University Senate - August 3, 2020 Meeting Minutes

Call to Order and Announcements

The University Senate was called to order at 3:30 p.m., via WebEx, on Monday, August 3, 2020. Attendance was not taken.

  1. Announcements and Remarks by the Chair of Senate Executive Committee, Dana Cox.

    1. Senator Cox reminded senators and guests of the norms and voting procedures.

    2. Human Resources and Academic Personnel are in the process of updating personal information. Please go online and ensure your information is up to date.
  2. Campus Update, Provost Osborne
    1. Wednesday of this week, Jayne Brownell (Vice President for Student Affairs) and Jason Osborne (Provost and Executive Vice President) are hosting a question and answer session for incoming students. We have been getting a lot of questions since deciding to go remote for the first 5 weeks. A decision will be made before Labor Day weekend as to whether or not we will have to remain remote for the semester. I

    2. Provost Osborne officially completed his first year at Miami. He will be sharing summaries of the highlights, including MiamiRise, Boldly Creative, and the budget situation.

    3. Students can elect to do fully online or remote. They can request access to labs (Return to Research).

    4. The Vice President for Research and Innovation search has been reorganized. The top three candidates from the spring are still available and excited. There will be virtual sessions to meet the candidates.

    5. In 2022, we will have the 50th anniversary of the relationship with the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma. There will be more information between now and then about the celebrations to honor the relationship.

Approval of University Senate Minutes

  1. A motion was received, seconded, and carried to approve the July 20, 2020, minutes of University Senate with the following corrections:

Consent Calendar

  1. The following items were received on the consent calendar:

    1. Academic policies for Fall 2020 (Credit/No Credit, Incomplete Grades, Reporting Course Evaluation, Expansion of the Tenure (Promotion) Clock, and External Evaluations)

      Senator Euen (University Registrar) asked whether the credit/no credit policy and the incomplete grades policy had been reviewed with the Undergraduate Academic Advising Council (UAAC). Associate Provost Wanko stated that it had been shared with them today and will be discussed in a meeting this week. Senator Euen asked that those two policies be pulled until they could be more broadly discussed due to issues encountered last spring. Program Review Committee Annual Report

New Business

  1. Furlough Policy – Review of Current Policy and Consultation - Robin Parker, General Counsel

    1. Provost Osborne introduced Robin Parker, General Counsel, who has asked to come to Senate on a consultation basis regarding the Furlough Policy. We are in a challenging situation and modifications to the policy are being proposed to address unexpected challenges.

    2. Ms. Parker explained that the current Furlough Policy has a cap of 20 days with no more than five furlough days in a row. The proposal is to remove the limits to create flexibility. Almost every Ohio public 4-year institution has modified their furlough policy since April. University of Toledo, Ohio University, Ohio State University, and University of Cincinnati do not have any limits in the number of furlough days. Bowling Green State University has a two-tiered system where the President enacts the first 20 days, after which the Board of Trustees approves more days. The University of Akron has a limit of 70 days. Wright State University has a limit of 10 days, but the policy has not been revised since 2018.

    3. Furloughs are enacted in a consultation manner. The President consults with CPAC (Classified Personnel Advisory Council), UPAC (Unclassified Personnel Advisory Council), and the Fiscal Priorities and Budget Planning Committee. Fiscal Priorities then reports to Senate. Thirty days notice is given before the furlough is enacted.

    4. The Provost asked Ms. Parker to explain the difference between a furlough, a layoff, and a position elimination. In a furlough, the employee remains employed and retains health insurance and continues to make contributions to retirement. It is a loss of salary only. In some institutions, there are graduated systems based on income so that lower income positions have a limited number of furlough days, or maximum percentage income lost. In the case of a layoff, the employee is terminated, but there is some anticipated recall. In the case of a position elimination, the position is no longer available and the employee cannot be employed in that position again.

    5. Senators engaged in the following questions and discussion:

      1. How does unemployment compensation work in the case of a furlough? Typically, an employee has to be out of work an entire week in order to qualify for unemployment. This is not a requirement under the current federal guidelines. When you are furloughed, it is typically not for more than a week at a time. In the case of the AFSME workers this summer, a furlough was offered for an extended period of time, and in this case, they were eligible to collect unemployment. They were also eligible for the extra $600 per week federal stimulus, so in most cases, employees were making more money on furlough.

