Mr. Luther Coggin, Ms. Toni Crawford, Mr. O’Neal Douglas, Mr. Wilfredo Gonzalez, Mr. Steve Halverson, Ms. Ann Hicks, Ms. Joan Wellhouse Newton, Mr. Hank Rogers, Ms. Carol Thompson, Mr. Kevin Twomey, Dr. Floyd Willis
Ms. Donna Harper Gibbs and Mr. James Stallings
Chair Thompson opened the workshop by expressing her appreciation for everyone present and their support in preparation for the meeting. She welcomed Dr. Kline for his first meeting as President and asked him to introduce the presenters for the workshop on NCAA Division I.
President Kline began by crediting Trustee Gonzalez for encouraging him to consider bringing in a consultant and beginning discussion on the possibility of a reclassification as an NCAA Division I School. President Kline introduced Dr. Richard Gropper, UNF Athletic Director for the last eight years; Mr. Bill Bibb, Commissioner for the Atlantic Sun Athletic Conference; Mr. Ted Gumbart, Associate Commissioner for the conference; and Ms. Kathy Klein, of UNF, responsible for compliance, academic issues and Senior Women’s Administrator. Mr. Bibb thanked the Board for inviting them, stating that they were glad to help institutions interested in becoming part of the NCAA. He spoke highly of Dr. Gropper, mentioning his experience in bringing FIU from Division II to Division I status. Mr. Bibb listed several topics he thought would be key to the discussion:
Trustee Halverson asked Trustee Rogers if he thought students would support a move to Division I. Trustee Rogers generally felt that they would and that it would increase student involvement and spirit but also suggested a more thorough survey of student opinion.
Chair Thompson congratulated Dr. Gropper on his success over the last eight years. She suggested that the Board take this information under advisement and that Dr. Gropper return to the board with a proposal including financial information, projected funding and resources, and possible drawbacks to becoming a Division I institution. She thanked Dr. Gropper, Ms. Klein, Mr. Bibb and Mr. Gumbart for coming and for their contributions.
Chair Thompson called the meeting to order immediately after the workshop. Trustee Gonzalez moved to approve the minutes from July 18. The motion was seconded by Trustee Newton and approved unanimously.
No public comment requests were submitted.
President Kline gave a profile of the student body for this term, reporting that there were 13,977 students enrolled, a fifteen percent increase over last year – the largest increase in the state university system. The average SAT score was 1135. Students are attending UNF from sixty different countries, including close to thirty students each from France and Sweden – a very diverse group overall. The residence halls, with a total of 2016 beds, are full. President Kline indicated that housing would be an issue for consideration by the Board in the near future.
Dr. Kline spoke of two intellectual activities currently underway in the College of Business Administration, which exemplify the type of activities the University should pursue in the future: a leading economic indicator project and a student run investment fund. The economic indicator project, similar to CPI but of local relevance, is headed by Dr. Paul Mason in Economics and funded by the Times Union and Heritage Capitol to teach students about data collection and analysis. The second project, also through the College of Business, is an investment fund of $500,000, donated to the University by Joannie Laton Smith. It is entirely managed by students.
Chair Thompson expressed her appreciation for Dr. Kline and his staff in their efforts since his appointment, stating that she was very pleased with the progress that had been made. She brought up one of the topics from the Board retreat, communication between the Board and the University between meetings and a consistent and deliberate meeting schedule. She indicated that although at times it was not possible to get information to the Board immediately, she felt that every effort was made to keep the Board updated on pertinent information in a timely manner.
The Chair announced that the Transition Committee had contacted firms regarding the presidential search and would be narrowing the selections to three from the firms initially contacted. The committee will set up another meeting soon. She also brought everyone’s attention to the annual calendar of scheduled Board and committee meetings included in the packets. Although occasionally a meeting date could change or a meeting could be required in between, the schedule would allow everyone an opportunity to plan for regularly scheduled meetings.
Ms. Karen Stone, General Counsel, requested that the Board authorize President Kline and Vice President Crosby to sign the University checks. A Trustee asked whether University policy required one or two signatures on a check. (University policy only requires one signature.) Chair Thompson noted that many organizations require two signatures and that while she was not questioning the policy, she would like to have it confirmed as a point of information to the Board at a later date. Trustee Twomey motioned to grant signature authority to President Kline and Vice President Crosby. The motion was seconded by Trustee Gonzalez and was approved unanimously.
