was to get the subcommittee back together for additional nominees.

Pat Hyer recommended moving Barbara Cowles or Mark Schaefermeyer to the Commission on Undergraduate Studies/Policies in order to have at least two names in each slot. Sorensen moved to accept the slate of nominees with the changes recommended. The motion carried.

The ballot will be prepared and will have a brief explanation on its purpose. There will be two ballots; one for the Extension area and one for the campus.

There was discussion concerning the length of service to these commissions. Both Hyer and Sorensen stated that CAPFA should determine the length of service, however, one- to- three years was recommended in order to have some continuity. Sorensen recommended that we hold the election this spring to determine who the representatives will be and ask the elected representative for his/her preference for length of service. O'Neill, as chair of CAPFA, will make the final decision, with assistance from Bobbi Lowe (President's Office).

The election for Extension will be May 24 and the election for on- campus will be in May. Voting should be completed by June 15, with results announced soon thereafter.

O'Neill asked if anyone was interested in serving on or chairing the Review or Reconciliation Committees. A question was raised as to whether one person could chair both committees. It is possible, however, it would be difficult.

At the meeting on March 29, Tom Ryan expressed interest in chairing the Reconciliation Committee and agreed to serve. O'Neill then asked Herb Pettway to chair the Review Committee and Pettway agreed to chair the committee. It was noted that a person who chairs the committee does not have to be a member of CAPFA, but it was agreed that at least for the first year both committee chairs should be CAPFA members in order to establish some good communication between the two


It was decided that the Review and Reconciliation Committees should be "up and running" before fall semester; however, the procedures still need to be developed. Ann Spencer, Hyer, and Judith Jones will act in advisory roles in assisting with writing the procedures. Sorensen agreed to help review the procedures and guidelines, but not serve on either of the committees.

The Reconciliation Committee is more flexible in terms of the number of panel members it needs. It can have as many or as few members as appropriate. It was recommended that the Reconciliation Committee have three members. The Review Committee needs five panel members. Sorensen noted that sometimes it is difficult to get five people together because of the various schedules and geographic location.

Hyer indicated that if it becomes a problem, then a proposal can be submitted to University Council. After additional discussion, it was recommended that 15 people be recruited to serve on both panels, noting that administrative faculty members will make good panel members, based on their experiences in supervision/evaluation.

For Extension, Jones recommended that O'Neill contact Richard Pulliam, director of the 4- H Center at Holiday Lake, so that he can announce at the Extension conference that CAPFA is recruiting members to serve on these panels.

There was a question as to whether a committee can be formed at a particular meeting if five members are not present. Hyer stated that a hearing can be held with just three panel members instead of five if it becomes necessary. Hyer also indicated the need for a training session for members of the panel. The panel should expect to hear 4- 6 cases. Jones pointed out that since this is a new commission that faculty may opt to use CAPFA instead of the Faculty Senate; therefore, a precise number of cases cannot be predicted.

The following agreements were reached: 1) 15 members will be recruited to serve on both committees. A combined training session will be held and each member recruited will give their preference as to which panel they would like to serve on; 2) In early summer the writing of the procedures and a training session will take place with assistance from Hyer, Spencer and Jones. It was further agreed that the fourth-step grievance procedures will not move forward until the procedures have been approved by CAPFA.

Sorensen commented that CAPFA is obligated to be ready by August 30 to start hearing cases and Hyer added that administrative and professional faculty salary grievances can be heard by CAPFA. Therefore, CAPFA is aiming for a September 1 deadline on having the procedures established and the committees ready to hear cases.

Norrine Bailey Spencer sent a message that the proposal concerning eligibility of administrative faculty to represent CAPFA on commissions is in progress.

O'Neill asked Rita Purdy to address the topic of reassignment as expressed in the Faculty Handbook. Purdy received messages from faculty members who were concerned with the language about reassignment. Since the messages were anonymous, neither Purdy nor any other CAPFA member could respond to their concerns directly. There was discussion and comments as to how we should handle anonymous complaints/concerns, etc. Hyer asked that the minutes reflect that when CAPFA was in the process of being established, a DRAFT copy of the guidelines was mailed to everyone in the areas represented and they were given ample time to express any concerns. Also, an open forum was held for that purpose, as well. O'Neill commented that CAPFA is being put in the position of not being able to answer anonymous complaints directly. Sorensen commented that we should serve as a hearing board, but unless a person really builds a case, then it is hard for us to act on it. Jones suggested that anonymous concerns be brought before the committee because it could be something CAPFA hasn't thought of, however, there still will be no specific way to respond.

O'Neill proposed that CAPFA determine its meetings for 1994- 95 in order that a room can be secured, as well as telephone lines for the Extension representatives. There was general agreement that CAPFA will hold its meetings the fourth Wednesday of each month, with the exception of holidays. The next meeting of CAPFA will be on August 31, from 3- 5 p.m. The location of the meetings will be announced as soon as it is confirmed. Meetings for 1994- 95 are listed below.

