System Strategic Planning Committee
Telephone Conference Call
October 6, 2000
Committee members present: Herb Aschkenasy, Shawn Hempel, Leslie Lehmann, Phyllis Wustenberg, Jim Willis
Other Board members: Geri Richmond
(Jim Lussier was on the line for a short time, but due to a poor cellular phone connection, left the call at 10:20 a.m.)
OUS staff present: Tom Anderes, Bob Bruce, Shirley Clark, Ben Rawlins, Lynda Rose, Diane Sawyer, Diane Vines
(Chancellor Cox was on the line for a short time, but due to a poor cellular phone connection, left the call at 10:12 a.m.)
Others: Neil Kunze (SOU), Brent Laizure (PSU Public Safety), Rick Martin (PSU Public Safety), David Nygren (consultant), Mary Kay Tetreault (PSU)
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 10:06 a.m. by Chair Willis.
Approval of Minutes
Ms. Wustenberg moved and Ms. Lehmann seconded the motion to approve the July 21, 2000, minutes as submitted. The motion was unanimously approved.
Before proceeding, Chancellor Cox asked that the document pertaining to Board member responsibilities be amended. Under the "An Ideal Board Member" heading, he indicated that statewide interests should be paramount rather than OUS.
Analysis of Campus Safety Issues
Mr. Willis adjusted the agenda to accommodate two PSU Public Safety officers who were in attendance.
Dr. Vines explained that at the September 15 Executive Committee meeting, President VanLuvanee asked staff to prepare an analysis of the Board's responsibilities and possible liabilities relating to campus safety. This, she said, was in response to the Legislative Concept presented for the Board's consideration earlier in the year, which was voted down. Indicating that the Board hoped for more detailed information before taking a particular stance on the larger issue of campus safety, Dr. Vines said that OUS Director of Legal Services Ben Rawlins was assigned to prepare a report for the Board's consideration, which will first be reviewed by the System Strategic Planning Committee at its December 15, 2000, meeting. This report will include information about best practices nationwide and offer recommendations to review or amend current policy.
Responding to a question by Ms. Wustenberg about current policy relating to arming campus safety officers, Mr. Willis said that the legislature and not the Board has authority to make that decision. Dr. Aschkenasy remarked that the Board should be mindful that it not ask the legislature for permission to do something it does not want to do.
Review of Prior Renewal Work Sessions
Calling participants' attention to the document outlining prior renewal work sessions, Dr. Vines explained that by sharing this information about past dates of renewals, as well as their goals and outcomes, some discussion about the timing and the agenda for future renewals could take place.
September 15, 2000, Meeting: Review of Outcomes and Refinement of Goal 2
For the benefit of those not in attendance at the September 15 meeting, Dr. Vines highlighted the work of the day, including development of four goals, which were ultimately distilled into two. Dr. Nygren explained that Goal #2 attempts to link the new budget model to the strategic planning process, as well as to the external market, so that the Board makes fact-based decisions about issues facing it.
Dr. Aschkenasy, while feeling that it was a good outline, cautioned that it might be a bit unrealistic in terms of what a volunteer Board is able to deliver. Dr. Nygren explained that a key component of the process is breaking down staff work, Board work, and the information necessary and reasonable for the Board to govern effectively. Dr. Aschkenasy agreed that would be the next logical step.
Ms. Lehmann observed that the timing for many of the issues facing the Board was key. Dr. Vines added that the timing of the renewal work session factors into the discussion, particularly with the budget planning process and legislative sessions. She felt that the Board should possibly consider discussing the renewal within a policy-setting context with regard to the budget.
Pointing out an item in Goal #2 relating to refining the policy process of the Board, Mr. Hempel said he felt that should be a separate bullet. Other Committee members concurred.
Returning to the timing of renewals, Dr. Vines suggested that it might be valuable to adjust the month in which renewals are held in order to be more proactive in making strategic decisions as they relate to future legislative sessions. Refining the Board's priorities in advance of the budget planning, said Ms. Lehmann, was key. Mr. Willis asked about the possibility of a mid-year evaluation process as a checkpoint during legislative years. In the "off" years (even-numbered years), perhaps convening the renewal in February or March would be beneficial, as the budget planning for the next biennium would immediately follow.
Ms. Lehmann noted that she hoped to see greater emphasis placed on the identification of external issues. "We need to integrate that into our strategic planning in a formal way, as that translates into how on target we are with our planning. It could also uphold support," she said. Dr. Nygren pointed out that her comment linked closely to Goal #1, which would include a broad environmental scan.
Dr. Vines moved on to the issue of information flow. She noted some concern by Board members over getting materials too close to meeting time, and asked Vice Chancellor Anderes to address the question. Mr. Anderes, agreeing with Dr. Vines, noted that materials related to engineering were being mailed well in advance, in hopes of establishing a precedent. He added that there are circumstances where staff receive requests from various agencies that might alter decision-making processes and could prevent the inclusion of specific information in a mailing. That, he said, would be up to staff to properly communicate with Board members.
