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Employee Assembly Meeting
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
12:15 — 1:30 p.m.
316 Day Hall
Donna Goss called the meeting to order and introduced Amy O’Donnell, the new coordinator for the Employee Assembly.
Amy O’Donnell said she has worked at Cornell for 16 years in a variety of offices including Alumni Affairs, Campus Life, and Baker Institute. She is an Ithaca native and is interested in learning more about Roberts Rules.
L. Lawrence said he’d like to talk about the New Student Reading Project.
P. Mahoney said she would like to add a brief statement about the Finance Committee Budget.
Male member asked Leon if he would like to add TOPIC to the agenda. Leon agreed.
D. Goss reported that on July 19, they helped host the SEED event. It was very successful. She thanked everyone who helped and participated. There were over 450 people who attended the event. They were set up right next to the Empire State College Booth. Gary Boyer was there representing Empire State College Program. Just as a follow up — there were 5 people who signed up for the Empire State College Program. There were also another 10 inquiries, and they are expecting 5 more people to sign up. She said they should all feel good about those results. The next item she discussed was the retreat, which will take place August 30. She asked everyone to make sure it was on their calendar. The timeframe for the retreat is 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. It will be held at Dennis Stein’s cottage. He will provide directions today either later in the meeting or by email. The basic format will be: Coffee, muffins, and bagels in the morning, followed by a session with Jim Sheridan to help the members talk about what they accomplished this past year, what was successful or unsuccessful, and what they want to do in the upcoming year. After lunch, Jim will help them set goals in the afternoon. Basically it will be the same format as last year. One other thing they will cover is the committee structure so everyone knows what the EA’s standing committees are, what the vacancies are, what times they meet, and what happened in committees last year. They will also be deciding what they’d like the committees to accomplish this year. They might wait until the end of the retreat to determine what committees are going to do based on what goals they’ve set for the EA. Amy has also been invited to the retreat. She has the EA binders to circulate, which include the charter and other important information. The binders also outline the responsibilities of EA members, which is something she would like to focus on this year. Amy will also circulate a contact list, and everyone should check and correct their information, if necessary. Amy is also going to help with the Oracle calendar. The EA has its own calendar, but there are a few problems with it to work out before they can use it to keep track of various meetings.
Andri Goncarovs said they have a few administrative things to finish up. Even though they took an email proxy vote about a parliamentarian, they made no real provisions for it within their standard meeting and it is not in the EA bylaws, which they will discuss later. He said they need to officially go through and get it into the minutes that they’ve approved Christine as parliamentarian. He made a motion to approve Christine as Parliamentarian.
The motion was seconded and there was no other discussion. The motion was called to vote. A vote was taken via voice and passed unanimously.
IOC — University Assembly Employee Representation
A. Goncarovs then addressed the issue of their University Assembly representatives. He said that four people have agreed to continue serving, two of whom have a year left in their term: Tammy Bishop and Rodney Orme, Henry Granison and Leon Lawrence are the other two members who will be serving on the UA. He is waiting to hear back from Pan Dusseau, but they need to follow the formal procedure for appointing Henry and Leon. He made a motion to appoint Henry Granison and Leon Lawrence to the UA.
D. Goss asked Leon if he is willing to serve again.
L. Lawrence answered yes, he is willing to serve.
The motion was seconded. There was no other discussion. A vote was taken via voice and the motion passed.
(Note: All positions on the UA are filled by Tammy Bishop, Rodney Orme, Henry Granison, and Leon Lawrence as per email from Andri Goncarovs after follow-up with Pamela Dusseau. 8/23/06)
IOC — Email Proxy Vote Discussion
A. Goncarovs said he would like to take a few minutes to talk about formalizing their email proxy vote so that, in the future, they can take care of business by email when necessary. He has looked into a few rules that other groups use, and Christine will be further investigating appropriate rules as parliamentarian. He hopes to have a formal presentation ready for their next meeting so they could actually take a vote on the issue and put it in the bylaws. In order to do so, they would need to have 2/3 of the vote in favor of the proposal.
C. Brown said she’d like to say a few things about it. Generally, you can vote electronically, but you do have to make efforts to keep it similar to a regular vote. For instance, you have to make sure people have an opportunity for discussion, which they could do by email. They also have to make sure you have people only voting once, which they can do with the list-serve. She said she would put together a written proposal, but her opinion is that for changing the bylaws, they should keep it broad and refer to electronic voting, not limiting it to just email votes, because there are various different formats you can use. For instance, they may someday want to look into having members vote on a website.
