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Emergency Preparedness, Health Insurance
Among Issues Discussed at Chancellor's Town Hall

By Ioana Patringenaru | Sept. 24, 2007

Chancellor Marye Anne Fox (Photo / Victor W. Chen)
Click here to watch a video of the
Sept. 17 Town Hall
(RealPlayer required).

Benefits, safety and child care were the focus of the first town hall meetings held by Chancellor Marye Anne Fox this academic year. Nearly 150 staff members gathered Sept. 17 at Eleanor Roosevelt College’s Great Hall to listen to Fox and ask questions.

The chancellor thanked them for their work. UCSD is the eighth best public university in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report, she said. “It’s because of what you do, not because of what I do, that we are able to get these rankings,” she added.

Fox also thanked staff members for contributing to the Campaign for UCSD, which recently reached its $1 billion fundraising goal. Staff and faculty contributed $15 million of that amount, she pointed out. “It shows that your heart is in this university,” she said.

Click here to learn more about
UCSDís emergency notification system.

Fox also told the audience that the campus will hold an emergency preparedness drill Oct. 16. The exercise will include a fictitious shooter on campus. The drill prompted one of the audience’s first questions. Tehseen Lazzouni, a program coordinator in the mechanical and aerospace engineering department, wanted to know what she should do that day. The exercise will be limited to a small area on the Health Sciences campus, Vice Chancellor Steven Relyea said. Everyone involved will be notified, Police Chief Orville King added.

Fox urged staff members to sing up for a service that will allow them to receive updates during emergencies on their cell phone, home phone, pager and e-mail. The service is open to staff, faculty, students, their parents and spouses. In addition, by the beginning of this academic year, the campus will be dotted with 12 towers equipped with a public announcement system. They will be able to broadcast instructions and warning signals during emergencies. The towers also are equipped with video surveillance cameras. “This is really a great addition to our campus,” Police Chief King said.

Town Hall Meeting (Photo / Victor W. Chen)
A staff member asks a question during the Sept. 17 town hall meeting at ERC's Great Hall.
Town Hall Meeting (Photo / Victor W. Chen)
Chancellor Fox listens as Interim Vice Chancellor Gary Matthews answers a question.

Meanwhile, many questions focused on benefits and pensions. Affordable health care is one of the main reasons employees choose to work at UCSD, said Carolan Buckmaster, a staff research associate at the Moores Cancer Center. But many are now facing increases in health care costs, she said. “Employees that I talk to can’t afford this,” Buckmaster added. “We’re going to lose people and it’s going to be hard to recruit people because of these expenses,” she said later.

Administrators have been pushing for adequate compensation for all employees, both with the Office of the President and the California legislature, Fox said. UCOP is working hard to negotiate with insurance providers to make sure that employees have options, she also said. Health care costs are increasing nationwide, she added. The chancellor also encouraged staff members to join the campus’ advocacy efforts targeting Sacramento. “We need real voices, real people, real stories,” added Associate Vice Chancellor Stacie Spector, who is spearheading these efforts.

Town Hall Meeting (Photo / Victor W. Chen)
A staff member asks a question about child care.

Employees also expressed concern about contributions to the UC Retirement Plan. UC employees haven’t contributed to the plan since the early 1990s. At that time, UCRP had more than enough money to support itself but the university was still paying retirees. Without contributions, it was only a matter of time before that surplus went away, officials said in the past. UC Regents planned to reinstate contributions starting July 2007. The state also would pitch in. But this year, the state didn’t set money aside to match employees’ contributions. Also this year, the fund’s investments did very well. The Regents decided to postpone contributions, Fox said.

“Keeping your pensions secure I think is the most important thing that the administration on this campus and at the Office of the President in Oakland can do,” she added. “You have to be confident that your pension will be available for you.” It is likely that contributions will have to start again sometime in the future, she added. Officials have said in the past that they hope pay raises will make up for the additional costs for employees. “It is certainly our goal that no one will ever take a pay cut,” Fox said Sept. 17.

Finally, another staff member expressed concerns about the cost of child care and the lack of child care spots on campus. Officials hope to add 25 to 50 spots within the next 12 to 18 months, Interim Vice Chancellor Gary Matthews said. The university also is looking at offering part-time child care, he said. Child care is key to creating an environment where staff members can flourish, Fox said.

High Patient Satisfaction Scores and Global Health Initiatives
Discussed at Chancellorís Town Hall Meeting at UCSD Medical Center

By Liz McDonald

About 100 people listened as Chancellor Marye Anne Fox opened the Town Hall meeting Friday at UCSD Medical Center, Hillcrest by talking about UCSD’s many recent achievements and honors. Patient satisfaction scores are at an all-time high. She spoke of the Power of Excellence as a way to respond to patients and applauded the team spirit and solid employee support that leads to successful patient care.

Some of the upcoming projects noted by Fox were the Sulpizio Family Cardiovascular Center, the alliance with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and the building of the Thornton Hospital bed tower which will provide 125 to 150 beds.

Fox and Vice Chancellor David Brenner talked about some global health initiatives, including a virtual degree program that could transform the delivery of education, and a joint project that would focus on new approaches and new vaccines for illnesses that are behind in development, such as tuberculosis and malaria.

In Hillcrest, the current Gildred Cancer Facility will be rebuilt as a center for HIV/AIDS research, bringing together UCSD’s top researchers from the various locations. Decisions about where other programs will be housed will be made in the next few months. Some other topics covered by administrative leaders attending the Town Hall meeting were health benefits, parking and transportation issues, environment sustainability, and retirement. Also Friday, a Town Hall meeting was held at Thornton Hospital.

Fox said the Town Hall meetings are an important communication tool to let staff know what is happening and to give them a chance to find out about issues that interest them. It gives administrative leaders an opportunity to sit and listen to people and hear their questions. It’s a way to say “you are part of the UCSD family and we’re concerned about you,” she said.

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