Encouraging a face-to-face discussion of the issue, Vice Chancellor Clark pointed out there are times when staff create information "overload" for the Board, thereby making it difficult for the members to discern which things should definitely be read in advance of a Board meeting. Offering a counterpoint, Ms. Wustenberg observed that the Board has recently asked for a great deal of information in a hurry. "The Board needs to keep in mind that we have to be careful as a Board how it loads up staff to get what we require. It's got to be a two-way street," she remarked. Dr. Clark said that it is important for staff to clearly communicate with the Board as to what is involved in a particular study.
Dr. Vines said that one issue which remains unclear is that some Board members prefer an executive summary for all items and others prefer a more comprehensive document. Noting that sometimes that Board is "all over the map" with its issues, Mr. Willis said that as the Board focuses, staff can better focus as well. He agreed that a discussion should take place at the Board level, adding that he was confident a variety of different needs could be met.
Dr. Nygren, responding to Dr. Vines' wish to finalize a recommendation on the timing of renewals, offered to draft a two-year agenda in relation to the budget/legislative process as well as external issues, in order to provide different models for the Committee to consider in a face-to-face setting. Another component of the agenda, said Dr. Nygren, might be a column to distinguish what information is required by whom, which would better define staff versus Board workload. Committee members agreed to this plan of action.
Another issue that might be worth discussing, said Dr. Vines, was the timing of Board evaluation workshops and individual member evaluations. Dr. Nygren suggested putting them on an every other year rotating calendar, factoring in the legislative process, the Board's strategic planning process, and the Board nomination process. Dr. Clark asked about the nature of the Board's interest in moving in that direction. Indicating there were several possible proposed changes that have policy implications, Dr. Nygren suggested a placeholder before querying the Board about the issue. Mr. Willis asked to include as much information on the calendar as possible, have the Committee review it once more, and then bring it before the full Board for its consideration. Concluding the discussion, Dr. Vines and Dr. Nygren agreed that the committee charters will be integrated into the Board's workplan, and will be examined more closely at the October work session.
Ms. Wustenberg expressed concern as a Board member about voting on an item when there hadn't been enough information disseminated, therefore creating a level of discomfort about a decision. As target priorities are developed, Mr. Willis felt that it would be easier for all Board members to retain a focus, and not be subject to knee-jerk analysis. "The key point is how we make informed decisions," he said.
Asking for clarification on Ms. Wustenberg's and Mr. Willis' comments, Ms. Lehmann asked if the concern was centered around actual sequencing of events, or if Committees are being asked to make decisions that should be contemplated by the full Board. Mr. Willis responded that he felt some work should be done by the full Board, using the proposed statewide engineering objectives as an example. He reiterated that, once key targets are identified, coupled with a clarification of how the Board spends its time and of the developing budget process, Committee members would feel more comfortable with their roles. Ms. Lehmann suggested refining the practice of looking ahead to see issues that are coming up, in order to better prepare members.
Dr. Nygren asked exactly where the concerns lie. Ms. Wustenberg explained that, often times after Committee meetings, once the full Board is convened, there is little time for a broader discussion of issues. "For me, it's too much information boiled down to too little time to completely understand some things in the Committee of the Whole of the full Board," she said. Agreeing with Ms. Wustenberg, Mr. Willis commented that he sometimes felt that way, particularly with budget issues. He suggested the possibility of creating more time for the Committee of the Whole to analyze those types of topics before being asked for a vote.
Suggesting that there might be a way to arrange the agendas to allow for a period of review between the Committee/Board meetings on the larger issues, Dr. Nygren admitted that schedule typically delays process. He added that some agencies, in order to make board members feel more responsible, have budgetary thresholds where an item must be seen by the full board at one meeting and voted upon at the next. Dr. Vines asked about the possibility of scheduling Committee meetings on Thursday afternoons to allow for greater staff/Board interaction prior to the regular Board meeting on Friday.
Ms. Wustenberg said that she hoped not to create more paperwork for staff to prepare and Board members to absorb, but rather more time for direct interaction to work through issues and resolve unanswered questions. Recognizing there were going to be tradeoffs regardless of the agreed-upon solution, everyone concurred that the discussion should take place in greater detail at the October meeting.
Political Activity and Board Members' Responsibilities
Referring to recent activity on campuses pertaining to worker's rights, Mr. Willis questioned the roles of the Board and presidents in political activity. Anticipating that the issue, as well as other politically-relevant topics, would be presented to the Board for its weigh-in in the near future, he asked that staff compile information so members were better prepared to respond. Mr. Rawlins said that the Chancellor asked him to research the relevant statute, and what was contemplated when the statute was written. He expected to have some information for members' review by the next meeting.
The meeting adjourned at 11:15 a.m.