Trustee Halverson addressed some recommended adjustments to the PECO list. Janet Owen was unable to attend due to a family emergency. Fiscal years 2002-2003 were approved at the last Board meeting. However, some building repair issues were just discovered, necessitating a reevaluation of the priority list before the October 1 submission date. Documentation was included in the meeting packets. As the University is in the process of evaluating the repairs and changes to the priority list, Trustee Halverson requested a brief conference call after the September 27 Finance and Audit Committee meeting and prior to the October 1 deadline. He did not expect the monetary amounts to change significantly, just the order of the list. Chair Thompson suggested that anyone with an interest in adjustments to the PECO list attend the Finance committee meeting and that the University make the necessary arrangements to schedule the conference call.
President Kline called everyone’s attention to Item 7 on the agenda, the UNF Annual Goals, pointing out that while the FBOE Strategic Plan was not specific, the purpose of the Annual Goals was to designate a structure for the year to comply with that plan. The President requested that each division submit their goals, some of which were elevated to the University level, with the intent of reporting back at the end of the year with a more analytical document that incorporated the University’s success in application of these goals and more rigorous University accountability. He mentioned Goal 5, with its focus on relationships with public schools and the community, as being of particular interest to him due to feedback he has received indicating that the University’s curriculum may not be perfectly compatible with school district expectations. He felt that it was important to research the issue to determine where the district or the University could realign to allow more congruence between district needs and University provisions.
Chair Thompson indicated that a number of the Board members were concerned about education and that she was pleased to see the University addressing this issue. Trustee Twomey felt it important to find ways to address the current shortage of math and science teachers. Dr. Kline agreed, stating his hope that the University will become a leader in school readiness. Trustee Crawford congratulated the President, stating that she believed the University was already accomplishing that goal.
A discussion led by Trustee Gonzalez ensued regarding the possibility of communication with UNF graduates who are teaching in the community to determine the relevance of their education and application in the workplace. Dr. Serwatka replied in the affirmative, stating that teacher success is tracked for three years after graduation. He also spoke of other examples, such as a program in Special Education where first-year teachers meet with education students and faculty to discuss their experiences. Dr. Serwatka announced that the University was beginning a fund drive this week to support scholarships that would encourage more people to enter the teaching profession.
President Kline also pointed out that the University has an opportunity this year to adjust the faculty to student ratio through the hiring of approximately 100 new faculty members.
After a speech given this morning to the USPA, Dr. Kline thought of an opportunity to recruit minority students and better employee relations through an added education benefit for the children of employees to allow and encourage them to attend UNF. He has asked Vice President Crosby to research the idea.
Chair Thompson announced that the update would be postponed, as Janet Owen was unable to attend, but encouraged the Board to continue to keep track of legislative issues as there are eleven amendments slated for this year’s election.
Trustee Gonzalez reiterated his concern about continuing the application process for Division I, remarking that the fee was reimbursable if the Board ultimately decided against application, and that if application was not made by December 1, an entire year would be lost should the University decide to attempt the transition. The Chair stated that although she would not want to short change the analysis process, she felt this was a valid observation. She felt it appropriate to defer to Dr. Kline and suggested that the President present his recommendation as soon as possible. President Kline indicated his wish to distance himself and Dr. Gropper from this decision. He recommended charging the Faculty Association’s Strategic Planning Committee to study the related issues such as student benefits, economic issues, and admission standards. The Board asked for a recommendation of order of magnitude so that a decision could be made regarding the application and asked Dr. Kline to create and bring back a process in order to accomplish this.
Chair Thompson announced the end of the business meeting, but requested that those who could stay to participate in the collective bargaining workshop return after a fifteen-minute break.
Chair Thompson welcomed everyone back for the workshop, reminding them of the importance of this issue as the Board of Trustees will be considered the University employer through devolution.
President Kline introduced Dr. Joann Campbell from Academic Affairs and Ms. Julie Sheppard, Associate University Counsel to provide background on personnel issues and the implications for collective bargaining. Dr. Campbell stated that the UNF’s personnel program currently operates under the FBOE to establish and maintain rules governing pay, job classification, and related matters for public universities in accordance with a statewide classification system. As of January 7, each individual board of trustees will become the public employer for its university and will be able to replace the cumbersome statewide system with one that is streamlined and personnel friendly. She said that along with herself, Jim Van Vleck, Julie Sheppard and Mary O’Neal (Director of Human Resources) have been charged with preparing personnel policies in accordance with the University philosophy. She requested guidance from the Board in establishing a program that was as inclusive as possible in preparation for collective bargaining issues. Collective bargaining is currently a state level function but will change on January 7.
