Minutes of Meeting: March 3, 2009

Hartwick College Staff Council meeting

March 3, 2009

Present: Mike Haehnel, Judy Walsh, Shirley Georgia, Alicia Fish, Linda Wells, Carla Kinser, Dave Moxley, Kathleen Traynor, Colmin Gajadar, Tara Loewenguth, Jane Bachman, Kim Noling, Anne Carman, Anne Moriarty, Deb Hilts, Stephanie Brunetta.

Meeting called to order at 9 AM.


-Minutes of the 2/3/09 and 2/10/09 meetings were approved as submitted.

Treasurer's Report

-The Professional Development Committee (PDC) has requested funds for the purchase of raffle items for their table at the Hartwick Wellness Fair.

Tara explained that at the start of this year, the PDC decided to arrange monthly workshops rather than a Wellness Fair, in part due to negative feedback from some community members (because of 'non-scientific' or alternative offerings) in the past. The PDC decided that this year they would instead 'piggy-back' on the community-wide Wellness Fair, and staff a table where staff can complete PDC surveys; those who complete surveys may enter in a raffle drawing for 2 baskets.

-Approval for the funds was approved, with 1 opposed.

Staff Council Budget


Summary Year to Date






Coffee Hours



Wellness Fair



Recognition Award







Mardi Gras




Misc, Give-aways, Luncheon




October Luncheon




Prof. Development Speakers







Ice Cream Social







Unbudgeted Allocation



Total Allocation




Garage Sale Money


Old Business


New Business

Benefit reductions and other matters discussed at the President's February conversation:

-One of the roles of the HCSC is to give feedback to the Cabinet.

If losing HC pension contribution would prevent staff reductions-may be more acceptable

The timeframe for this is unclear-is it just for one year, or longer?

Questions were raised regarding whether it makes sense for employees to stop their contributions; whether that retirement money can be withdrawn, and what kind of support (e.g. financial counseling, TIAA CREF counselors) will be available.

From the perspective of long-term employees, once something is taken away, it often takes a while to be replaced (if ever); there is concern about what will be offered in the future.

As much has been asked of employees over the years (lack of or minimal raises, etc) the question arose whether this (retirement contribution freeze) is too much to ask of employees; in addition, as

many employees take jobs at HC for the benefits, effects on future hiring are a concern.

It was expressed that perhaps the idea of freezing retirement contributions was designed to avoid affecting employees' day to day income (with salary decreases or layoffs). It does affect retirement, which is unfortunate-but if the president needs this pool of money to keep HC going, perhaps we also need to look at the broad view/long term, and consider it if it accomplishes that goal. At the same time we should suggest that financial/TIAA-CREF counselors be brought to campus so that employees can have the best information on how to manage the situation.

It was suggested that if HCSC objects to this plan, it should have an alternate plan to create a pool of money to recommend to Cabinet.

However, it's difficult to know what else to recommend-as we know so little about the college's finances. There's concern that the Budget Advisory Committee, which was meant to be a forum for staff and faculty to offer suggestions and feedback, hasn't met since January; when it did meet there was little of substance discussed about the college's budget. The committee was suspended in January by George Elsbeck; it seemed that the 'Dollar Up' and 'Dollar Down' committees have taken its place.

There's also concern about communication from the 'Dollar Up/Down' committees; it was understood that recommendations would go to the BAC; at this point recommendations have gone only to Cabinet. There has been no communication to the campus community regarding the recommendations made by the 2 committees; that seems a serious lack. It was suggested that more open and honest communication regarding the financial situation of the college is needed.

The lack of communication on some key issues brought up the issue of whether HCSC wants a representative on Cabinet. HCSC was offered the monthly conversation with the president-is that adequate to ensure our concerns, etc. are communicated to Cabinet, and that information is communicated to us?

Concern was expressed about health benefits also; it was noted that changes evidently occurred in our MVP insurance in October (e.g. annual physicals are no longer covered at no cost)-but the community didn't receive any information about it. The Personnel committee will invite Suzanne Janitz & George Elsbeck to a meeting to ask about these changes, so that the campus can be informed.

Council Vote

-A vote was conducted by HCSC members for a representative on the scholarship committee, with Shirley Georgia voted the winner.

Staff Suggestion: Reduced On-Campus Parking:

-A brief discussion arose regarding whether there are ways to decrease the number of people who need to park on campus, and whether employees should be required to buy parking permits (which is the case on many campuses). Evidently Tom Kelly has been working on this since his arrival.

Mike and the Executive committee will meet to pull together issues to address with the president, to be given to her prior to the meeting with her (e.g. retirement contribution freeze, concern over the dissolution of the Budget Advisory Committee and lack of communication regarding results from the Dollar Up/Down committees).

The meeting was adjourned at 10:07.

Respectfully submitted,

Jane Bachman