L. Lawrence asked, in light of recent controversies surrounding national presidential elections because of electronic voting, what guarantees they could have in place to ensure fair voting since there would be no ‘paper trail.”
C. Brown said there are really two issues. One is just allowing them to do it. Just because it’s in the bylaws that you can do it, doesn’t mean you have to do it that way. You do have to make sure that people are not allowed to vote more than once. If you have a website set up with individual net-IDs or employee IDs, you could work something out. The other issue is how much effort they want to put into it. They also have to look at making it easier for employees to participate in the whole process. If they could do it electronically, they might be more willing to participate.
L. Lawrence asked about other than elections, where do employees vote on things outside this room or forum? Also asked what would happen if they decide to vote electronically and the system or software goes down, what safeguards would they have in place. Also, how long would those votes be kept on record?
C. Brown said the information would be kept on record the same amount of time as other forms of voting are.
L. Lawrence asked how long other forms of voting are kept on record.
P. Beach said, as far as elections go, she isn’t sure what the requirements are for keeping the results on record. However, they do have a precedent to follow because the Student Assembly handles their elections electronically. They use an off-campus vendor for those elections because they have had some problems on campus with fraud due to the fact that our students are really bright. They are working on creating some sort of back-end process, probably Kerberos protected, so you know people are only voting once. In that case, even if they do vote twice, it will only be counted once. Then they would have that information archived for whatever amount of time is required. It certainly is possible. The question is more of how the members feel about what they’re doing within the assembly and making decisions in voting electronically. Also, they should think about things like how long is the appropriate amount of time to give people to respond to an email. There are all sorts of specific rules like that to think about.
I. Mahler said that is a valid issue because she rarely checks email. She doesn’t often work with a computer. She missed the last vote because it was around two weeks before she could check her email.
A. Goncarovs said that what Christine was saying is that in terms of voting on issues within the board, it makes sense to think about the issue in a way that would include other forms of electronic voting that may also be useful. I want to be sure that we are all talking about the same thing here. There really are two issues. Though there are similarities, one use of electronic voting is really a tool for the board and the other that has been brought up are elections. He thinks these are two very different issues that they need to make a distinction between. However, given that there seems to be an interest in maybe using electronic voting, it is something they might want to bring up in the future.
Female member said that Inda raised a good point. They need to be aware that people might not get these emails. They should think about what type of time limit they want to look at.
I. Mahler said she knows she is probably one of the exceptions, but it would even work to call her if there’s something she’s supposed to be looking for.
Female Member said that if a call for a vote goes out, it needs to include specifically the date everyone should respond by.
A. Goncarovs said that Christine would put together a proposal for the next meeting.
Male member asked if, in the case of a call going out to let someone know that an email vote is being taken, is there a way to make sure the call goes out to everyone.
Female member said that might be useful, a broadcast.
Male member said there is a function of Audix that does that.
Female member asked if all they were talking about is using electronic voting in the instance that you could not make it to the meeting. They aren’t suggesting that everyone use electronic voting before every meeting.
A. Goncarovs said no, it would just be used in specific instances, but not as an everyday voting method. It would also probably be something that would be driven by the Chair.
D. Goss said that what brought this up was voting to appoint Christine to Parliamentarian. They did that all over email because they were on their summer break. They didn’t have a meeting and wanted to fill the position, so they agreed as a group to use an email proxy vote. However, that is not specifically mentioned in our charter. It’s about updating our policy to bring us into the 21st century so they can operate a little better.
A. Goncarovs said one of the other reasons for formalizing this is as they start using it, without rules, they might slide down a slippery slope where they start to do it a certain way or begin relying on it. If they formalize that process and put some restrictions on how and when they use it, they will have a tool that they can use without uncertainty.
IOC — Cornell Master Plan
D. Goss reminded the assembly that Andri is also the contact person for the Master Plan committee, which is the next matter of business. She had talked with Mina Amundsen who was proposing that the campus master planners come to meet with assembly members on September 20th. That date will no longer work, and she has suggested Friday September 8th instead. The master planners will be on campus at that time because they are presenting to the Buildings and Properties Committee on Friday morning, the Board of Trustees on Friday at noon. They have the ILR Conference Center reserved. She wanted to know how many members would be available around 2 p.m. If they can’t get a majority together to meet, they will have to postpone that meeting until later in October.
L. Lawrence asked if the meetings the planners are holding earlier that day are closed to just those targeted audiences.
D. Goss answered yes, they are closed.
There was a consensus among the assembly members that they should try and meet on September 8th.
