FACULTY WELFARE COMMITTEE
1999-2000 ACADEMIC YEAR
The Faculty Welfare Committee met at least monthly and considered a wide variety of matters of relevance to faculty welfare during the 1999-2000 academic year. As is usually the case for this committee, most (but not all) of these issues are still pending. Jerry Wallulis, Philosophy, will be chair for the 2000-2001 academic year.
The Committee remains concerned about the issue of childcare on campus but has not worked actively in this area during this year.
Two members of the Committee attended some meetings of the Distance Education Advisory Committee to represent faculty opinions on intellectual property issues and workload considerations.
Faculty Enrichment Fund
The Committee continued to work on the establishment of a Faculty Enrichment Fund in cooperation with the Development Officer for the Family Fund. This fund has now been established and is included as an option in Family Fund solicitations. As a start-up activity, flu shots for faculty were covered by this fund and Faculty Senate funds during 1999-2000. Procedures for allocating funds and managing the account will need to be further developed during the coming year.
The Committee was asked by the Faculty Advisory Committee to comment on and suggest changes to several specific sections of the Faculty Manual as part of its update and revision process. We discussed these sections and others and passed our recommendations on to the Faculty Advisory Committee. We are pleased that the Faculty Senate and the Board of Trustees have now approved the revised Faculty Manual.
Faculty Self Study
The committee continued planning activities for a survey of faculty to gather information about faculty concerns and to better assess faculty attitudes. During January 2000 a series of focus groups was held with faculty members. Following these groups a survey instrument was developed. Plans to distribute the survey during the spring semester were deferred in order to avoid conflicts with the various SACS surveys. Current plans are to distribute the survey at the beginning of the Fall 2000 semester. The cooperation of the Office of Institutional Planning and Assessment and the Statistical Consulting Lab has been essential in this effort.
Grade Change Form
The existence of two separate grade change forms, one for undergraduates and one for graduates, has been a minor annoyance to faculty, especially when a grade change was returned because it was on the wrong form. We asked that the Office of the Registrar and the Graduate School develop a single form that could be used for all students, and we appreciate their cooperation and effort in having done so.
Health benefits for faculty include not only health insurance, but also dental insurance, prescription drug plans, and wellness programs. In recent years the benefits provided have been reduced while the cost of these benefits has increased. In addition, the structure of the prescription drug plan was changed dramatically, with a resulting dramatic shift in relative costs and benefits to individuals depending on their health status and patterns of drug use.
Most of these health benefits are provided to faculty as part of the state benefits package and our concerns are thus shared with state employees in general. We have decided that coordination and cooperation with other appropriate groups is essential to effectively address issues of health benefits and have begun making appropriate contacts.
While the University has several programs of teaching awards and grants for faculty, these are currently limited to tenure track faculty. The Committee feels that the teaching efforts and excellence demonstrated by non-tenure track instructional faculty members also deserve recognition and support. The Committee continued to support a proposal developed during 1998-1999 for a new program of Instructional Enhancement Grants to support teaching innovation by instructional faculty, who are not eligible for current grant programs. This recommendation was submitted to the Provost. The University Committee on the Status of Women has this year joined us in support for this proposal since many of the non-tenure track instructors are female.
The Committee has continued to work with the Director of Vehicle Management and Parking Services concerning planned changes in the parking and transportation system. We invited him to attend the March meeting of the Faculty Senate, during which he presented an overview of plans and answered questions from the floor. We worked with this office to coordinate communication with new incoming faculty members to make sure that they would be informed of parking policies and options in a timely manner and would have the option of using a garage space rather than a Z sticker if that is their choice. We wrote a letter requesting that the different needs of faculty (as opposed to staff) be taken into account in development and implementation of parking policies. The chair has recently reviewed a draft of the current parking plan with the Director. The Committee will need to review this plan carefully during the coming year in conjunction with other appropriate committees.
Policies and Procedures
The Committee reviewed and commented on potential changes for several University policies and procedures.
The Committee discussed the issue of potty parity (a term generally used to refer to policies and laws established with the goal of ensuring equal waiting time for men and women in the use of bathroom facilities). The bill introduced in the legislature this year was not passed.
The Committee met with several research faculty from one department during 1998-1999 to discuss concerns relevant to research faculty status. The Committee provided them with the information obtained from Human Resources on the numbers and distribution of non-tenure track faculty. They agreed to consult with research faculty from other departments and prepare a recommendation for the Committee. This recommendation has not been received, and no further action has been taken.
The Committee monitored legislative action of changes to the state retirement system, which resulted in the adoption of a plan allowing full retirement at 28 years service. We will continue to monitor this situation to ensure that adequate information is available to faculty in the state retirement system about the new options made available by this change.
The earlier suggestion of the possibility of a retirement condominium located on or near the University has not yet been persued.
The issue of equity in retirement packages from the University was brought to the committee towards the end of the 1998-1999 academic year. The Committee investigated this issue and assisted in disseminating information concerning university guidelines for Individual Voluntary Retirement Agreements.
The Committee received fewer complaints than usual about perceived problems with salaries and hopes that this represents improvements in policies and procedures for raises and other salary adjustments.
South Carolina State Employees Association
Since faculty receive health benefits as employees of the state of South Carolina and not as faculty at the University of South Carolina, it was decided that effectively addressing this issue would require coordination and alliances with other interested groups. As a step in this direction, the chair and chair-elect attended the 2000 annual meeting of the South Carolina State Employees Association. The director of SCSEA has agreed to meet with the committee or its representatives in the near future.
The Committee was asked by the Advisory Committee on Women's Issues to investigate the possibility and desirability of adopting formal procedures on stopping the tenure clock in specified situations, such as illness, family responsibilities, and pregnancy. The various informal unit policies on this issue were discussed towards the end of the year, but further work remains to be done.
Caroline M. Eastman, Chair
Faculty Welfare Committee, 1999-2000