Dr. Campbell and Ms. Sheppard went over some of the history of United Faculty of Florida (UFF). The union was elected as the exclusive bargaining agent for faculty by a state-wide faculty vote in 1976. A second vote on bargaining status was conducted in 1984. Voting figures for individual universities were not maintained as it was a system-wide election, so we do not know how UNF faculty voted in either election.
Currently, the union has filed a petition to represent faculty members in Florida’s State University System and has petitioned to have the Board of Trustees substituted for the Florida Board of Education (FBOE) as the successor employer by administrative fiat. If this petition were approved, University faculty would not be able to vote on their preferences for union representation. The University Board of Trustees has responded to the UFF petition, stating that they disagree and consider the petition improper under the Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC) due to their belief that employees should have the right to vote. The PERC hearing officer for UNF has directed UFF to show cause as to why its petition should not be dismissed based on established PERC precedent.
Although UNF was the first respondent, similar orders were issued to other state institutions. If UFF’s petition is not honored, the Board of Trustees could voluntarily recognize the UFF as the faculty union, could negotiate with UFF to alter who was to be recognized as in-unit, or could require the union to go through a faculty vote. Dr. Campbell pointed out that although collective bargaining agreement expires on January 7, faculty concerns such as their rights to tenure and the loss of academic freedom are unfounded. Such rights would remain in place as the policies governing those areas are included in the Faculty Handbook and other personnel documents.
Chair Thompson expressed her appreciation for their contributions and asked for questions or comments. Trustee Halverson asked about the timeline for devolution. Ms. Sheppard stated that it was very time consuming and that there was no way to estimate how long it would take. Dr. Campbell noted that timelines used to be very specific but those timelines had now been rescinded. Trustee Halverson also asked if any other unions were seeking to represent faculty. Ms. Sheppard stated that she didn’t know of any rival unions interested in representing faculty. She pointed out that as the public employer, the Board could also have an unfair labor practice filed against them for not allowing other unions an opportunity to seek to represent faculty.
Trustee Halverson had another question regarding the impact of the Graham amendment, should it pass in November. Ms. Sheppard replied that although it could be unsettled for some time, the Board of Trustees would remain the public employer for at least six months. Trustee Halverson spoke of the possibility of working with other universities to maintain some continuity regarding these issues. There has been discussion of a small consortium but we would remain legally independent.
Chair Thompson stated that one of the reasons for the workshop was to reiterate that the Board is committed to creating an employee environment that is protective of faculty and employee rights. The Board is responsible for addressing collective bargaining issues. She asked if the information discussed today would be communicated to faculty and was answered in the affirmative by Dr. Campbell.
Trustee Halverson noted that although this was the first time litigation had been initiated that involved and named the Board, it would occur again as the Board is the legally responsible party. He felt that a process to ensure that these issues are promptly addressed should be initiated. Chair Thompson acknowledged that this was a fair request and stated that she had spoken with Dr. Kline and Dr. Campbell about the idea of having a smaller group establish principles to then be brought back to the Board. Trustee Twomey addressed Ms. Stone, asking how the process would go from here. Ms. Stone responded that we were allowed to have closed meetings regarding litigation but would have to go through a public meeting process. Collective bargaining can be discussed in a closed setting, although the Board chose not to do so for this workshop. Trustee Halverson suggested a policy on unionization and representation for these policies, and that a procedure for gathering information on issues of larger impact, such as this one, should be instated. Chair Thompson replied that she would prefer to err on the side of more meetings, particularly as she did not wish to act for the Board inappropriately, and that she would welcome suggestions for how to approach this. She suggested having another workshop to discuss these issues at a later time as more information becomes available.
Dr. Kline announced that a seminar on state university collective bargaining and devolution would be held at Stetson University on October 11. Dr. Campbell and the UFF attorney will be presenting. He offered to get more information for anyone interested in attending.
Chair Thompson thanked Dr. Campbell and Ms. Sheppard and the workshop was ended.
Copyright © 2016 University of North Florida1 UNF Drive | Jacksonville, FL 32224 | Phone: (904) 620-1000