Submitted Questions for May 4th Annual Meeting

What do you see as the PPFA role in the future of campus planning and governance? 

  • How do you view Professional Faculty versus Professional versus Non-Tenure Faculty? 
  • At the point of submitting this question, this issue isn't official yet, but some of us have heard that this year's salary adjustments will be handled this way: (1) classified and operational staff will receive a 3% cost of living increase across the board; (2) professional staff will be given cost of living and/or merit adjustments based on the decision of the university department for which they work.  This differs from previous years when the salary increases for all staff who are "university employees" (operational *and* professional staff) were handled the same.  What's the reason for this year having different policies for operational and professional staff?  Thank you. 
  • Why were three categories (faculty, professional, staff) created at the restructuring point and how do you see these categories in the future (5 years, 10 years)? 
  • I am a female employee of the College of nearly 10 years, yet I face sexism in my job on a regular basis.  One male in my department frequently refers to me as "sweetheart" or "dear," another coworker asked me to rank the men in my office by attractiveness, and I receive comments about my appearance that are not made about male colleagues.  Such actions frequently occur in the presence of, or are perpetuated by, my supervisor or director.  While none of these are especially egregious incidents - certainly not to the point that I feel a need to report them - they still have a decidedly negative impact on my time with W&M.  How do you recommend handling these situations in the moment, and how is William & Mary working to combat workplace sexism for the institution? 
  • Can there be training provided to those who become supervisors or are new to W&M as supervisors on the nuts and bolts of those responsibilities? (i.e. performance evaluations, time sheet approval, etc.) Something that is just the basics and NOT the supervisor’s institute. 
  • Counting questions:  Are the 10 days of sick leave counted only if they are taken consecutively?  What happens after you have used up your 80 hours (10 days) of sick leave that is given to us? Do we then use annual leave, FMLA, or are we able to use more sick leave that shows up as “negative hours" on our timesheet? (This example refers specifically to just normal sickness/doctor's appointment - not undergoing a surgery or maternity leave.)
  • I had interpreted the revised sick leave policy was to go into the negative after the provide 10 days in Banner were used up, unless 3 continuous days which then reverts to FMLA. Others interpreted that we should use annual leave when 10 sick days are exceeded. Clearly there is some confusion. Any clarification greatly appreciated.
  • FMLA issues: According to John Poma's email, we revert to the FMLA for any leave beyond the initial 10 days. As I understand it, the FMLA only applies to UNPAID leave. How is this policy even relevant if we are still eligible for paid leave after the 10 initial days of sick leave are taken?
  • If we revert to the FMLA after the 10 days leave, we are required to apply for leave 15 days in advance. How can we do this if we have an emergency?
  • With the previous policy, we were allowed to take sick leave for a sick child, etc., for beyond the 10 days. Now, unless the child or immediate family member has a severe illness, we cannot take leave to care for them without having to use annual leave, correct? 
  • Bigger picture: How can an employee's leave policy be changed if this was what was agreed upon when they were hired as part of their contract? 
  • Why aren't employees being given the option to revert to the traditional leave policy (for vested state employees with SL being earned every 2 weeks like annual leave) rather than having their sick leave policy completely changed? 
  • Has any consideration been given to the fact that this will force professionals to use more annual leave to cover what used to be viable sick leave? (E.g. I would rather burn a day of annual leave than pay 40 dollars to see my pediatrician for a note that says my child shouldn't go to preschool or the babysitter with a fever).
  • Has any thought been given to the possibility that this may lead to more overall sick days taken by staff? (e.g. This is terrible, but personally, I have already chosen to come to work despite being sick with a cold because I did not want to lose a sick day. If more people come into work when sick, then they are likely to spread viruses, etc. ..). 
