Meeting summaries for the current academic year are found below. Archives can be found in the menu at the left.
Present: Lori Shults, Beth Pae, Emily Lindo, Shana Hart, Ellen Harbourt, Rachel Shoman, Kyle Eddy, Nancy Sowders, Annie Ellsworth, Barbara Kakiris, Rebecca Matney, Lauri Lange, Susan Morse.
KSC is not charged with providing any input into said policy, but is asked to discuss how communications can be improved across campus. The Communications Subcommittee has been working with LBIS and other departments to offer training on technology tools including Gmail and the college calendar. Please see Communications Subcommittee notes below for further detail.
KSC meetings will continue to take place next semester during the currently scheduled time, which is the first Wednesday of every month at 10 a.m. (in rotating locations).
The next KSC meeting will be Feb. 1, 2017 in the College Relations Conference Room. There will be no meeting on Jan. 4, 2017.
The group discussed the manner in which Division/Department meetings are held on campus and how KSC members should take time to communicate meeting information to their areas as well as take requests for items KSC should consider. Departments differ in approach to informational meetings, so all were encouraged to be proactive in enabling communication.
The group is starting to look at modifications to the Employee Handbook — employees are encouraged to view the handbook online and provide input to any member of the Benefits Subcommittee via email or by using this form.
New action items: KSC members asked the subcommittee to investigate two new items: (1) TIAA-CREF letters that were sent to employees detailing new fees associated with plans. People are unclear why these new fees are being assessed as well as why some funds are no longer available options; (2) Consideration of a new insurance provider due to the fact that employees are finding it increasingly difficult to locate in-network providers without leaving Knox County.
We would like to have a general discussion with KSC about ways to improve communication on campus. We want to hold a workshop in January the week before classes begin that covers how to use the Localist calendar on the Kenyon web site, how to manage your Gmail inbox, information about moderated email distribution lists and two factor authentication.
Feedback regarding the KSC Thanksgiving Luncheon was overwhelmingly positive. Many thanks go to Liza Stokes, AVI catering director, and her staff for putting on such a nice event for staff. People have continuously raved about the food at that meal.
The KSC Holiday Luncheon is KSC Holiday Luncheon is Dec. 14 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. in Peirce Hall’s Alumni Dining Room. Cost is $4 for employees and college retirees; $10 for guests. Lunch is free with the donation of two canned goods. Employees who bring an unwrapped toy receive a ticket for December’s raffle.
Employees are reminded that they may contact any member of the Outreach Subcommittee or submit an online form to let us know about colleagues’ life events. We welcome good and bad news, and will reach out to those about whom we’re informed in a timely manner. Colleagues have been extremely appreciative of our efforts and the subcommittee has truly enjoyed going out and meeting/talking to everyone.
No new business noted at this time. KSC wishes everyone a safe and happy holiday season.
KSC Holiday Luncheon is Dec. 14 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. in Peirce Hall’s Alumni Dining Room. Cost is $4 for employees and college retirees; $10 for guests. Lunch is free with the donation of two canned goods. Employees who bring an unwrapped toy receive a ticket for December’s raffle.
The Board of Trustees (BOT) approved the design for new spaces for the English Department—a building that will be built next to Lentz House and a cottage with a seminar room and offices. At this time there is no timeline for construction. Fundraising will go forward before breaking ground.
Sunset Cottage’s future is still under study. It cannot be made accessible or large enough to fit the English Department’s needs.
New housing behind Farr Hall and the market/student housing building are on track to be completed this coming summer. The next project will be to replace the two thirds of Farr Hall over to the Bookstore.
The black box theater is getting close to completion.
The Wright Center in downtown Mt. Vernon is getting close to completion. On the Sunday after Thanksgiving after the Thanksgiving parade the ground floor of the building will be open for the public to walk through.
Budget for next year was one of other main topics of the BOT meeting. There are major pressures on the budget including poor endowment performance last year as well as the increased demands on our self-funded system. There was discussion of finding ways to draw less from the endowment. Senior Staff and the Benefits Committee has been looking at ways to manage increasing health insurance costs for next year and beyond. The Benefits Committee will make a recommendation to Senior Staff. (See email from Jennifer Cabral).
The Benefits Committee was formed by President Decatur about a year ago bringing together members from senior staff, faculty governance and staff council.
The Title IX outside auditor’s report should be finished by the end of November. Pres. Decatur will share the recommendations with the whole community.
