Faculty Senate Minutes




Present:M. Hanna, P. Hajela, B. Parsons, S. Derby, K. Anderson, S. Anderson-Gold, P. Boyce, G. Korenowski, L. Kammerer,B. Peterson


Absent: L. Caporael, K. Fortun, G. Belfort, A. Dyson, M. Embrechts, R. Leifer, J. Mitchell, P. Quinn, J. Erickson, R. Gutmann, K. Craig, C. Breneman,


Guests:C. Powell, L. Padula, H. Scarton, C. McIntyre


To Original Minutes of 3-7-2001



Changes in Institute Prescription Plan - Curtis Powell
Review of Administrators - Bob Parsons



Changes in Institute Prescription Plan by Curtis Powell

President Prabhat Hajela called the meeting to order. He then introduced Curtis Powell, Vice President for Human Resources who presented on the changes in the institute prescription plan. His presentation was followed by a discussion and introduction of Lou Padula, Manager of Benefits Administration


Curtis Powell highlighted some of the drug trends that increase utilization:

·Aging workforce

·Health status of workforce

·Demographics of workforce

·Extended coverage to Eligible Retirees


Chair Mike Hanna asked that if one had CDPHP coverage when they retire, can they still retain that coverage. Curtis Powell said that yes they could retain the coverage as a retiree at 50% of the premium cost.

The four-tier plan is:

Brand or generic name drugs, either formulary or non formulary. A list will be composed of all eligible drugs available on each of the four-tier plans. The employee will then be able to choose which plan they wish to enroll in. The rate of their health care benefit will be reflected by the plan they choose.


Mike Hanna stated that he believes that HMO's have already established a formulary plan. Curtis said that yes this procedure is in place. He added that there is also a list of certain drugs that will require a second opinion from your physician before authorization.


Henry Scarton asked for an explanation of why insulin was eliminated from the list of covered drugs. Curtis stated that it was a surprise to him and that he will inquire into the matter. (NOTE FROM P. HAJELA: C. Powell reported back after the meeting that insulin continues to be covered)

He stated that on the subject of communication, what he would like to see happen is that if an issue occurs please bring it to the HR department's attention so they can address the issue. What he dislikes is when an issue occurs, the individual talks to fifty people, it goes to the Presidentís office, and he is the last person to know. By then the facts are out, correctly or incorrectly. If he is not aware of problems he cannot correct them.

Yes, another committee could be put together to evaluate every move that is made pertaining to prescriptions and programs. But will this help us in communicating to the rest of the workforce what's really going on? The strategy he would like to incorporate is that if changes are going to occur, he would like to bring them back to this committee (Faculty Senate) to share up front, and to receive feedback. Then the general faculty/staff needs to be educated before implementing these changes. It is an opportunity for the Faculty Senate to take charge and for everybody to get involved into looking at what the real problems and what is needed to resolve them.


Bob Parsons asked if this will be presented to the faculty/staff as a whole. He believes presenting the changes through the Benefits Fair is not very productive. He feels a different kind of venue is needed to educate faculty/staff on the changes in the health care. Curtis responded that the Benefits Fair is a venue that takes place after all the decisions are made. He feels that the plan needs to be looked at early in January. If changes are going to be made, they need to be decided on in early March in order to start educating faculty and staff on what the changes are and how they will be affected. All current information is available on the web at http: www.rpi.edu/dept/hr/

President Hajela asked how the revised prescription plan compares to other "market basket" schools. Curtis said it compares very well. Overall, if co-payments are compared across the board nationally, they range from $6.00 to $25.00 just for the generic name drugs. Prabhat said that it is important to look at universities that Rensselaer compares ourselves with, especially if the University wants to attract the best quality faculty/staff to the Institute. He added that he would like to see how Rensselaer compares to those schools. Curtis said that nationally, Rensselaer is doing very well. In most higher education, most health care plans are a 70-30 split, not an 82-18 split which is the case at RPI. Creative planning will need to be done in order to keep it at that level.

Henry Scarton said that the compensation committee's role in the past was to act as a talking point for ideas. The committee (made up of faculty and staff) would be able to discuss these ideas and work out any problems, or possibly recommend a different solution. He believes when the recent decisions were made, they went down as far as the chairs and no lower. He thinks the prescription drugs issue is a good example where more discussion might have been useful in helping to avoid problems. He was wondering if it might be useful to form the compensation committee again. Curtis inquired if he was talking about a committee that was formed years ago. Curtis stated that the reason it was formed at that time was that a major bend in the road was being undertaken. (switching from Blue Cross to CDPHP) He said that "yes" if another major change like that was being undertaken, it would make sense to pool a group of faculty and staff together and that he was not opposed to that.

He added that everything being done or will be done will include input from faculty and staff throughout the whole process, and will continue to operate within that model. Before forming a standing committee like the compensation committee, he thinks a compensation committee needs to be defined as to what it actually means. If a committee is developed to enhance the communication between staff and management of an organization, that is acceptable. (when it comes down to the National Labor Relations). However, if a committee is constituted where you discuss wages, benefits, or working conditions, it is crossing the fence and are developing a labor organization.

Steve Derby stated that why they are trying to do in terms of communication is great, be the same old problems of the information not filtering down from the Deans/Chairs to the faculty and staff are still encountered. Curtis agreed and said that the process should be that if changes will be made, the faculty/staff have to be educated and open forums need to be held where all the changes would be outlined allowing for feedback. He acknowledged that the top-down system does not work; everything that they have tried to do in that was has failed.