      2. Can an employee get another job while on furlough? It would be differential among units, but the employee would have to fill out an external services request.

      3. There are differences in furloughs in terms of faculty and staff. Faculty can be furloughed on days that they don’t have class, but that really doesn’t work well. They cannot be furloughed in the summer because they are not on contract. Workload can be reduced by reducing service time, etc.

      4. It was asked if this is like a pay cut? Yes

      5. What is the context for the current furlough policy? In 2009, during the recession, it was brought to Senate. The State was furloughing employees for 20 days. Miami drafted a model policy. The thought regarding a furlough is that it is better than layoffs (keep health benefits and retirement contributions).

      6. Is there a limit by law to the number of furlough days? No, but there is a practical limit to this.

      7. Are faculty who are externally funded by grants (e.g. Scripps Gerontology) exempt? They may not be furloughed. Also, employees on H1B visas cannot be furloughed.

      8. For faculty who have research work, how would they be affected? Since we have never done this, it is uncertain as to all of the practical applications. We are not closing the University. It would be intermittent.

      9. At what point would we have to be remote before we would have to do this? That is uncertain; however, Ms. Parker would need to have a draft ready for the September Board of Trustees meeting.

      10. A senator remarked that having no limits is very scary, but so is being laid off. Would it be possible to have a graduated number of days off, but not unlimited? Yes, this is a graduated furlough, but the numbers have to be ‘reverse engineered’. It was noted that senior administrators have already taken a 10% pay cut.

      11. It was noted that this is not a Senate controlled matter. The Board makes the final decision. Our most vulnerable staff are those who are most impacted by a reduction in campus services (e.g. Housing and Dining staff). There is a provision that you can take the furlough days and spread the financial impact over the remainder of the contract. However, this cannot occur with hourly staff. If they don’t work; they won’t get paid. They still would be benefit-eligible.

      12. There was a concern expressed that employees cannot go on unemployment; however, our most vulnerable employees are the ones who are furloughed. It would impact them not to be able to collect unemployment. It was noted that this summer, the AFSME voluntary furloughs were done at a point in time when it was advantageous to them. The maximum unemployment benefit is approximately $455.00/week, and the federal supplement stimulus gave $600.00 additional/week. Most salaried staff making over $50,000 would make more money (without the government supplement) working four days a week than if they were collecting unemployment. What if there is still not enough work for those staff? That is the issue and why this situation is so bad. That’s why it’s important for everyone to do what they need to do (wearing face masks, hand washing, etc.), because we want to stay open this fall.

      13. There was concern about making a policy when we don’t truly understand the situation. What happens if people are continually furloughed, and it still doesn’t work?. This is all ‘awful’, but furlough is the best option so that the employee retains health insurance and retirement benefits. If the University cannot get what it needs from furloughs, the next step down is layoffs. A layoff would not protect either of those benefits..

      14. It was confirmed that if an hourly employee was off for a week on furlough, they could file for unemployment and keep their benefits.

      15. Parker stated that what she needs is to remove the first two sentences in the Implementation Clause of the Furlough policy (Employees may not be furloughed for more than twenty (20) working days in any fiscal year.  Furloughed employees may be required to take up to five (5) consecutive working days or forty (40) consecutive working hours off without pay.) Striking the first sentence gets rid of the cap; striking the second sentence would allow more flexibility in terms of when the furlough could occur (e.g. 10 days over the holiday break.)

      16. Senator Cox indicated that today’s task is to look at the options in a consultation basis and not to implement anything. There may be other tools to ‘fill the hole.’

      17. A senator expressed that Senate is advisory. Is that true with respect to this process? If Senate does not agree with a furlough plan, the Board of Trustees can overrule, correct? Yes. The senator commented that the Senate would be expressing principles and recommended that the two sentences be replaced with a statement indicating a ‘graduated furlough.’