Day Date Time Place

Wednesday Aug. 31, 1994 3:00- 5:00 p.m. TBA

Wednesday Sept. 28, 1994 3:00- 5:00 p.m. TBA

Wednesday Oct. 26, 1994 3:00- 5:00 p.m. TBA

Wednesday Nov. 30, 1994 3:00- 5:00 p.m. TBA **

Wednesday Jan. 25, 1995 3:00- 5:00 p.m. TBA

Wednesday Feb. 22, 1995 3:00- 5:00 p.m. TBA

Wednesday March 22, 1995 3:00- 5:00 p.m. TBA

Wednesday April 26, 1995 3:00- 5:00 p.m. TBA

**Because the dates for meetings in November and December fall during Thanksgiving and Winter Break, there will be one meeting on November 30, which will serve as the November/December meeting.

Tom Baker expressed concern for the cost for the Extension representatives to call in. He has served on committees where the remote sites do the calling and questioned whether the two administrative areas (i.e., Provost's Office and Associate Vice President for Personnel/Administrative Services Office) should pay for the calls. O'Neill will take this under advisement and get back to the Extension representatives in the fall.

Hyer asked if anyone has received a bill for the February and March calls. There was no indication that anyone had received a bill. Hyer then asked Carol Claxton to contact the DIT operator in Richmond to find out the costs. Hyer will check on the possibility of sharing the costs between the Provost's Office and the associate vice president for personnel and administrative services.

In response to questions, Jones commented on the Extension Salary Study. Allen put together a committee last summer to study perceived problems of Extension Agents' salaries. She also said that Hyer and Institional Research did a lot of work on this study. The report revealed that the salaries progressed to a point and then flattened off (that was in the old system where the top- of- the- scale was reached). There was a cap put on the salaries in 1991 when the state went to the merit system. Allen mailed the report to the Extension faculty and asked for suggestions by May 1, on how to address this problem.

Hyer commented on the Sexual Harassment Policy that was sent to the committee for informational purposes only. There have been two lengthy meetings with the Commission on Faculty Affairs concerning the draft. There was discussion on what constitutes harassment or inappropriate behavior and the fact that the accused is not informed of who the complaintant is. Hyer indicated that the Faculty Affairs Committee will meet again on April 29.

Tom Ryan and Herb Pettway will meet via phone on April 22, to discuss their respective roles as chairs of the Review and Reconciliation Committees. Pettway announced that he will be on campus June 20- 23. O'Neill asked him to let her know so that an informal meeting can be arranged with her and other on- campus CAPFA members if they are available. O'Neill stated that Joyce Simmons will be on campus in early June.

Agenda items for the meeting in August will include continuation of the Grievance Procedure and the proposal from Norrine Spencer on administrative faculty representing CAPFA on other university commissions.

Sorensen asked that CAPFA not rule out possible summer meetings for as many as can make it if one is needed for guidance on developing the grievance procedures.

Commission on Classified Staff Affairs,

July 13

Reporter: Lou Ann Phipps

Wyatt Sasser reviewed the charge of the commission, which is to deal with issues affecting classified employees. A schedule of the year's upcoming meetings was handed out and he asked that everyone add these meetings to their calendars. The regularly scheduled time is the second Wednesday of each month at 1:30 PM in 400D Burruss.

1. Grievance Procedures: Mary Holliman, a staff senator, was appointed to the state task force that is working on revising the state's grievance procedures. She provided a handout that highlighted the major changes being recommended. These include:

a. Anything related to the job now can be pursued through the grievance process. It does not have to be a grievable offense.

b. Sets steps at no more than three; first step has to be someone who can make change or affect a resolution

c. A colleague or friend may attend with the employee

d. Instead of three- person panel, a hearing officer, appointed by the Department of Employee Relations counselors (DERC); employee and management will be given three names; each may eliminate one.

e. Hearing officers will be trained in Virginia law and will not be a state employee

f. Pay, job description, and evaluations are not grievable; however, they can now be taken through the grievance resolution process. If still unsatisfied, the employee can apply to DERC for decision on grievability. If it is ruled not grievable, the only recourse is legal action.

g. Employees will must receive written answers at each step, thus making managers more accountable. The plan also sets time limits, especially when employees are being terminated. The process can be accelerated so the employees are not left in limbo about their jobs. Six weeks is the goal for resolution.

Hearings on the new plan have been held throughout the state. The task force will meet in August and September to finalize report, then present it to the governor and legislature for approval. The new policy becomes effective July 1, 1995. DERC will start training sessions as soon as possible. They are also required to evaluate how agencies carry out policy. Dennis Eavey added that it is not known how DERC will conduct their evaluations. Managers will also have to be trained in the process. It was suggested that current employees need updating. While new employees learn about the procedures in orientation, current employees should also have access to training.

There was a question about the mediation process if the decentralization plan goes through. The plan calls for Virginia Tech to use the state process for the first year while the university s plan is designed. The governance system will be included in designing the new process.

2. Decentralization: This will be a regular item on the agenda each month. Since Ann Spencer was not able to attend the meeting, discussion of this item will be postponed until next month.

