Oregon University System logo

System Strategic Planning Committee
Room 319, Stevenson Union
Southern Oregon University
October 20, 2000

Minutes

Committee members present: Herb Aschkenasy, Shawn Hempel, Leslie Lehmann, Jim Lussier, Phyllis Wustenberg, Jim Willis

OUS staff present: Shirley Clark, Joseph Cox, Carrie Jahde, Ben Rawlins, Diane Sawyer, Diane Vines

Others: Lesley Hallick (OHSU), Neil Kunze (SOU), John Minahan (WOU), Wendy Robinson (DOJ), Les Ruark (interested citizen), Bruce Shepard (EOU), Mary Kay Tetreault (PSU), Gary Tiedeman (IFS/OSU)

Call to Order

The meeting was called to order at 8:30 a.m. by Chair Willis.

Approval of Minutes

Ms. Wustenberg moved and Ms. Lehmann seconded the motion to approve the October 6, 2000, minutes as submitted. The motion was unanimously approved.

Grievance Process Options

OUS Director of Legal Services Ben Rawlins summarized the document prepared by Department of Justice Attorney Wendy Robinson and himself, which included several options for the Committee's consideration. (This document is on file in the Board's office.)

Noting that the Board President has approved interim measures on addressing grievances until a final decision is made, Mr. Rawlins indicated that the current system, or Option #1, is driven in part by current rules and by practice. Regardless of the Committee's and the Board's decision on the matter, Mr. Rawlins recommended an extension of the 60-day response time to grievance appeals. He also asked the Committee to consider the practice of permitting grievants to address the Board at the time of presentation. Given that the review is appellate, he reminded members that additional comment creates a de novo hearing situation, thereby blurring the distinction between the two processes. He added that not allowing grievants to speak reinforces the use of the designee and the role that person plays as an agent of the Board.

Dr. Aschkenasy felt it would be worthwhile to discuss the possibility of the Board not hearing grievances, and having the appeal process stop at the Chancellor's Office. He referred to Mr. Rawlins' remark where he stated that it was not illegal to take that course of action. He did feel that amending the rule to extend the 60-day turnaround would be worthwhile, however.

Putting himself in the place of a grievant, Mr. Lussier observed that his interest would be to get to the Board level with an appeal. Ms. Lehmann agreed, adding that her frustration with the process is when a grievance does come to the Board, members don't have the time or haven't been involved with the investigation that has preceded their consideration. Noting that considerations of time and efficiency were probably the reason for assigning designees to review grievances as agents of the Board, Mr. Rawlins agreed that process does not allow for the type of lengthy review to which Ms. Lehmann referred. Ms. Robinson reminded members that grievants still have the ability to go either to the Court of Appeals or the Circuit Court if they feel the process has been incorrect at the university level.

Ms. Wustenberg said that she felt what happens on a campus is under the jurisdiction of the president, adding that she didn't see much reason, if any, to go beyond that in a grievance process. Noting that following a decision of a president, a person can still take their case to court, she said, "I can't see how our steps make them feel any less grieved."

Chancellor Cox asked Dr. Hallick how OHSU handles grievances. She explained that, when new procedures were written following OHSU's public corporation status, a choice was made to have the final decision lie with the president, thereby backing the process down one level.

Viewing the current procedure as convoluted, Mr. Lussier thought that the procedures were written with a much smaller System in mind. Noting that he felt Option #3 was probably the closest to how he felt future grievances should be handled, he suggested that, in most cases the president's decision should be final, but in a few specific cases, such as if one's employment status is substantially affected or if the case had System implications, may transcend to the Chancellor. The Board, he continued, should annually review grievances and the nature of those grievances as reviewed by the president and Chancellor. Grievances involving a president, he suggested, could be handled by the Chancellor and in the case of a grievance against the Chancellor, the Board would be designated as reviewer.

Providing some history for the current system of handling grievances, Chancellor Cox said that he preferred OHSU's method. Responding to a question from the Chancellor, Dr. Hallick explained that the one case where OHSU's Board would consider a grievance involves the termination of a tenured faculty member.

Dr. Vines said that the Committee, if it desired, could vote to recommend a modified Option #3 to the full Board in order to initiate the OAR amendment process. Ms. Robinson reminded members that all grievances already underway would be subject to the current process, until such amendments were finalized by the Board.

Mr. Rawlins asked for the opportunity to return to the Committee with a draft rule to ensure all components of the proposed amendments were being addressed. Chair Willis agreed, adding that he hoped to see a draft prior to the December 15 meeting. Asking for permission to amend specific language to insure legal sufficiency, Mr. Rawlins agreed to have a draft ready for input by the Committee, with the intent of recommending a final draft rule to the Board in December.

Ms. Lehmann moved and Ms. Wustenberg seconded the motion to accept Director Lussier's suggestion of a modification of Option #3, which included the following exceptions: 1) grievances involving presidents be referred to the Chancellor; 2) grievances involving the Chancellor go to Board; 3) the Board conduct an annual review of grievances; and 4) grievances involving substantial employment changes, or having a System impact (at the Chancellor's discretion) be reviewed by the Board. The motion was unanimously approved.

Confirmation of Institutional Degree Lists

Ms. Wustenberg moved and Ms. Lehmann seconded the motion to confirm the institutional degree lists as submitted by all OUS campuses, including OHSU. The motion passed unanimously.

Unclassified Employee Grievances Filed at OUS Institutions, 1999-00

Mr. Rawlins reviewed the report prepared by his office. Ms. Wustenberg asked approximately how many grievances don't automatically pass the president. Mr. Rawlins' sense was that it was probably about twice as many as were reported (eight in 1999-00). He reminded the Committee that classified employee grievances are routed differently through bargaining units.