Please answer the Campus Climate survey if you have not. It will be available through the Thanksgiving Break.
Will decisions about the healthcare costs come to us before decisions about wages and salaries?
The decisions about wage and salary increases will be made in the same mix with the decisions about health insurance and will inform each other.
Could you update us on the new library planning?
Design for the new library is underway. There are many programmatic wishes for the new building. If all were to fit, it would need to be enormous. The process of planning is incremental — determining what should be in the building, getting a design in shape for the BOT to approve in April 2017, finding funding, and planning the transition.
Do you think the op-ed piece in the Collegian that stated that local students are looked down upon at Kenyon is representative? What is being discussed?
The divide felt by local students is not something new. President Decatur believes building connections is important — not only as an institutional citizen but as individuals who work here or got to school here. Many of us have parts of our identities in both worlds and that’s a good thing. We will only get beyond the stereotypes by engaging.
Can you give us a campaign update?
The quiet phase continues. The goal is $300 million with two thirds earmarked for endowment and one third for capital projects and other things. So far, $85 million has been committed. Sean has been getting good feedback about the goals on the road.
How will the board decide what factors will go into the health insurance decision?
The BOT will decide based on recommendations made by senior staff. The Benefits Committee is gathering feedback.
Are you aware that there are some inefficiencies occurring with the Middle Path Partnership and will President Decatur be more involved?
Pres. Decatur is dedicated to make sure that the MPP is successful. He had a general sense that things are moving in the right direction. He will look into the concerns voiced.
Update on the Early Decision I applicant pool?
A week ago the numbers of applicants were on par with last year’s numbers. The deadline was yesterday.
Todd Burson and Jennifer Cabral provided the group with an update on the campus’ health plan conversation.
Kenyon has experienced two years of larger than average health claims and the reserve the College maintains to cover plan shortages has been depleted. This required the annual operating budget to contribute over $900,000 to replenish the health plan reserve account during the 2015-16 plan year. For the two-year period beginning July 1, 2014 and ending June 30, 2016, health claims increased by 56 percent. It was hoped this was an anomaly after the 2014-15 plan year, but claims for 2015-16 continued to increase. Accordingly, Kenyon must undertake a thorough assessment of the health plan design for the purpose of reducing overall costs in future years.
Absent an immediate reduction in health claims or changes to the plan design to reduce cost, a premium increase of 20 percent will be required beginning July 1, 2017. In an attempt to reduce that premium increase to 15 percent or less, certain plan design changes are being considered for the upcoming year. View the proposed changes (PDF).
[Update, Nov. 15, 2016: Jennifer Cabral, director of human resources, sent out the following information to all employees:
The cost of health care is a major issue around the nation and at Kenyon as well. During the past two fiscal years, Kenyon has experienced higher than average claims in our employee health plan. The Kenyon Benefits Committee has met twice this fall to discuss options to control these costs both in the short and long term. Members of this committee include Lorie Shults and Ashleigh Zarley, Staff Council co-chairs; Professor of Art Marcella Hackbardt, chair of the Faculty Affairs Committee; Professor of Mathematics Carol Schumacher, chair of the faculty; Provost Joe Klesner; Jennifer Cabral, director of Human Resources; Susan Morse, chief of staff; Todd Burson, vice president for finance; Mark Kohlman, chief business officer; and Thomas S. Turgeon Professor of Drama Jon Tazewell, chair of the Resource Allocation and Assessment Subcommittee (RAAS.)
Members of the Benefits Committee invited feedback from faculty and staff about proposed changes to Kenyon’s health plan and premium increases for the upcoming year. The details of these potential changes were summarized in the FacPac and in Staff Council’s November meeting minutes. So far, those offering feedback would prefer to maintain the design of the current plan with increased premiums rather than adopt a modified plan with smaller premium increases. This information will be communicated to Senior Staff and will be considered as they continue to develop the 2017-18 operating budget to be presented to the Board of Trustees for approval at the February Board meeting.
This topic will continue to be discussed by the Benefits Committee, and information will be communicated by the Office of Human Resources going forward. If you have questions or concerns, I encourage you to contact me at email@example.com.]
