Employee benefits changes the focus at Faculty Senate

University administrators and faculty members at the Faculty Senate meeting on Wednesday discussed the planned changes to employee benefits plans for 2015 and agreed to improve the lines of communication in light of concerns that have arisen from the process.

Information about the planned employee benefits changes, as well as details about informational and drop-in sessions, can be found on the Human Resources Management website. The final day of the open enrollment period is Friday, Nov. 14.

Changes to Northeastern’s health insurance plans are in response to new compliance standards set by the Affordable Care Act. The university had also considered changes to employees’ dental and life insurance plans, but chose to keep the current plans in place.

Stephen W. Director, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, noted that the health plan changes will save employees from experiencing abrupt increases in costs when changes to federal law go into effect in 2018. Still, he and Senate Agenda Committee chair Richard Daynard agreed that consultative process before the changes were made was inadequate.

“We will work together to do much better going forward,” Daynard said.

“It’s also important to keep in mind that benefits are not only a concern for faculty, but all the employees at Northeastern,” Director added. “We have a large number of staff and non-tenure-track faculty, and they are also affected by this.”

Some faculty members on the Senate and some in attendance raised concerns at the meeting about the opportunities for faculty input into the process. Meanwhile, J. Murray Gibson, founding dean of the College of Science, noted that this situation presents a learning opportunity that can help inform future communication and decisions on such university matters.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the Senate also unanimously passed two resolutions to change the names of departments within the Bouvé College of Health Sciences. The Department of Pharmacy Practice would be changed to the Department of Pharmacy and Health Systems Sciences, while the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology would be changed to the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.