A one-year pilot program proposed at the UI Board of Trustees meeting July 13 in Chicago would allow employees to voice their opinions of policies and procedures – and suggest ways that they could be changed for the better – through a Web site.
The program was proposed by the inaugural class of University Administrative Fellows, a group of eight faculty and staff members from the UI’s three campuses who last fall completed a professional development program for employees aspiring to middle- and executive-level administrative positions. The group, which completed the three-year fellowship program last fall, developed the proposal at the request of President B. Joseph White as a means for resolving procedural problems that hinder employees’ job performance.
“Employees can enter concerns that they feel are preventing them from doing their job in the most efficient manner,” said Maxine Sandretto, director of budget and resource planning at the College of Law at Urbana and a university administrative fellow.
“This is a program that we think will provide some relief,” said Maureen Parks, director of employee relations and human resources and a university administrative fellow.
Once a list of the problematic policies was compiled, the program director would try to identify solutions, costs and the risks of altering policies. E-mails would be sent to university employees once problems were posted asking for their comments and suggested solutions.
The resolution would be posted to the Web site so that there would be ongoing communication with the university community, Sandretto said.
The trustees approved a policy for rehiring retirees that requires prior approval of the board of trustees in certain circumstances. The previous policy, which had been in effect since 1993, allowed the rehiring of retirees at the discretion of the university president.
“Sometimes it is practical to rehire retiree employees,” said trustee Marjorie Sodemann. “We value retired faculty members. They are an excellent reservoir of employees who work on short notice.”
Trustee Devon Bruce said that many different interests needed to be balanced to come up with a workable policy.
“This allows faculty members to come back and teach,” he said.
The trustees were concerned that rehired retirees might inadvertently receive additional pension contributions from the State Universities Retirement System that they weren’t entitled to receive.
“We want to prevent abuses to SURS so that people would not be allowed to come back and double dip,” Bruce said.
The policy explicitly prohibits the rehiring of “retired senior administrators to positions from which they have retired or to similar positions without board approval.”
Retired faculty members who are rehired to teach courses, advise students and perform related duties occasionally would not need board pre-approval. The policy also contains exceptions for retirees conducting research funded by grants and contracts, those providing patient care, those reappointed as academic hourly employees on a temporary basis and retirees appointed on a temporary basis to perform staff functions when other options are not feasible.
Sodemann said the board wanted to be careful not to stymie the advancement of less experienced employees.
- The board approved extending athletic director Ronald Guenther’s contract by three more years and increasing his salary from $410,000 to $500,000, effective July 14. Guenther also will receive a retention incentive of $250,000 if he stays at the university through December 2008. Guenther has been director of the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics since July 1, 1992. “He has an enormous list of accomplishments,” Chancellor Richard Herman said. “He has brought in a level of integrity and excellence to athletics.” Trustee Robert Sperling said Guenther has received offers from other universities. “He’s had other opportunities,” Sperling said. “We’re lucky to have him.”Guenther’s salary increase and retainer will be funded through DIA’s institutional operating funds budget and not state appropriations, Herman said.
- The board approved Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld as director of the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations. Cutcher-Gershenfeld is the executive director of the Engineering Systems Learning Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Herman said the institute is one of the few elite schools in the discipline. “I think we brought someone in who will keep us at that level,” he said.
- Karen Schmidt, associate university librarian for collections, was appointed acting university librarian effective Aug. 16. Schmidt will serve in that position while university librarian Paula Kaufman fills in as interim chief information officer until a permanent replacement is found for Pete Siegel, who resigned as CIO effective Aug. 14 for a position at the University of California at Davis.
- The board approved the issuance of auxiliary facilities system revenue bonds to finance six already-approved capital projects with budgets that totaled $348.2 million. At Urbana, the bonds will finance $104 million of the $116 million first phase of the Memorial Stadium renovations, the entire cost of constructing a $75.7 million Student Dining and Residential Programs Building and the first wing of a new residence hall, and $5 million of the $11 million conference center project.