Gerald Korenowski asked if anyone looked into Empire Vision inflating their costs. Lou Padula, Manager of Benefits Administration stated yes, and that they have had numerous complaints and comments.


Curtis said that before any more changes take place, he will come back to the Faculty Senate and share what is being considered for implementation to make sure that they make sense not only to the Faculty Senate but also to the faculty/staff as a whole.


Review of Administrators - Bob Parsons

Bob Parson distributed the attached evaluation.


Mike Hanna asked what results he would like to make public. Bob Parsons said that the review example he handed out could be used and then the results made public. Mike Hanna stated that faculty get reviewed in their courses which are not made public, only reviewed by the Chair. He thinks the Senate needs to be careful in what results of the evaluation are made public.


R. Noble said that he was on the last committee that actually did this work. The mechanism in place was that the administrator be evaluated by all those directly affected, using a form which consisted of a combination of multiple questions and a space for comments. That information was reviewed by a working sub-committee (from the Faculty Council), and then forwarded to the administratorís superior. That person would be in charge of reporting back to the group that generated it. He would give a presentation characterizing the report for the members of the committee. Bob Parsons said that certainly something could be added that requires reporting back to the Senate instead of sending out a memo. He said that it could come from the appropriate Dean or the Provost could give an indication on how that information was used.

Mike Hanna said he is still having difficulty with the whole process. For example, if the Provost tell the Senate that Dean X has been reviewed and the findings can be summarized as the following: X, Y, Z, approval rating of x percent, and this has been discussed with Dean x. He asked if this is how the procedure would work. R. Noble confirmed that is how the process worked. A dialogue would follow follow between the people who did the evaluation and the person who summarized it.The way to deal with the complexities in this process is to put people into dialogue. The reporting administrator would have to give a presentation, followed by a period of questions and answers. He thinks it was up to the administrator who was given the report to use their judgment on how best to characterize it and how to deal with sensitive issues and people's feelings - to strike a balance point between disclosure and unnecessary harm. 


Sharon Anderson-Gold, Senator, said that if a faculty group were to evaluate the chairs, only that group would participate in this evaluation process. She asked if reporting back to the group is the way to close the loop on this process. Mike Hanna stated that on one hand, the Senate has to have faith that the person above the Dean is doing something with the information. Under the worst-case scenario, a mechanism is needed that ensures there there was a discussion between the Provost and the Dean. Beyond that, he is not sure anything further is needed.

R. Noble said that the point of having a dialogue between the Provost, and the faculty of school on the performance of a Dean, has a function for establishing communication among all the parties, allowing the faculty that feel they've been wronged to voice their opinions.This process has a lot of parallels on how the faculty is evaluated and how we evaluated administrators. The report revealed their strengths, weakness, and any major issues.It would vary from administrator to administrator.Part of the evaluation process involved a group of individuals reporting to a committee, each person of the group had some experience with the personís performance.


Kurt Anderson commented that in regards to how much information should be made public, he thinks something like what the P&T committee uses would be appropriate in that all input comes from faculty to the department head plus a few elected faculty to make sure all forms are properly done. Then they are given to the Provost and the Dean and those individuals who will review this information before any recommendations are made. Then they go back to the faculty informing them that all concerns were addressed without going into details. This conserves a level of privacy but assures individuals that their concerns have been addressed.


Bob Parsons thinks the decision that has to made now is whether it is acceptable to just put a statement into the handbook that allows that administration to carry out the reviews or does the Senate really want to get into the business of providing faculty input into the review process. Mike Hanna stated that he thinks if the Senate decides to have all the information come back to the Senate, when the Chair is reviewed, the Dean will be responsible for reporting the results to the Senate. Bob Parsons said "no, not really" just feedback at this point and that can go back to that committee.

Mike Hanna stated that if the Senate is planning on handling all in a committee, that is fine. The committee could do their annual structured evaluation with reporting back to the Senate. In terms of the handbook , if it were handled with a committee doing an annual structured evaluation of a Dean of a particular department chair, the problem he sees is that there is only one school that has an active government structure, and that is H&SS. If the Chairs were added to the handbook, where would the feedback come back to? Prabhat asked if that would require reporting back to the Faculty Senate. Bob Parsons said yes and that it would follow the process that is in place now. The Senate would have to decide on how to incorporate the reporting back to occur. Mike said that a requirement needs to be put in to establish the time period for the review, which is not in there for Chairs at the present time. He thinks that at a minimum, the handbook needs to state that there has to be a review for the Chairs at X periodic intervals. Prabhat said that he thinks the Senate is going one step beyond that. The cases they are discussing are where there may be warning signals that an individual may no be doing well and 5 years is too long of a period to wait.


Sharon Anderson-Gold stated that she thinks the report-back language needs to be incorporated. As written now, the Handbook language states that the report would go back only to the faculty involved. The Senate wants to make sure all faculty are involved at some level and a report is guaranteed to go back to the Faculty Senate.


Prabhat asked to get a sense of which option most present are more inclined towards: Either Option 1, which is adding a statement in the Handbook or Option 2, Reporting back to the Faculty Senate. Mike Hanna stated that at a minimum, the Chair statement needs to be added to the Handbook since there is not one presently. Prabhat agreed and added that it would be included in adding a statement to the Handbook. There were five people in favor of Option 1 and two in favor of Option 2.


Mike Hanna thinks there is a compromise position between both options. Prabhat sensed there is some support for trying to add a statement to the Handbook requiring a review at set intervals and to see how well that may work. Perhaps if the language could be cleaned up, a discussion can be held at a future meeting. He added that he would like to bring closure to the issue before the term of the Senate runs out.


Meeting adjourned 4:45 p.m.