Annual Report 1998



Dan Brazo, ChairPhyllis Campbell, Vice-Chair (January - August)

Diane Schlatterbeck, Vice-Chair (September - December) Jan Blazi, Secretary

Submitted January 14, 1999

Revised March 11, 1999


The Notre Dame Staff Advisory council (SAC) was formed in February, 1996, and is empowered by the March 15, 1995, document that references Colloquium 2000, authorized by Rev. E. William Beauchamp, C.S.C., Executive Vice-President. SAC is a freely- elected council of non-exempt staff which represents staff concerns on various issues. The SAC is an advisory group that does not form policy, but acts as a two-way conduit of information between staff and administration. It is extremely important that campus staff is aware of this distinction.

During 1998, SAC held twelve regularly scheduled monthly meetings and one special meeting. In addition, several members of the SAC served on various ad hoc and standing committees, including: grievance procedures, tuition benefits, elections, parking, communications, women's issues, and executive. Several of these committees often met after work and on lunch hours. We wish to thank all those SAC members who served on these committees. The input generated by their additional effort was invaluable to the various ends of each committee.

Attendance of elected representatives at regular meetings averaged 70% during 1998 (range: 53%-90%) (Table 1). It is extremely important that each representative makes every effort to attend all meetings, because there is an inherent and important responsibility to the staff of each district that cannot be fulfilled without attending SAC meetings. One individual was present at all meetings in 1998: Jan Blazi. Congratulations to Jan, as she also served as secretary of SAC and was a member of several ad hoc committees.

SAC was educated on and discussed several major issues in 1998:

  1. Update on the reclassification project and compensation review.
  2. University grievance procedures.
  3. Sick leave/workman's compensation.
  4. Promotion/transfer process.
  5. Staff pension plan.
  6. Tuition benefit proposal.




Human Resources (HR) personnel provided continual updates of reclassification throughout the year. One of the most important issues discussed was a matrix-versus-merit compensation system. The University is currently operating under a matrix for all non-exempt employees whose salaries are less that 110% of market value. Although initially SAC preferred a movement to total merit compensation, it now appears that support for a total merit system has diminished somewhat because of difficulties with and apprehension of performance reviews. A compensation system based on a melding of the merit and matrix systems may be more desirable. Supervisors are being given extensive training by HR to aid with completion of performance reviews, which are critical to a merit compensation system. Any system employed will still be subject to budget constraints. HR has indicated that movement of staff salaries towards prescribed goals of 110% of market value are being made.

A long-standing issue to improve the University's grievance procedure was resolved in 1998 when the Human Resources Planning Group (HRPG) submitted a new complaint procedure. This action was taken after SAC submitted a proposal to HR in 1997. The new complaint procedure addresses issues of improved support, written documentation, time limits, greater involvement of HR, and step-wise progression through the procedure with appropriate communication. HR indicated that the establishment of a grievance committee (with some representation by non-exempt employees) was not included due to perceived difficulties with maintaining confidentiality, scheduling committee meetings and bureaucracy.

HR updated SAC at the end of 1998 and indicated that even with the new complaint procedure in place, few non-exempt employees were utilizing this program.

Several issues have emerged from non-exempt staff concerning the University's current sick leave and disability policies. Most notably is the discrepancy between short-term disability for non-exempt staff and short-term disability for faculty. Non-exempt staff have no short-term disability package, but may use their sick time for compensation during periods of less than six months, though the ceiling for accumulation of sick time is 720 hours (18 weeks=4.5 monthly). Use of accumulated sick time may compensate 100% of salary during illness, while short-term insurance plans only compensate approximately 60%-70% of one's salary. Long-term disability may be purchased by non-exempt staff, but usually does not become effective until the sixth month of absence. The SAC has suggested that HR increase education and training on this issue for non-exempt employees.

Non-exempt employees are eligible for disability retirement, which is part of the staff pension plan. An employee must have ten years of service and apply to the University for this benefit. Other sick leave issues discussed by SAC included increasing the level of accumulated hours within one's sick bank; compensation for unused sick hours at retirement; annual compensatory rewards for unused sick hours; build up "surplus" hours beyond the mandated ceiling for sick hours, which could be used by another individual; and payment of shift differential for sick hours. HR indicated payment of sick hours at retirement has some merit, but cases of fraudulent reporting of sick leave must first be resolved.

The University also has a self-funded workers' compensation program which is guided by Indiana laws to provide payment to employees injured on the job. Risk Management administrators explained that this law requires the University to pay 2/3 of an employee's salary or $448 per week, whichever is less. An individual may supplement this to 100% of salary through use of sick time or vacation time if available. The University is also guided by the 7-21 rule: one may not be paid for the first seven days, but the University will pick those up if the injury results in more than 21 days lost.

