Board of Curators discuss mandated Title IX training, faculty retirement
“We’re trying to have the campuses do what’s best for their student population,” said Betsy Rodriguez, UM System vice president for human resource.
Apr. 09, 2015
The UM System Board of Curators discussed enforcement of student Title IX training and faculty retirement policies at its meeting at Missouri Science and Technology University April 9.
Betsy Rodriguez, UM System vice president for human resources, updated the curators on the past, present and future changes to Title IX policies aimed at making the UM System a national leader in addressing campus sexual assault.
Starting this summer, new undergraduate and graduate students on every UM System campus will be required to complete the Not Anymore sexual assault prevention training, which was introduced in February. The training will become a part of freshman orientation and student training over the summer.
The four campuses are considering ways to enforce the requirement, such as placing holds on student accounts if students do not complete the training.
Rodriguez said there is not a plan in place to train all current students at this time.
“The focus right now is on the new students, but that’s not to say we’re not going to try to get them all trained,” she said.
Rodriguez said administrators are working to gather data from student climate surveys on each campus. MU’s survey, which was sponsored by the Association of American Universities, is open to students from April 6-27. The data will be analyzed over the summer and a report will be presented in the fall, she said.
Enhancing campus safety and security for students is another focus of system-level administrators.
Rodriguez said they are trying to increase the number of confidential reporters, or employees who aren’t mandated reporters, available to students. All university faculty and staff, including student employees, are mandated reporters with the exception of some health care workers and counselors.
Campus-level administrators are also exploring options for apps to make available to students. A crisis and safety module was launched on March 2 on MU’s GoMizzou app, Rodriguez said. From the module, students can directly call 911 or get resources for different campus resources, including mental health, medical care, sexual assault and Title IX.
Rodriguez said the other system campuses are considering adapting MU’s app for their own use.
“We’re trying to have the campuses do what’s best for their student population, where their students are and what’s most effective for their students,” she said.
She summarized changes made since November 2014, including the hiring of full-time Title IX coordinators at MU and UM-Kansas City.
Mandatory faculty and staff training have also been implemented across campuses. She said 97 percent of MU employees have completed a course on harassment, and 95 percent of MU employees have completed a mandatory reporting training course.
Rodriguez said the UM System has also invested $2.2 million in Title IX efforts. MU is focusing its funds on improving education and prevention efforts through developing an outreach plan through the Counseling Center, as well as increasing funding to the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center, she said.
The system hopes to continue to enhance Title IX infrastructure by hiring more staff in the future, Rodriguez said. Administrators also hope to improve case management software that helps Title IX employees document investigations and develop reports to measure effectiveness of policies.
The curators unanimously passed all but two sections of an “umbrella” policy over retirement benefits.
The delegation of authority, outlined in sections two and six of the motion, will be postponed until the curators’ next meeting in June.
The new policy, presented by Rodriguez, includes the establishment of a committee on retirement planning. She said the committee would act in an advisory role to the board and UM System President Tim Wolfe. The creation of this committee comes after the board voted in February to disband a committee that worked directly with Wolfe.
The policy also delegates the power to revise the retirement policy to the president, Rodriguez said.
Under the new rule, major changes to system-wide retirement policies would be brought to the board for review, while minor ones and those required by changing law would simply be executed by Wolfe.
The board agreed that discrepancy over the delegation of authority is rooted in the lack of definitive, necessary language on what constitutes a major change to retirement policy.
Rodriguez apologized during the meeting for the lack of definitive language and said it was “definitely her intention” to keep the board informed on any substantive change to policy.
Rodriguez said that she and her team would write a more specific language regarding which policy changes would be brought to the board and which would be handled solely by Wolfe and present those revised sections at the board meeting in June.
Modifications to retirement policy are especially necessary now due to the growing pool of eligible retirees, Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said there were 1,500 employees eligible for retirement across the university system in 2005. By 2014, she said, that number had grown to 4,000. If the current rate of growth holds true, Rodriguez expects the population of eligible retirees to swell to 7,000 by 2019.
MU recently offered a voluntary separation plan to 261 faculty who are over the age of 62. Of the eligible faculty, 110 took the buyout and will receive a one-time payment equal 150 percent of their annual salary, capped at $200,000.
Rodriguez attributed the rapid growth of the retiree pool to the baby boomer generation aging out of the work force. The current pool of employees eligible for retirement across the UM System is now as large as the entire faculty population of MU, she said, calling the retiree pool the “fifth campus.”