Ellen Harbourt reported that Ron Griggs met with the Communications Subcommittee to discuss ways to improve communication — including changing the way people can use employee-info. Communications has volunteered to pull together a list of ways events can be advertised to campus. Ron asked if it was feasible to create a policy that no events can be advertised through employee-info (with some exceptions like last minute cancellations or location changes). Ellen requested that the group discuss this policy and other suggestions for events communication (the Communications Subcommittee would like to provide feedback to Ron and Patty Burns).
KSC members had questions regarding this subject, KSC’s role in the matter, and the distinction between employee-info usage and events communication. KSC co-chair Ashleigh Zarley plans to clarify the request with Senior Staff and the topic will be on the agenda for KSC’s December meeting.
All KSC members invited to the Benefits Subcommittee meeting to be held Monday, Nov. 7 at 11 a.m. in the Olin Multimedia Theater.
Topic 1: Health Plan Changes
Topic 2: Employee Handbook
KSC Thanksgiving Luncheon is Nov. 16 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. in Peirce Hall’s Alumni Dining Room. Cost is $4 for employees and college retirees; $10 for guests.
Next Meeting: Dec. 7, 2016 at 10 a.m.
Erika Farfan and Ron Griggs provided an update on this staff survey, which will be similar to the one issued to students. The survey will feature campus climate questions with the end goal of determining better programs policies and support/training for faculty and staff with regards to Title IX issues. Kenyon is partnering with Harvey Mudd College to run our survey anonymously. The survey will be announced in the near future.
Treasurer Beth Pae updated the group that we are on track fiscally for all expenditures, including efforts and programming by Outreach and Event Subcommittees.
Barbara Kakiris and Lorie Shults provided an overview of the Discrimination Advisor (DA) program and the fact that student DAs have been moved under the purview of ODEI, opening the discussion of what should happen with faculty/staff DAs. The group decided to invite Jennifer Cabral, Carrie Knell, Samantha Hughes, and Linda Smolak to our next meeting to discuss potential ideas for what makes sense campus-wise pertaining to a group of faculty/staff DAs.
No new business reported. Subcommittees will email minutes of meetings to the KSC distribution list.
The next KSC meeting will take place November 2, 2016, at 10 a.m. in the Eaton Center Conference Room.
The entire KSC group only meets once a month in favor of giving subcommittees more time to meet. Please meet with your subcommittees at least once between now and our next meeting.
An all-employee email was sent by Miracle Mahle requesting information for those who have travelled on official College business with students. Employees who have conducted overnight travel involving students within the timeframe of Jan. 1 – Dec. 31, 2016, should use this form to enter information about their trips in adherence with Kenyon’s Clery Act regulations.
President Decatur gave brief comments then opened up the floor for questions.
Rebecca Veidlinger was on campus doing the independent review of the College’s Title IX/VAWA policies and processes. There were many meetings with students, staff and faculty. The audit covers the cases from the 2015-16 academic year in which the new policy went into effect and will review whether the policies are within the federal guidelines, follow best practices as well as whether the policy was followed as written. All cases that went to investigation will be reviewed, though not reinvestigated or re-adjudicated. A report will be sent to the committee co-chaired by Ted Mason and Ruth Fisher (P’17, Board of Trustees member) later this semester and recommendations will be acted on immediately.
Anyone who would like to provide information to the audit can contact either Sean Decatur or Samantha Hughes who will provide contact information for Rebecca Veidlinger.
As we were informed earlier in the semester Kenyon College is being investigated by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. President Decatur said that he expected an investigation as many institutions with high profile cases are on the list. There are 275 investigations open and the average length of an investigation is one and half years, some lasting up to three years. The audit we have undergone this semester will provide much of the information needed to answer requests for information by the OCR.
Education efforts have been primary this semester. An anti-harassment training module is required to be completed by all employees of the college. The training covers College policies, state and federal law. First-year students were required to complete an online course before registering in August. Upper class students (sophomores, juniors and seniors) will need to complete the course before registering in November. The Title IX/Civil Rights Office members have been doing training for teams, student groups and departments. President Decatur stressed the need to not just become familiar with policy but to change culture on campus.
Short term, Bexley Hall will be valuable as swing space while other projects are done. For example, Bexley is a large space that could be repurposed during the library construction project. As for a permanent new purpose for Bexley Hall, nothing has been decided.
As the new apartment style housing comes on line in the village, the New Apartments will can be torn down one block at a time. There is no timeline yet. Mather, McBride, and Caples have never been renovated and all need work — both HVAC systems and infrastructure. Working on any of these buildings requires that we have 150 bed residence hall where students can be housed during each year-long renovation project. Renovating all of our existing residence halls would be a 12-15 year project. No plans have been created to begin this.