      18. The furloughs are announced 30 days in advance. Would we still need that sentence of the policy? That part of the policy will not be changed because unclassified staff are paid on a monthly basis.

      19. Is Senate advised within 30 days then? Yes, the process of notification is that ‘The Fiscal Priorities and Budget Planning Committee, the chair of the Classified Personnel Advisory Committee (CPAC), the chair of the Unclassified Personnel Advisory Committee (UPAC), and chair of Senate Executive Committee shall be consulted before a determination is made that a significant operating budget deficit exists and that a furlough is required. Consultation shall be understood to be a substantive opportunity to provide feedback before a determination is made.  The Fiscal Priorities Committee shall report its determination to University Senate.  University Senate shall be afforded an opportunity to respond within the time frame set by the President. The time frame set by the President shall not be less than fourteen days (14) from the date the issue was first presented to the Fiscal Priorities Committee’. The plan is then executed.

      20. A point of clarification was made that the language regarding ‘graduated furlough’ is already in the policy: ‘Furloughs may be implemented on a differential, intermittent, or staggered basis based on pay/salary level, employee classification or nature of appointment.’ A motion was made and seconded to strike the two sentences and change ‘may’ to ‘will’ in the above sentence.

      21. The norms of senate during the past year have been to work through motions. Ms. Parker indicated that no action is required today. She wanted to come to Senate well in advance of the September 25, 2020, Board of Trustees meeting for a consultation.

      22. Senator Cox recommended that we talk to our constituents and reminded us that today is an ‘education day’. We don’t want to rush anything. It is best to leave it to the first meeting of the next Senate. Having the break would allow Senator Cox and Pohlhaus to work together on a motion. There are so many unknowns, and we need to give the Board of Trustees maximum flexibility.

      23. There is flexibility in the language as to how this is to be implemented. The Board meets in September and again in December, we don’t want to write prescriptive language. We don’t know what the size of the budget gap will be because of the uncertainty. We don’t know if students will be able to return to campus after the five weeks and we don’t know the number of students who have opted to do the online option. We shouldn’t say that the Board ‘will’ do it. We need to give the Board the maximum amount of flexibility possible to try to minimize the impact on the employees. Remember that the plan will come to Senate. All the tools have to be on the table.

      24. How does graduated furlough integrate with the idea that there may be people with less to do? Just because there are no students on campus does not mean there isn't anything to do. It’s hard to say. The more restrictive the furlough policy, the more likely there may be layoffs if there is financial need.

      25. Is there a practical time limit for furloughs? It would need to be spread out because it’s easier on the employee. It’s better to plan for the whole fiscal year to help with the financial impact.

      26. Can the allowable times off be clarified? Will workload be reduced? Furloughs are more common to do when people are off due to lower levels of work (e.g. Cleveland State did a furlough over the summer.)

      27. A suggestion was made to postpone voting. Will there be an actual resolution to show to our constituents? Yes, a resolution will be forthcoming. Executive Committee accepts resolutions from Senators and non-senators. Ms. Parker wanted to stress that however this is discussed it is to be discussed in terms of a policy and not a plan. We are really just looking at taking off a number.

      28. Is it possible to take limits off of sub-groups? The number of people earning $100,000/year is far greater than those making over $100,000/year. Setting artificial limits up front may not be realistic. It’s difficult to do that because you don’t know the ‘hole’ you’re going to have.

      29. Things have gotten conflated. Are we talking about writing a Sense of the Senate to the Board about the policy? The issue at hand are the two sentences. A suggestion from Ms. Parker is to write a list of considerations for administration to take into account when considering a furlough.

      30. Much of this conversation has dealt with implementation, not with the actual policy.

    6. Ms. Parker was asked to return to Senate on August 17, 2020 for further consultation.

    7. After some discussion, it was resolved that Senator Pohlhaus’ motion (bolded above) was seconded and remains under discussion. There was a motion to table the discussion, which was approved: 36 aye; 3 nay; 2 abstentions. It was noted that this motion was tabled as well as the SR 20-25. It will need to be determined which one is discussed first.


  1. The Regular Session of University Senate was adjourned at 5:00 p.m.