L. Lawrence asked if they are meeting with any other assemblies.
D. Goss answered no.
A. Goncarovs said they are meeting with other stakeholders like the trustees, but not the other assemblies.
D. Goss said they have held meetings with other assemblies, they just won’t be holding additional meetings with them on the 8th.
P. Beach said that the planners did meet with the students at the end of last semester.
Male Member said he thought Leon was referring to other information sessions that are planned for later this semester.
D. Goss said that they should take this opportunity to meet with the planners if a majority of members can be them. The planners want to interact with the employees, so they should be involved. She said the meeting will probably be around 2 or 3 p.m, She will book the meeting and let them know.
A. Goncarovs said that he has talked with Mina Amundsen at length. In early June, they discussed how the assembly could engage in the process and share what they do, as well as getting feedback from the employee group at large. It seemed that Nina wanted to slow the process down a little with scheduling and wanted to do the stakeholder meetings in the fall. She seemed to want to have a little more control over how feedback came to her and, thus, to the consultants. Now she wants to hear from stakeholder leadership groups like the EA again. She doesn’t want to have the assembly go out and field comments in general. She would prefer to use website to funnel and filter comments. There are some general politics that have to be resolved before they can proceed. The meeting in early September will be very important and will reinforce that employees and staff are very interested in and concerned about how the master plan turns out. It will be a chance to show that employees want to be involved in the process.
D. Goss said last year Andri drafted two documents based on assembly discussions about their role in outreach and what other roles the assembly can or should play. She thinks they should re-circulate these documents before the meeting on the 8th. That will give the assembly a chance to revisit their own ideas and then, possibly, to talk with the consultants about what they want to see the EA do.
L. Lawrence said the planners need to realize that if they want feedback from staff, the members are going to have to go out, at some point, and talk to the staff. It can’t be just a dozen assembly members representing the staff if they haven’t even talked to constituents.
D. Goss said that there is the website and a link for staff to use for feedback. However, the staff needs to know about it.
A. Goncarovs said that the political side of this issue is that the assembly needs to make it clear how they feel, but also realize that the planning office want to keep control of how information goes out. He said he doesn’t feel that the planning office has a full grip on the master plan yet; it is a huge project. David Skorton knows how important the master plan is, but he really needs to throw his full weight behind the project.
L. Lawrence said he wants to be sure the EA is not used as the mouthpiece for the staff.
D. Goss said that is not the intent and the assembly should make that clear in the meeting.
A. Goncarovs reminded the members that there have been some informal discussions with staff and students. Some of those thoughts, as well as ideas from Alumni Affairs and Development and from the EA, have been forwarded.
D. Goss said that, even still, Leon raises a good point and it should be brought up in the meeting on the 8th that the assembly would like to and should be able to contact its constituents. Some people in the community still do not understand what the Master Plan is and why they should care about it.
A. Goncarovs said that he would re-circulate the documents before the meeting on the list-serve.
P. Mahoney said she doesn’t have a statement ready, but will provide one for next month. She just wanted to let everyone know that, after Chili Chats and all the other events the EA put on last year, they are -$1,022. They carried over a debt of -$4,500, so they are now almost -$6,000 in debt.
D. Goss said the Chili Chats costs over $8,000.
P. Beach said HR might chip in some money for the Chili Chats.
D. Goss said she thinks it’s ok that they have that debt because they should ask HR for half of the money for the Chili Chats, which would be $4,000.
P. Beach said that it is also a new fiscal year so they will be transferring over about $9,400 from the administrative account. There is money there for them to use.
D. Goss said the idea is that they can justify the budget they have and show that they need more, especially in order to continue their outreach efforts, so the money they spent last year is worth it. She said she’d like to see the budget go up even more — to around $15,000 — so they could do even more.
Awards and Recognitions Committee
J. DeMarco said they’re in the process of making another addition of the Honor Roll. They are planning on giving Mary George Opperman a plaque at the President’s Address. It will be a surprise for her, so it should be kept confidential.
D. Goss said the President’s Address is scheduled for Monday, September 25 from 12:15–1:15 p.m. Amy O’Donnell has reserved the Alice Statler Auditorium. They will be using the Statler for catering, which may be a little more expensive, but will be worth it because this is a nice event. The Ramin Room is also reserved but, it’s more of an athletic space and the Statler seems more appropriate. She circulated the program from the last two years’ addresses and said they would be using that format again.