Several SAC members received comments from district non-exempt staff concerning the promotion/transfer process including fair consideration and lack of communication. HR representatives provided a detailed overview of how the promotion/transfer process works. It was noted that departments make the hiring decisions, and HR tries to assure that an employee receives appropriate consideration. Departments do not simply "leaf through" an individual's file, but rather request that information from HR. However, any employee may request to examine their individual personnel file. SAC believes HR needs to provide training to non-exempt staff on the promotion/transfer process and resume' writing.

After a query by several SAC members, an officer of the University provided detailed information on investments for the staff pension plan. The review included management of the plan, which is guided by the ERISA Act of 1974.

Investment objectives, return objectives, and allocation objectives were all discussed and included: preservation of assets purchasing power for long term; provision of beneficiary payment; competitive return at lowest risk possible; diversification for consistent returns; equities for long-term growth; flexibility; earn inflation +5% over long haul; outperform 8%; and exceed policies of passive indices.

The current market value of the staff pension plan is $64 million and has experienced exceptional growth in the last fifteen years. This strong performance played an important role in three pension issues: elimination of the employee contribution; increase of pension payout to retirees; and an enriched formula for non-exempt staff pension.


The ad hoc tuition committee met several times in the past 1.5 years and provided a proposal, which was approved by SAC to deliver to HR. The salient points of the enhanced tuition proposal are:

1. Increase from 90% to 95%the current tuition remission at Notre Dame.
2. Tuition reimbursement made available to regular employees who have been employed at least one year, as follows:
  A. Employees with 1-5 years of service: tuition only, not to exceed $1200/year for full-time employees and $600 a year for part-time employees.
  B. Employees with 6-10 years of service: tuition, books and lab fees, not to exceed $1200/year for full-time employees and $600/year for part-time employees.
  C. Employees with 10+ years of service: tuition, books, lab fees, and technology fees, not to exceed $1500/year for full-time employees and $750/year for part-time employees.


This proposal was thought to benefit the University in several ways, including: increased work production, reduction in turn over, job loyalty, better-run institution and equal opportunity. The ad hoc committee also suggested possible funding sources. HR reported that the University administration was positive about the proposal.


  • Women's Issues Committee was a very active ad hoc committee of SAC during 1998, with luncheons, evening reflection and support for the Women's Center. Please see Appendix A for a more detailed account of activities and goals.
  • Considerable time was spent throughout the year replacing district representatives of SAC as individuals were promoted or left the University. In addition, several replacements had to be made on ad hoc committees for similar reasons.
  • Shift differential was discussed on at least two separate occasions, and HR conducted a local survey for comparative purposes. It is apparent that ND shift differential rates ($0.40/hour) are somewhat low compared to local businesses.
  • SAC discussed ways to become more visible and communicate with staff. SAC may operate a booth at the staff appreciation picnic in June, 1999.
  • Updated parking information was provided by Security. The University's philosophy continues to include the center of campus as a walking area, with employee and student parking on outlying skirts. A new parking lot is being constructed near WNDU on the old golf course, and the cost of a parking garage is prohibitive.
  • The council was busy at the end of 1998 developing a new list of staff issues for the coming year. These issues include: calendar date vs. hire date; continual update of compensation review and performance review process; sick leave (various issues); expansion of funeral policy; enhancement of retiree benefits, increase in pension formula and unused benefit dollars; University mandated holidays to be considered as hours worked; and performance evaluation of supervisors by staff. This list is not completed nor prioritized. These tasks will be completed in 1999.

Obviously, the above are only brief sketches of SAC activities. For more detailed information, please see monthly minutes either through SAC district representatives, ND web page or the monthly staff newsletter.

Amendment of Minutes:

Minutes from the January 1998 meeting are amended as follows: for agenda item IV. Sick Leave Issues - second paragraph, fifth line - "...$6240" should read "...$4320." 


The SAC would like to thank: Bob Zerr, Kathy Stopczynski, Diane Steele, Gary Shumaker, Dave Prentkowski, Bobbie McMahon, Mike McCauslin, Scott Malpass, Phil Johnson, Linda Dunn, Chris Carlin and Lori Butchko for taking time from their busy schedules to provide information to SAC representatives. The continued support of the Department of Human Resources under the direction of Roger Mullins is greatly appreciated. Specifically, the tireless efforts and patience of HR liaisons Rich Nugent, Rita Winsor and Pam Zarazee to aid, educate and re-educate staff, continue to amaze SAC. Pam also receives an overall performance review of outstanding for her ability to record minutes, organize meetings and meeting sites, do countless mailings, and still remain cheerful when the heat is turned up. Her input allows all SAC member to participate fully at meetings. Input by other HR staff: Catherine Chavez, Cindy Ewing, Paul Henry, Doug Hemphill, Vivek Kumar, Sarah Misener, Lori Morgan, Denise Murphy and Jane Richards is also gratefully acknowledged.