Faculty question Benefits Committee make-up

Mike Stunson

Some faculty members feel they deserve more representation on the Benefits Committee, an advisory committee that focuses on benefits for WKU employees.

President Gary Ransdell had previously called for the replacement of the University Senate’s three faculty representatives on the benefits committee, associate journalism professor Mac McKerral said.

At last week’s senate meeting, members voted to keep associate history professor Patricia Minter and psychology professor Elizabeth Shoenfelt – the two representatives whose terms are not close to expiring – on the committee.

Ransdell said in a committee memo this week that he would honor Minter’s and Shoenfelt’s terms, but he’s asking for a replacement for Julie Shadoan, whose term expires in December.

The Benefits Committee is made up of 16 members. Three members are recommended by the University Senate, three are recommended by the Staff Council and three faculty members are appointed by Ransdell based on discipline – mathematics, business and public health, according to a committee memo from Ransdell.

The remaining seven spots are reserved for administrators, including Chief Financial Officer Jim Cummings and Tony Glisson, director of Human Resources, according to the memo.

One of those seven spots – manager of the Employee Wellness Program – is currently vacant, according to the memo.

Shoenfelt said she thinks there should be more faculty and staff members on the committee.

“For most issues, it won’t matter, but occasionally there is an issue every once in a while where we do not have enough representation,” Shoenfelt said.

Ransdell said he doesn’t think there should be a change in the ratio of faculty and staff members to administrators.

“Administrators’ jobs relate directly to the Benefits Committee,” Ransdell said. “Each of the administrators are accountable for a stable benefits portfolio.”

Ransdell said the faculty and staff members do not serve as big of a purpose on the Benefits Committee as administrators do.

“They have no specific accountability – they just bring insight and thoughts,” Ransdell said.

University Senate President Kelly Madole said the administration may view issues differently than the rest of the committee, so the numbers should be even.

“The administration may have different goals or thoughts as the faculty and staff do, so it may be a problem,” Madole said.

Shoenfelt hopes for more representation but knows that it’s Ransdell’s decision to alter the makeup of the committee.

“He knows we are not happy with the numbers, and it’s true – we are not,” Shoenfelt said. “He makes the decision, so it’s not really up to us.”

Though some members are unhappy with the numbers, Ransdell doesn’t foresee any changes being made.

“It is just perception that they aren’t even,” Ransdell said. “I personally think it is evenly balanced with good staff input.”