I hope your semester is starting off well. I am glad to have the campus buzzing again and to have all of the faculty and staff back to start the new academic year. It was wonderful to see so many of you at the Faculty and Staff Convocation last week, and I know I shared a lot of information then. Today I want to give a few more details about some of my announcements. I also wanted to share a quotation from a Chronicle of Higher Education article on shared governance that was published back in 2009 by Gary Olson. In it, he wrote, “The key to genuine shared governance is broad and unending communication. When various groups of people are kept in the loop and understand what developments are occurring within the university, and when they are invited to participate as true partners, the institution prospers. That, after all, is our common goal.” http://chronicle.com/article/Exactly-What-Is-Shared/47065/
I wanted to start with this quotation because one of the purposes of this newsletter is to continue to offer opportunities to share information with campus. I know that it is never possible to communicate as often or as well as I would like, but I do want to keep open as many opportunities to connect as I can.
In relation to internal campus communication, I will continue to hold open office hours with my VPs this year, and they will be announced in the Daily Eagle in advance. The first will be on September 12 from 12:30-1:30. In addition, the Hey Heidi button on the website is still available, and there will be town halls on various topics organized throughout the year.
I talked at convocation about the importance of our campus climate, and the need to address issues as they arise in order to improve our campus climate, particularly around issues of social and cultural identity. I also talked about ensuring that we know how and when to report issues we might be having. I am bringing in an expert this fall who will review our processes and procedures; he has also agreed to have individual meetings with employees who want to discuss climate issues. If you would like to speak to him confidentially about any concerns you have, please contact Tammy Gouger, our Affirmative Action Officer, who will make the arrangements for your confidential discussion. She can be reached on [firstname.lastname@example.org] or extension 2442. Depending on the number of people who wish to speak to our consultant, those meetings might take place in September, October, or via the telephone. He will also be meeting with cabinet, leaders of offices with responsibility for assisting with climate issues, and some members of the bias response team or the President’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion.
At last week’s Leadership Summit, Alex Lyon led us in “courageous conversations,” and I want to ask each of us to have courageous conversations at work: where possible, I hope people will resolve issues at the first opportunity and first level, but if you have any concerns that cannot be addressed by the individual with whom you are in conflict, please talk with your supervisor, or reach out to Affirmative Action or HR who can advise you on next steps. I truly want Brockport to be a great place for you to build a career (to use Dr. Charles Callahan III’s re-stating of our strategic plan goal at the Academic Affairs Kick-Off event last week). My hope is that in proactively addressing climate issues across campus, we can do a better job of creating the best working environment that we can.
UUP Discretionary Salary Increases (DSIs)
We will shortly be launching the DSI process. I recognize that this is a large undertaking, and that it has to be done in a relatively short amount of time, which can be frustrating. I am aware that this is the first opportunity for DSIs (actual increases to base salaries) for the first time in many years, with the most recent merit awards being one-off awards. I am also aware that this is the first of several years in which we will thankfully have the opportunity to supplement salaries this way. Given the time constraints, we will be using the same process as we have done in the past few years for Discretionary Salary Awards (DSAs), so individuals should look out for messages from their deans or VPs regarding the process in your division.
The one difference is that we are required to follow the UUP contract specifications regarding the discretionary compensation pool for 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022:
- 0.5% of pool for discretionary salary increases
- 0.5% of pool for salary increases to address compression issues
SUNY’s guidance on the compression issues will be followed for the second 0.5%, and adjustments made to salaries through a process that is not related to merit and not undertaken at departmental level, but related to calculations made regarding CUPA data and years of service. The remaining 0.5% will be merit based.
Cabinet reviewed the original 1998 guidance offered by the Faculty Roles and Rewards Committee, which was endorsed by Senate. This guidance both recommended a minimum amount for awards, and also set the principle that DSI/As should be “greater in number for a smaller amount rather than fewer in number for a larger amount.” Because the pool for merit is only 0.5%, these two principles appear to be at odds. In this instance, Cabinet felt that the larger principle of “greater in number” should take precedence, given that it is the first year in many years that adjustments will be made to base salaries. Thus for this year, the minimum for merit portion of the awards for full-time professional employees will be $500, and for academic employees will be $400, $500 or $600.
Cabinet feels that we have a unique opportunity to review our DSI awards processes for subsequent years (i.e., 2020, 2021, and 2022). We’d like to know if the principles set out in 1998 remain relevant today. For example, would campus prefer to see larger amounts for fewer people in the future, or would campus want us to use the full 1% to deal with compression issues rather than have two processes running at the same time? Perhaps other principles will come to the forefront. I am working with Senate on whether to construct a task force to explore these issues, or whether to ask the Senate policy committee to take this on. It will be important that campus has an opportunity to give feedback on any proposals for future years. I will keep you informed of progress throughout my monthly newsletters to you.
I will similarly keep you informed regarding progress on the 19 different projects that are being considered regarding cost-saving opportunities. There will be a budget town hall on October 8 at 2pm, which I hope you can attend, but as information becomes available, it will be shared widely.
Student Transportation Issues
A number of people have expressed concern over student transportation issues, in light of original plans by Regional Transit Services to reduce their service to the Village of Brockport. I’m very pleased to report that through strong advocacy, the services to Brockport are not only continuing but will actually be enhanced through an on-demand service as well as maintenance of the commuter service at the beginning and end of the day. There’s a wealth of information available at https://reimagine.myrts.com/service-plan/. I would encourage you to click on to the Service Plan to get further details. The College worked with the Brockport Central School District, BSG, Lifetime Assistance, the Village of Brockport Mayor, the Town of Sweden Supervisor, and concerned community members in our successful advocacy efforts, and I think we have a better result than we could have hoped for at the beginning of these discussions. As a reminder, the Reimagine RTS plan will not come into effect until the summer of 2020; current service levels will continue until then.
You might also be interested to know how much support the College offers to our students. Eagle Run has a series of set routes, including not only the village, but various shopping malls and our transportation hubs, such as the airport and Amtrak, at set times of the semester. For more information, please see: https://www.brockport.edu/support/parking/transportation/shuttle.html. We also encourage ride share and use of the Zip cars for other journeys. For information on all options, please see: https://www.brockport.edu/support/parking/transportation/.
The GROSS Project
At the College Leadership Summit, we committed to working on Getting Rid of Silly Stuff, or the GROSS Project. Even in the short session we had at the summit, we came up with many different ways we could streamline work processes and procedures to make the College a better place to work and to learn. We are collecting those ideas now. If you want to be involved in the project on a small task force, or you want to let me know of something you think we should look into, please go to this mach form to let me know your thoughts: The GROSS Project.
In my next newsletter, I will update you about current student numbers, once we hit the census date. My thanks go to the admissions team for their hard work over the year in the face of a downturn in applications (sector wide, and across SUNY). The important work of retention now begins, and is a responsibility we all share.
Finally, I want to thank everyone who volunteered and took part in Move-In Weekend. We received wonderful feedback from parents about the help that was organized, so to all the staff, volunteers, students, and faculty who were part of the 300 people who helped out, thank you! It makes a difference to the parents as they navigate the difficult process of letting go, and I am grateful to you for your professionalism and dedication to Building a Better Brockport.