Benson, Faculty Council talk non-monetary compensation at meeting

Transfer of tuition benefit to get close look in months ahead

With pay raises not on the table for faculty, one result among many brought about by severely reduced state funding, are there other perks that could lessen the sting? University of Colorado President Bruce D. Benson looked to the Faculty Council for ideas.

"I'm aware of the fact that everyone is suffering because we're not doing raises and we're lacking resources," Benson told the Faculty Senate and Council during its systemwide meeting Thursday, April 29, at 1800 Grant St. "I really appreciate how everyone is handling this, because it's not fun. Non-monetary compensation is something we need to look at."

When Benson asked for suggestions, the discussion focused on a pilot program at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, where faculty and staff members have been allowed to transfer unused tuition assistance (up to nine credits) to an immediate family member for undergraduate work. The program, which has proved popular with UCCS employees, is concluding its two-year test run.

Benson said he's eager to see results of the Colorado Springs study, expected to be available in August. A decision to extend the program's duration and to expand it to other campuses would have to be voted on by the Board of Regents.

While council members noted that such a benefit could prove to be a useful tool in retaining faculty members, Kathleen Bollard, associate vice president and chief academic affairs officer, said it also could be an effective recruitment tool.

E. Jill Pollock, senior associate vice president and chief human resources officer, told the council she's waiting on a report that examines how such a benefit is handled at peer university systems.

"It's easy to do a tuition waiver on a particular campus," she said. "The question is how do you manage that when you can move to other campuses? And what's a good cost model?"

She said she looks forward to sharing a "robust report" with the Faculty Council in the fall.

In other action, the Faculty Council:

  • Discussed concerns over the proposed proportion of faculty members who would be seated on future presidential search committees. The most recent list preferred by the Board of Regents indicated a committee of no more than 11 members, including four faculty members. Faculty Council had requested 50 percent plus one, or six members. Via phone, Regent Tom Lucero, R-Loveland, said such a proposal was a "nonstarter" for the board. Taking a suggestion from council member Bruce Neumann, Lucero said he would bring before the board a suggestion to reduce the number of community (non-CU) members of the search committee from four to two. Lucero also encouraged faculty members to attend the next regents meeting June 24 if they would like an opportunity to speak directly to the board.
  • Heard from Pollock an update on this year's dependent eligibility verification. She said that with 89 percent of the process complete, the university has identified 5.6 percent of current dependents as ineligible for benefit coverage. If that number holds, it would mean an annual savings to the university of $1.9 million.
  • Passed a resolution expressing appreciation to employees who have worked on implementing the new Integrated Student Information System (ISIS).
  • Elected new officers to one-year terms, which begins July 1:
    • Chair, Mark Malone, UCCS curriculum and instruction
    • Vice chair, Skip Hamilton, CU-Boulder library
    • Secretary, Bruce Neumann, UC Denver business

"I think the most important thing a Faculty Council chair can do at any time is to be a good listener," Malone said after the meeting. "With the tough economic challenges we now face, this is more important than ever. There will likely be some tough challenges. Everyone needs to know not just that they have a voice in the process, but that decisions reflect that others have heard that voice and considered it in the decision-making process."