  • Going back to the old system is bait & switch for a benefit that was advertised for this new Professional classification. With this change, W&M is taking away a committed fringe benefit from us. When jobs were reclassified and we were given the option to switch from the old state system to the new model and become ""Professional"" one of the benefits that came with it was the sick leave policy modeled after the faculty's sick leave. This benefit recognized us as the ""professionals"" we are, with a system that was mostly on the honor system. We did not have to track our sick leave hour by hour. If a person is sick, they stay home so as not to infect others. As professionals, our work is more independent and self-driven than that of operational employees. Calling out sick is not something done with the attitude of getting out of work, because the work is still there waiting for us when we get back. We are professionals, responsible for our own projects, and we deserve to be treated as such.  
  • Since PPF employees have not had an employee manual to follow, we have been instructed to use the Faculty manual for how to apply sick leave. This sick leave allows us to use this time for ourselves and family members under our care. As a mother of two children, that means I would be using sick leave to cover doctor's appointments and illnesses for three people and as such it's feasible that I could use up 10 days in a year. If I have used up ten days, and come December, need to take some sick leave for a doctor's appointment, the appointment would not qualify for FMLA. Do I then have to take vacation for the doctor's appointment? Even though as a Professional I was told I had 120 days of sick leave available to me? 
  • Classified/ operational employees not only have sick leave but they also have 4days of personal leave each year. If our sick leave is reduced to 10 days (with anything additional needing to qualify for FMLA) then we are actually worse off than our classified/operational coworkers." 
  • How do you advise me to respond to my supervisees who ask what they can do to increase their performance evaluation ranking from 'solid' to 'advanced' or 'exceptional'?  They are very interested in maximizing their merit raise, and willing to put in whatever effort it would take..  *Should* I encourage them to strive for the 'advanced' or 'exceptional' standards?  Or is it better to encourage them to remain in the 'solid' performance category? I include these questions in the Strategic Initiatives category as well as the HR category, assuming that there is a strategy to retain high performers.
  • Since arriving at W&M nearly two years ago, I have yet to see any specific administrative attention given to the challenges of parking for faculty and staff. The current situation is both cost prohibitive and ineffective in providing adequate parking solutions to W&M employees. 
  • Why is parking guaranteed, by way of reserved spaces, for some personnel but not others?
  • Why is the current solution with paid decals that do NOT guarantee parking availability viewed  as an acceptable situation to such an integral aspect of working at W&M? 
  • Why, during special events such as Muscarelle exhibits and business school events, are spaces reserved for guests while employees are asked to park on the other side of campus and walk or shuttle to their locations? 
  • I believe the most practical, and ethical, solution is to prioritize available parking for paid decal holders and take specific measures to ensure that parking is available for employees. If this is not possible, parking should be included, at no cost, as a benefit to employees and handled on a first come - first served basis to ensure equity and access.  
  • Though this issue seems trivial in comparison to many other challenges faced by the University, it is a way to positively, or negatively, influence the workflow and satisfaction of nearly all employees every day. I ask the administration to carefully consider this issue and explore alternative and more equitable parking solutions." 
  • As a Registered Design Professional (RDP), regulated by the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR), I would be interested in knowing more about professional liability coverage offered by the College / State as I perform my professional duties for the College. I would be happy to have this discussion offline if it adds no value to the group discussion.
  • I noticed there was not a PPF representative or even a PPF employee on the President's search committee. Why is that and how is the PPF positioning itself and engaging in advocacy during the search?
  • On page 4 of the Disability Policy: "Paid leave for family care and infant care or newly-adopted child care is available only when the professional is the person who primarily provides for the physical care of the family member, infant or newly-adopted child."  Is the guiding principle here that parenting is not an equally shared responsibility? How does W&M determine which parent is 'primarily responsible'?
