The Word - 2012/12/12

 

 

The Word from CSEA

Columbus State Education Association Newsletter of December 12, 2012

MEETINGS WITH CLUSTERS OF FACULTY

Last year, we mentioned at some of our faculty meetings that CSEA had been awarded a $3000 grant from Central OEA/NEA for the purpose of membership growth and development. The grant is for this academic year, and includes plans to hold several meetings with smaller clusters of faculty, for the purpose of allowing more time for interaction and discussion with one another in an effort to better understand some of the issues that may be unique to specific departments/programs.

We have already held two meetings this semester, with various faculty from the Career and Technical Division, and will be holding additional meetings in the spring with faculty from the Arts and Sciences Division and with Annually Contracted Faculty. We believe that our first two meetings were very productive, and helped identify and prioritize issues, as well as ways to best address those issues.

It is through this grant that we are able to offer some nice end-of-year prizes to randomly selected individuals who attend these meetings. Those prizes include 2 tickets to Taste the Future; an iPad or other tablet; and gift cards. We hope that you are able to attend one of these meetings, and provide your input regarding issues that matter.

WELLNESS INITIATIVES

As we communicated to many of you at the faculty meeting on In-Service Day, CSEA has been working with the College to address issues with the College's wellness initiative (i.e., the manner in which employees must earn 8 points to maintain the 80%-20% employer-employee split of health insurance premiums). You may recall that we solicited your feedback regarding issues that you may have had in getting points documented in a timely fashion, fees or other charges that you may have incurred because of medical procedures being incorrectly coded, errors showing up on the United Healthcare website, etc. We compiled that information and forwarded it on to the College administration, and have subsequently had some conversations with the administration regarding this past year's rather-chaotic process.

The College has agreed to suspend the implementation of spouses being required to participate in the wellness initiatives for this year, until a smoother process for current employees can be worked out. Thus, spouses will not be required to participate in the wellness initiative until July 1, 2013 (one year later than originally planned). Also, additional ways in which points can be earned are being included this year. For example, a dental visit will still count for 2 points, but now a second dental visit will add a third point; age-specific tests and other preventative exams will count for 1 point each, up to three points maximum; and online health coaching is being increased from 1 point to 2 points. Watch for additional information about this from the College and/or CSEA. We are in the process of finalizing a Memorandum of Understanding on this issue this week.

We do want to offer kudos to Deborah Robinson and Nicole Bowman-Glover (and possibly others working behind the scenes whom we are not aware of) for their herculean efforts at making the best of a challenging situation. While it appears that United Healthcare was not able to deliver the level of services to the College that was expected, Deborah and Nicole stepped in and made every effort to address issues as they arose. Thank you, Deborah and Nicole!

PROMOTION AND TENURE CHANGES

This is just a reminder that, because of the conversion to a semester calendar, the promotion and tenure review processes have been merged beginning this year. Thus, all portfolios (for both tenure and for other promotions) are due to their department chairperson by the first Friday of spring semester (January 18). The Faculty Promotion and Tenure Handbook is available on the College's website (in the "Faculty and Staff" link) to help provide some additional guidance regarding the process. Although this handbook is currently being updated by the OAA Promotion and Tenure Process Committee (to reflect changes due to the semester calendar, as well as other updates), most of the information regarding assembling a tenure/promotion portfolio is not likely to change.

TRAVEL BUDGET AND ITS IMPACT ON PROMOTION AND TENURE

Speaking of the promotion and tenure process…due to the elimination of a travel budget this year, many faculty have been negatively impacted in their efforts to engage in either professional development or scholarship this year -- categories which they may have intended to use in their promotion portfolios. For example, we are aware of a number of faculty who had been accepted to present at professional conferences this year, but then were told that the College would not fund their travel, forcing them to renege on their commitment to their professional organizations. Likewise, a number of faculty had planned on attending professional conferences (some as national officers of their organization), but then were unable to do so. In such instances, CSEA is recommending that those faculty document, to the best of their ability, the fact that they had either been accepted to present at a conference, or that they had planned on attending a professional conference, in their portfolios. In particular, we recommend that you include something in your narratives explaining the activity that you intended to participate in but were unable to due to the elimination of the travel budget. We further recommend that the various department, division, and College-level review committees take these circumstances into account when they make recommendations regarding tenure and promotion this year. Something like this -- that is completely beyond the faculty member's control -- should not be a deciding factor as to whether or not someone is recommended for tenure or promotion.

