Staff Advisory Council report

April 26, 2000

Judith Zwolak

Following is a report on some of the issues discussed at the Staff Advisory Council meeting in April.

A presidential visit.
President Scott Cowen made his semi-annual trip to the Staff Advisory Council and reported on the status of strategic planning. In areas that concern staff, he mentioned the university's .25 percent increase in contributions to the staff retirement plan. He reiterated Tulane's commitment to providing a merit-raise pool for faculty and staff of at least $1.5 million each year for the next five years.

"The commitment is for at least five years, perhaps even longer and maybe even at higher levels," Cowen said. "It depends on our financial situation."

He also said the university will revisit the issue of providing benefits for same-sex domestic partners of faculty and staff members. Yvette Jones, senior vice president for planning and administration, also attended the meeting. She said the guidelines for distributing future merit-pool funds may change over time.

To be eligible for the next fiscal year's funds, staff members must have scored higher than a "3" on their performance evaluation and rank in salary in the bottom two quartiles of their salary grade. Future distributions may focus on either salary position or performance, Jones says.

Cowen said he was surprised to hear that some employees were unaware of their yearly raises until they received their July paychecks. "People need to know in advance what their salary increase is," he said.

A reason to smile.
A dental plan will be included in the health-insurance offerings for the next fiscal year, said Evola Bates, vice president of human resources. The plan, administered by MetLife, is voluntary with no employer contribution. Employees can pay the monthly premiums, which range from $20 for individual coverage to $73 for family coverage, through pre-tax payroll deduction.

Preventive services are covered at 100 percent. Other services are covered at 70 percent the first year of membership and 80 percent during subsequent years. The plan, which covers services provided by a network of providers, has an annual deductible of $50. Human resources will no longer offer the DentaMax plan after July 1.
A reason to frown.
Premiums will increase for both United Healthcare and the Tulane Preferred Health Plan in the next fiscal year. For both plans, employee premiums will increase from $10 to $20 each month for individual coverage. The premium for family coverage on the Tulane plan will remain $186 per month. Family coverage on the United Healthcare plan, however, will increase from $187 to $286 per month during the next fiscal year.

Other changes include an increase in the pharmacy copayments for both plans. Human resources will provide more information on the changes during the health-insurance open enrollment period, which runs from late May through late June.

As of May 1, human resources will no longer provide auto and homeowners insurance through the Liberty Mutual Group. The Tulane/Loyola Federal Credit Union, however, will provide to its members the same services previously available through human resources.

Workforce development--Frank Currie, director of employee relations and staff development, said human resources' proposal to use funds from the Lallage Feazel Wall donation for a staff professional development program is pending approval. The proposal, to develop a Tulane Center for Workforce Effectiveness, will use trainers from University College to instruct staff on topics ranging from telephone etiquette to computer skills.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000