D. Goss said Empire State College representatives sent her a lot of brochures to mail out to staff. The idea is that they will help staff look for educational opportunities. She is in the process of drafting a cover letter to accompany the brochures and they should go out around the end of September.
P. Korolov said that the Chili Chat results are up and they are getting some feedback based on them.
D. Goss said they still need to put together a recommendation and report based on the Chili Chats. One of the EA’s goals was to continue Chili Chats for this year to talk about education for managers and supervisors to help staff to utilize vacation time in a way that made people feel good about taking time off of work. This is something they will talk about at the retreat.
Dennis Stein said there hasn’t been a full meeting of the committee over the summer, but there will be next week.
D. Goss said she would just like an update and to keep them in the loop.
D. Stein said the committee was originally developed by Mary Opperman. Their objective was to try to find ways to explore personal sustainability in the workplace. People would figure out ways to reduce stress, refresh, and sustain in the workplace and then teach others how to do the same. One goal is to help people be in the moment and enjoy life within the haste. There are several ways to explore the idea of sustainability in the workplace. They will probably come out with recommendations this semester, including things like a list of 5 to 10 minute walks to take around campus or ways to identify your strengths in the workplace.
D. Goss asked if everyone had signed up for inauguration.
P. Beach reminded the assembly that the EA has been invited to process as representatives of employees. She asked them to please RSVP. It would be nice to have around 10 people to march. Members can RSVP at inauguration.cornell.edu. Members would need to be there to line up at 2:30 p.m., the bells will chime at 3:00, and the procession will start right after that. The procession will go from Ho Plaza to the Arts Quad. All information about regalia and meeting places will be distributed. The UA members have also been invited. Marching in the procession is important and she feels that it is essential to have employees represented in the ceremony and the EA is the only representation of staff.
A. O’Donnell said (in response to questions about dinner following the event) that the deadline for RSVPs to dinner has passed, but she will check into it.
P. Beach said that, since they are working with caterers, it might not be very easy to add people after the RSVP date. If there is space, it might be possible, but they also might not be able to.
Female Member announced that September 30th will be Employee Day. The event will be held in Barton Hall with Cornell catering chicken BBQ and lasagna. The game will be at 7 p.m. The seating for the BBQ will be at 5 p.m., followed by the typical activities. A Save-the-Date message should be going out soon. They will probably be asking the assembly for volunteers for the day of the event.
New Student Reading Project
L. Lawrence said this program started 5 years ago. Each year, all new incoming students — around 3,000 — read a book (this year’s book was The Great Gatsby). They have a big event in Barton Hall followed the next day by small study groups. What occurred to me is that employees and staff might want to take part in this. Should we be in contact with Provost Biddy Martin to also involve staff beyond the students on campus in the greater community there’s a community read, not just Ithaca but in other upstate towns. The books are published especially for Cornell, the Cornell edition, would we be interested?
D. Stein shared what the Office of Human Resources does. Last year, they participated, read the book, and had discussions over the lunch hour. About 25 people joined, and they had very rich discussions. He said it was a great chance to interact with other OHR employees that he knew, but didn’t know in terms of their backgrounds. In discussions about the book, everyone had very different perspectives based on those backgrounds; it was a very heartfelt discussion.
L. Lawrence said that if the provost agreed that staff should be included, the provost would pay for the book. For students, books are mailed home in the summer with 10 questions about the book. Each student writes an answer to one question and turns it in to discussion facilitator. The provost office chooses the best answer for each question and gives the student who wrote it a $200 gift certificate to bookstore. The program is over for this year, but the book is still available at the Tompkins County Library and maybe at the Cornell Store.
A. O’Donnell said that some offices already participate in this, including buying the books for their staff.
D. Goss said it would also provide a nice connection point for students and staff.
There was a consensus that it was worth looking into for building relationships and community with students and staff, but also between staff members.
P. Mahoney recommended that they have some time to think about Leon’s proposal and discuss it at a future time. She has some reservations about having it endorsed by the EA and asking staff members to take on yet another thing in their busy schedules.
P. Beach announced the picnic on the Arts Quad organized by Welcome Weekend, HR, and Dining. It’s the start of a new tradition to get everyone together and have some fun at the beginning of the semester. Cost is $7 and they will be serving a new sub that they are rolling out for this year.
P. Mahoney motioned to adjourn. H. Hall seconded the motion. The meeting was adjourned at 1:30 p.m.
Lisa Gilbertson, EA Clerk
Office of the Assemblies