It is our understanding that the OAA Promotion and Tenure Process Committee is also looking at this issue, and may come out with a similar recommendation to be conveyed directly to the review committees.

CCSSE SURVEY

Attached to this email is a memo to all faculty from Dr. Greg Goodhart, who is helping to coordinate the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) that the College will be participating in this spring semester. Information about the survey, as well as a link to the results from our 2010 survey, are included in his memo.

MORE ON MOOCS

For those of you who continue to follow stories and developing information about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), here is a link to a segment about them that appeared on Monday's episode of NBC's Today Show:

http://video.today.msnbc.msn.com/today/50144621/#50144621

Also, there will be a webinar titled "MOOCs for the Rest of Us" on January 22 at 2:00 PM. The event is sponsored by Inside Higher Ed and will feature two experts from the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education leading a discussion about MOOCs. It is likely that Columbus State will participate in this webinar, and may be able to accommodate a large number of faculty who might be interested in attending. We are still coordinating this effort with Tom Erney, but watch for additional information about this opportunity, either in the institutional Update or in an email from CSEA.

STRS CHANGES

As you are likely aware, the state legislature finally passed a reform bill intended to stabilize the five state pension systems. The STRS Board originally proposed changes to its plan as far back as October 2010. The original proposal included increasing the amount of employee salaries that are paid into the system by 4%, with the increase being evenly split between the employer (2% pickup) and the employee (2% pickup). Upon assuming office in January 2011, Governor Kasich rejected that proposal, and insisted that any increases in the amount paid into the system be paid entirely by employees. The legislature also insisted on changes to the eligibility ages for retirement (increasing both the minimum years of service for an unreduced benefit, and the penalties for early retirement). Other changes included decreasing the annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) and implementing a longer waiting period before being eligible for the COLA; eliminating the enhanced benefit for years of service greater than 35; and increasing the number of years used to compute the Final Average Salary (FAS) from three to five, thus reducing everyone's FAS.

The state legislature delayed acting on the Board's recommendations for almost two years, and each delay seemed to result in more drastic changes being required to stabilize the systems. The state Senate passed a bill with bipartisan support (31 in support, 2 opposed), but the state House continued to delay until an actuarial report was issued. These delays are reported to have cost the retirement systems over $1,000,000 per day. In July, the actuarial report was issued, and it offered the state House two options. One of those options was to essentially implement the drastic changes that had been passed by the Senate, and to give some authority to the retirement boards to make future benefit changes as needed. The other was to make even more drastic changes now ("greater cuts than currently needed to provide a margin for future adverse experience"), which would also have resulted in further delays and even more drastic cuts. We communicated to you that OEA opposed the second option, which would have resulted in even more drastic cuts, and supported enacting the legislation that had already been passed by the Senate. Every previous delay resulted in more draconian cuts being proposed, and it was clear that further delays at this time would be no different. Ultimately, the legislature did pass the Senate version of the changes.

The pension reform that is now being enacted includes many drastic changes to the system. Most of these changes were clearly communicated by STRS. There was no doubt that we would begin paying an additional 1% of our salaries toward our pension each year for the next four years, beginning on July 1, 2013. We knew that the minimum years of service was increasing from 30 to 35, being phased in over an 8-year period. We were told that the minimum age for retiring with an unreduced benefit was simultaneously being increased from 55 to 60. We knew the FAS formula was changing, and that the COLA was being decreased.