3. Layoff Policy: Muriel Flynn provided an update on the exceptions that the state recently approved for Virginia Tech regarding layoffs. All of the exceptions are related to restricted employees. He first gave a brief overview of the current layoff policy for commission members, then explained the three exceptions that have been granted:

a. If during a layoff an employee is placed in a second restricted position, the individual will no longer lose layoff rights.

b. Employees will no longer be placed in restricted positions that are expected to end within 12 months.

c. Full- time classified employees with less seniority will no longer bump more senior restricted employees with layoff rights.

4. Goals and Objectives for 1994- 95: Sasser handed out a list of goals and objectives that were suggested by last year's commission and the Staff Senate. He would like for commission to pick two to three of the topics to work on to develop policy or comment on policies that go through the governance procedures. The group should look at issues of major importance to the university as a whole. He asked for suggestions and additions in line with the charge to committee.

It was noted that the areas listed are broad. The group needs to know which topics are under discussion or study at this time. They would also like to have information to review before meeting. When policy issues are being discussed, it was suggested that the group bring in person(s) close to the subject for discussion. The commission would discuss, then make resolution to go forward to the appropriate person or group. A set of procedures should be set up to present a formal report with count of support and then track what happens to it.

Sasser closed the discussion by asking that people send their ideas to him. This will be the number one item on the agenda for the next meeting.

Commission on Classified Staff Affairs,

August 10

Reporter: Lou Ann Phipps

1. Sexual Harassment Policy: Elyzabeth Holford updated the committee on the current status of the sexual harassment policy, discussed at previous commission meetings. The Commission on Faculty Affairs has passed the policy, and it now goes before the University Council at their next meeting. Assuming passage, it will go before the Board of Visitors for approval, probably at their November meeting. Most of the revisions reflect changes in sexual harassment law. One change made which the commission had requested was the "assumption of guilt until proven innocent." The wording has been changed to include notification when an investigation begins. Another improvement is an independent three- member panel. Previously the investigator chaired the panel.

EO/AA is taking responsibility for training for supervisors and administrators, and getting word out about the policy. Holford will supply members with the current version of the policy. Comments and concerns are due to Sasser one week after the date the policy is received. Sasser is on University Council and will vote according to commission wishes.

2. Decentralization: Spencer updated the commission on the decentralization plan. The final plan submitted to Richmond followed the outline that was discussed with the commission and the Staff Senate last spring. Virginia Tech is asking for complete decentralization for the Personnel Services area, allowing the university to establish its own policies. One objective is to eliminate duplicative work and overlap.

Decentralization will not necessarily save money for Virginia Tech, but will at the state level. Most comments have been positive. If Personnel Services is decentralized, Virginia Tech employees would still be state employees. The process is not far enough along to know how it will affect interagency transfers. Currently, VGEA is opposed. College and university human-resource officers are trying to set up a meeting with Charles James, director of the Department of Personnel and Training (DPT), to discuss with him any questions or issues of concern. The secretary of finance says the university should have some kind of response by September 15. The decentralization process would begin by utilizing current state procedures and policies, but with no interpretation or review by DPT, and gradually developing university policies. One objective will be not to diminish any rights or benefits of employees.

There was a question about the role of the commission in this process. New policies will come to the commission for review and approval. Another role will be to facilitate communication to the university community and Staff Senate. When asked what areas are at top of list, she replied that the most likely ones are classification and compensation, the incentive pay plan, and the layoff policy.

3. Leave: Ann Spencer also gave the commission information on the rumors currently circulating on campus regarding possible changes to the leave policy. The Governor's Commission on Government Reform (also known as the Blue Ribbon Strike Force) is reviewing many areas of state government, including benefits. DPT was asked to submit some alternative plans. However, no specific recommendations have been developed and several alternatives are being discussed. Spencer will contact DPT to see if any more information can be made available to the university community.

4. Internal/agency Only Recruitment Options Within the Revised State Policy: Muriel Flynn briefed the commission on the latest change to the state's recruitment policy. Since March 1992, state agencies have been required to advertise all job openings to the general public. In 1989, the university had developed an internal staff and recruitment policy that included the ability to advertise openings internally only. Now state agencies can again advertise openings internally only. This type of advertising encourages promotion of employees and staff development, as well as assisting with affirmative action goals. The previous internal-recruitment policy required that all wage and entry-level positions be advertised externally as well as internally, with other positions advertised internally only if the department wished. Concern was expressed that internal only advertising may cause the university to miss employing exceptional candidates. Flynn stressed that the policy is optional. Unless there are affirmative-action goals, departments may advertise most positions in either manner. He is requesting that the commission approve his request to develop a new recruitment policy to bring back to them for approval. It was moved and seconded that Personnel Services develop an internal recruitment to bring to the commission for approval. The motion carried.

5. College of Education Re- engineering: Sasser informed the commission that the College of Education is being re- engineered. The Budget and Planning Committee has requested the commission provide two members to serve on a review committee for the restructuring and give input on proposals. The first meeting will be August 31, 3-5 p.m. Neal Shambaugh volunteered to serve. Sasser will appoint one other member.