Dr. Aschkenasy asked about the distinction between a minor professor and a major professor. EOU Provost Shepard explained that as being a characteristic of OSU, where major faculty have various privileges and supervise doctoral committees (as opposed to serving on them). Dr. Clark added that it is a common practice in research institutions nationwide to have a policy in the graduate school that ensures doctoral students are advised by faculty who are highly established in their field, representing a judgment of peer faculty. Dr. Aschkenasy expressed some concern over the lack of clarity in the terminology.

Office of Degree Authorization Proposed OAR Amendments

Mr. Rawlins described the role of the Office of Degree Authorization and the issue of mandated program constraints on public institutions. He reported that several new proposed regulations were opposed by OUS. The objections voiced by OUS were noted for the record and a decision was postponed until late October. Since that meeting in September, Mr. Rawlins said that some revisions were suggested, largely in conformity with the original objections made by OUS. However, pointed out Mr. Rawlins, most issues revolve around the statutory latitude of the Office of Degree Authorization and its ability to exercise its prerogative over public programs. Campuses, he said, have conformed well to the regulations. Hoping for some relief eventually, Mr. Rawlins said that it will probably not be brought up in the next legislative session.

Vice Chancellor Clark added that community colleges have joined OUS in its opposition to extensive proposed revisions, thereby further ensuring that the amendments will not go forward as originally proposed. A strong letter of support for OUS was submitted by the Governor's Office, indicating that it did not wish for access to be limited by these kinds of developments, which related to extended programs, new locations, and the anticipated branch campus in Central Oregon. Dr. Clark said she hoped to update the Board on the outcome of the next meeting, scheduled for October 27.

Ms. Wustenberg asked why the rules were put forth originally. Vice Chancellor Clark explained that in the 1997 Legislative Session, lawmakers saw the constraints on public programs as a way to move some focus from the public institutions. Deemed to be a disadvantage to private and proprietary institutions, the legislation was seen as a way to offer some additional flexibility to them. One disparity Dr. Clark noted in the new rules was that while public institutions are required to submit monthly updates on new programs, the same does not apply to private institutions.

Following up on an observation made by Ms. Wustenberg regarding access, Mr. Rawlins pointed out that, in fact, the premise of the statue is in conflict with the Board's charge. Ms. Lehmann asked if there might be an opportunity to go back and examine the original impetus of the rule. Mr. Rawlins said that it could be done, but it needs to be weighed against other current legislative concepts and priorities. When viewed from that standpoint, coupled with the fact that campuses have adapted so well to the new system, Mr. Rawlins said that it becomes a less urgent issue to present to lawmakers. Chair Willis suggested the Committee receive periodic updates to determine if the Board should move it up on its priority list at a later date.

Follow Up on October 6 Meeting: Goal #2 Refinement

Board Secretary Vines announced that, due to cancelled flights out of San Francisco, Dr. Nygren was unable to attend the meeting. She referred to a revised Board calendar as produced by Dr. Nygren for the Committee's consideration. In addition, Dr. Vines pointed out several items that remained undecided in the Committee's overall recommendations to the full Board at the work session later in the morning. These included:

Mr. Willis said that he felt the calendar work was critical, noting an earlier point of Mr. Lussier's: it is vital to connect System pieces, or to see how pieces fit into the System prior to allocating resources. Mr. Lussier observed that there is an opportunity for the Board to do a better job of strategic planning, and that there are built-in conflicts in the current calendar. Using Central Oregon as an example, he said, that if the Board had engaged in some early strategic planning, the branch campus concept might have come from the System rather than as an initiative from citizens in Central Oregon.

Dr. Clark pointed out a discrepancy in the calendar, indicating that the 2001-2003 budget was already submitted to the Governor in late August/early September, not in February 2001.

Part of the thinking in terms of a mid-course review (mid-period of the biennial budget), said Mr. Willis, was to assess the status of policy issues and the impact of any feedback, but not necessarily directed at the budget itself. Ms. Lehmann clarified that it was really a way to look at measurements and accountability and make any necessary corrections. It was decided that February would be the most appropriate month for that activity (odd years), as well as the strategic planning for the coming biennium/renewal work sessions (even years).

Moving to the question of Board and individual member evaluations, Dr. Vines asked how members felt about conducting them every other year. Appraisals are difficult, said Dr. Aschkenasy, in a volunteer situation. Mr. Willis agreed that he was uncomfortable with individual evaluations. Dr. Vines explained that the Board's office reports members' attendance annually to the Governor's Office, and any other concerns of members have been directed through the Board President. While it was ultimately decided not to conduct individual evaluations, the Committee believed that Board evaluations would be beneficial every other year.

Bringing up the notion of delaying Board consideration of major items, Dr. Vines said that her sense was that the Committee did not want to invoke that policy. While members agreed that to be the case, staff was urged to distribute materials in a more timely matter. Mr. Hempel added that it might be possible to conduct an information session on Thursday afternoon prior to Board meetings, to allow for some time between resolving issues and being asked to take a vote, particularly for major items. After some consideration, members agreed that those meetings should not be routinely scheduled, nor should System Strategic Planning or Budget and Finance Committee meetings be scheduled on Thursday afternoons unless the situation warranted it.

Concluding the discussion, Mr. Willis observed that time commitments are important, and to keep the System moving ahead, members need to do their best to make themselves available for possible two-day meetings when necessary.

Mr. Lussier asked staff to work toward embellishing the work of the Joint Boards and the Joint Boards Working Group.

Adjournment

The meeting adjourned 9:45 a.m.