  • The recently released Netflix show ""13 Reasons Why"" addresses young adult suicide, among other controversial themes. In response to the show, some grade school systems are banning discussion of the show entirely (Google search Canadian schools+13 Reasons Why), while other school systems are notifying parents about the show's existence and offering suicide-prevention resources. In a recent article from Inside Higher Ed (perhaps unrelated to the show, but published soon after the show aired) provided an anonymous essay about suicide from a higher ed perspective. Two points from the article discuss the stigma surrounding adult suicide, which can prevent people from seeking help and how help may not be readily available or well-known. https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2017/04/26/higher-ed-needs-destigmatize-suicide-essay#.WQDJ8c6r5Zw.mailto In light of the show and the subsequent IHE article, what can W&M do to provide suicide awareness and prevention resources for our faculty/staff? For example, faculty/staff know the steps to take when a student shows signs of contemplating suicide, but are there equivalent resources/steps available for when the person in question is a W&M faculty/staff?
  • When FLSA was being navigated last year, the position I supervise was reclassified to "operational" and eligible to earn overtime.  With 9 months into employment, my staff member has earned 172 overtime hours. When added with other leave, they earned more leave than I have in the same period. How is this equitable and what is being done to review these scenarios? And yes, we both work on a weekly basis to review the weeks hours and minimize overtime.
  • With many changes occurring as a result of FLSA, can you describe the impact to professional staff? Do any professional staff qualify for comp time/overtime?   Is it assumed that professional staff are supposed to work more than 40 hours or should this be the exception?  I see several colleagues that work more than 40 hours/week every week in order to get the job done.  How does the college capture excessive hours by professional staff?  (I placed this on the Ask HR section but i think there is overlap to get input from President/Provost about general expectations placed on Professional staff)
  • When W&M restructured 10 years ago, professionals and professional faculty were automatically moved to the "university employees" category; classified staff had the opportunity to either stay with the state's system or move to "university employees" as with the new category of Operational staff.   We were told by W&M administration that moving to "university employees" would mean consistently better annual cost-of-living increases.  (The state of Virginia had been only providing modest ones -- sometimes none, sometimes just 1% or 2%).  However, in the past 10 years, state employees have received higher cost-of-living raises *and* two years in which salaries were increased significantly based on the number of years of service (to offset the lean years).  So W&M staff who moved (or, as in the case of professionals, had not choice) to "university employees" have fared less well than those who stayed in the state system.  What's the actual difference in these various pay increases over the past 10 years....e.g., have classified staff averaged 15% (with the COLAs and two service adjustments), while university employees only 6%?  I realize that it's complicated with merit increases, but an average could be done.  Thank you.
  • When merit raises are awarded, could you describe how merit is assessed and by whom?  Does your direct supervisor decide how much you are awarded, or is merit assessed by the department chair based on your performance evaluation?  In the latter case, supervisors are not consistent in how they fill out performance evaluations.  Some supervisors have a negative leniency and do no score anything higher than a solid rating on each objective, while other supervisors have a positive leniency and score their employees an exceptional rating for every objective.  Will the inconsistencies in how supervisors fill out the performance evaluations affect how employees receive merit increases?  Does a solid performer receive a smaller merit increase than an exceptional performer?
  • Can you please talk about at which stage of the Professional Staff Performance Evaluation do we develop planning goals for the following year? Also, who initiates it and how? 
  • I am suffering though completion of my annual self-evaluation. It used to be a straightforward narrative of progress toward goals, accomplishments challenges etc. Now it's an opaque, user-unfriendly attempt to make one size fit all. Question: Can we go back to the old way?
  • I understand that Cornerstone is intended to improve the effectiveness of performance evaluations by making them more easily measurable and ensuring they are actually being done. However, after being at the College only a few years, I have gone through enough pay raise cycles to see that the overall system is flawed. When the work of lower level employees is "advanced" or even "exceptional", their supervisor might still give them "solid" ratings. After all, documentation is require to justify "exceptional". However, when the supervisor is reviewed, the work of those lower level employees casts a more positive light on the supervisor's performance evaluation and it's possible that the supervisor could get an "advanced" or "exceptional" rating. Will this incongruity be monitored with Cornerstone?