One important piece that was not transparent at the time was how the penalty for early retirement would be computed -- all we were being told was that members may still retire early, but that their "pension benefit would be permanently reduced using an actuarial formula." CSEA members should be aware that in the legislature's efforts to discourage early retirements and increase the minimum retirement age from 55 to 60, the actuarial formula for reducing the benefit is itself quite drastic. Members who are on the cusp of being able to retire under the old system by July 1, 2015 would be impacted the most, with some FAS computations resulting in a loss of more than $1,500 per month in retirement benefits, if one were to retire at the earliest possible date. The result will be that employees who had planned on retiring early, but barely miss the July 1, 2015 deadline, will in many cases have to work additional years before being able to retire.

Faculty who are considering retiring in the coming years should schedule a meeting with STRS. Employees of STRS can walk through various scenarios with you, and help you plan for your retirement.

CSEA is interested in knowing how the pension reform has affected our members. If you have already met with STRS employees and are willing to share some of your information (general or specific), please forward that to Darrell Minor via email.

PROFESSIONAL WORKDAYS BEFORE CLASSES BEGIN

This is just a reminder that spring semester classes begin on Monday, January 14. Due to the fact that there are fewer teaching days on the semester calendar, the five weekdays immediately preceding spring semester (Monday, January 7 through Friday, January 11) are paid faculty workdays. Faculty are expected to have their course syllabi and other materials ready (and posted to Blackboard, as appropriate) during that week. Department, division, or College meetings may be held on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday of that week. If no meetings are being held, any of these days may be worked from home, provided the expected materials are completed on time.

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT AND ITS IMPACT ON ADJUNCT TEACHING LOADS

As you may have heard, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires that certain full-time employees are entitled to a prescribed set of insurance benefits for a limited cost. Full-time employees are generally defined as those working 30 hours or more per week. At some colleges, this could impact the teaching loads of adjunct faculty, and in fact some colleges have already announced that they are reducing the allowable teaching loads of adjuncts.

It is not clear yet how this could impact the teaching loads of adjunct faculty at Columbus State, although early indications are that the national standard might be that adjunct faculty must teach less than 75% of the teaching load of a full-time faculty member. Columbus State has always held adjunct teaching loads to less than or equal to 75% of the teaching load of full-time faculty, so the change might be that adjuncts would no longer be allowed to teach exactly 75% of the full-time load, but must be teaching strictly less than 75% of the full-time load. Nothing is definite yet, but this represents the early discussions that seem to be taking place at the national level. Also not clear yet is whether the limit would be applied each semester, or over the course of an entire year.

The Word from CSEA is produced by the Communications Committee of the Columbus State Education Association. We welcome your comments, news, and insights. Other information and back issues of The Word from CSEA are available at CSEA's web site, www.cseafaculty.org.

Officers

Darrell Minor, President / x5310

Kevin James, Vice-President / x5008

T.J. Duda, Secretary / x5309

Tom Shanahan, Treasurer / x2623

Ingrid Emch, Parliamentarian / x5824

****************************

Amy Brubaker / x5068 Senior Association Representative, Career & Technical Division (Interim Representative for Human Services)

Eric Neubauer / x5698 Senior Association Representative, Arts & Sciences Division

Judy Anderson / x5822 Developmental Education Beth Barnett / x2593 Hospitality, Massage Therapy and Sports & Exercise Studies
Carla Mayers Bletsch / x5235 Allied Health Crystal Clark / x5451 Humanities
Terry Eisele / x5202 Modern Languages Ty Fogle / x5781 Business Programs
Lydia Gilmore / x3908 Health, Dental and Veterinary Tech. Frankie Hale / x5184 Communication
Chuck Kassor / x7108 Construction Sciences Adam Keller / x2562 Social Sciences
Sue Longenbaker / x2430 Biological Sciences Phil MacLean / x5308 Justice & Safety
Jackie Miller / x2601 Nursing Mark Mitchell / x3612 Automotive and Applied Tech.
Kris Montgomery / x5864 Physical Sciences Dr. Antoinette Perkins / x5754 Integrated Media and Technology
Dona Reaser / (740) 203-8231 Delaware campus Rita Rice / x5818 Psychology
Gilberto Serrano / x3863 Mathematics Edgar Velez / x3694 English

The Word is produced by the Communications Committee of the Columbus State Education Association. We welcome your comments, news, and insights.


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