Adding 150-200 students to the college has wide reaching implications for the college. The declining size of the population of students in high school will continue to decline over the next 10 years. This is not a good time for a college to grow.
Seventeen hundred on campus is the size President Decatur imagines we will be for a while with a buffer of 30 plus or minus.
The campaign has been in the quiet phase for a year now focusing on major donors in the Trustees and friends of the College. The quiet phase will continue until 50-60 percent of the goal has been raised; this could take another year and a half. Two-thirds of the campaign goal of $300,000,000 will support financial aid and the academic programs.
Right now the College is 80 percent tuition dependent. This is not a good place to be because we need to hit our enrollment targets every year; there is little room for error. The pressures of inflation make this a moving target. The goal is to reduce our tuition dependence with the goals of the campaign. President Decatur hopes to move our tuition dependence to 75 percent of the annual budget.
Michelle Foster and Lee Schott described several new initiatives that have been created to welcome new employees to Kenyon and to foster community and social interaction with all employees.
Employees are encouraged to check out and follow two new Instagram accounts: @kcsocial and @kcsharesfood. The first is a way to let others know about activities in which you’re involved and would invite others to join. The second is for sharing food posts.
David Hoyt in the Office of Communications coordinates a Google doc for Kenyon employees — a calendar for a variety of events that are generated by those that belong to the group, everything from 5K walk/runs to wine/beer tastings occur and our peers would love us to join them for these activities. This is a great way to meet new friends and engage in some fun social events that are sometimes difficult to come by in Gambier.
New employees that watch a new orientation video and send their completion certificate to Michelle Foster will receive a reusable Kenyon lunch bag.
KSC and others are valued volunteers for conducting campus tours sponsored by HR Department for new employees.
The co-chairs of Kenyon’s United Way Campaign, Lisa Schott and Maureen Tobin, came to discuss strategies for garnering more participation from our colleagues in this year’s drive. Last year, 100 employees donated to the campaign. Ideas for events and incentives were discussed — stay tuned for communications from Lisa Schott for what’s in store this year.
Title IX Audit: Rebecca Veidlinger, who is overseeing the College's audit of Title IX policy, will be on campus from September 19-23 and will meet with Staff Council on September 21.
Subcommittees: All subcommittees should meet monthly and share their notes in the KSC Google Folder.
Two-Step Verification for IT Systems: We’re reminded to share with our departments the importance of using Google Authenticator to determine a method that best suits us individually for verifying personal information and making our Google accounts more secure.
Community Health Fair: Sept. 21, 1–4pm in KAC. Following the Health Fair, P.F. Kluge will be a featured speaker in the Beulah Kalher Theater giving a presentation on the film Dog Day Afternoon, which is inspired by his book.
KSC Employee Luncheon: September 28 from 11 a.m.–1 p.m. in the Alumni Dining Room, Peirce Hall.
No new business to report.
Members joined our various committees:
• Benefits: Ellen Harbourt, Shanna Hart, Miracle Mahle, Lorie Shults and Ashleigh Zarley
• Communications: Annie Ellsworth, Ellen Harbourt, Lauri Lange, Emily Lindo, Rebecca Matney and Andrew Oleson
• Events: Robyn Bowers, Pam Sheasby, Lorie Shults, Kim Totman and Lisa Train
• Outreach: Kyle Eddy, Barbara Kakiris, Beth Pae, Rachel Shoman and Nancy Sowders
We are discussing whether we will appoint chairs for each subcommittee, so stay tuned for that decision. In the meantime, employees are urged to contact any of the Kenyon Staff Council (KSC) members listed above with questions or concerns for subcommittee matters.
KSC members provided feedback on the proposed Employee Performance Program to be shared at the Senior Staff Retreat.
KSC members are scheduled to attend the Senior Leadership Retreat on Monday, August 15 at Ariel-Foundation Park.
Members of the Kenyon community can get in touch with Staff Council by visiting forms.kenyon.edu/askstaffcouncil or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that this is an actual email account (like a person's individual account with a login and password) that is shared by the KSC co-chairs and the communications subcommittee. All questions will be posted online.
The Events Subcommittee will be sending out a schedule of lunches and other events to campus. We hope that you join us this year for the fun, community-building events we’re planning.