November 11, 2021
Dear Faculty and Staff,
I wanted to follow up on yesterday’s faculty and staff meeting to make sure everyone has all the information that I shared in my report. This letter contains important updates on:
- The FY23 budget
- Family and medical-leave benefits
- Health-care premiums
- A new FlexWork policy
- Additional paid time off
At their fall meeting on Oct. 22, the Finance Committee of the Board of Trustees had a preliminary discussion of the budget for the academic year 2022-23. That budget is, of course, still under development—to be discussed further in February and finalized in May. But we want you to know that the plan presented by Rich Madonna to the trustees includes a provision to restore, in part, the College’s contribution to the 403B beginning in July 2022. The plan also includes across-the-board raises starting in July 2022.
Family and Medical Leave
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to introduce Larry Lewellen, who has joined us as our new interim Vice President for Human Resources while we continue our search for a permanent leader. Larry stepped in on Nov. 1 after our previous interim had to leave, and he has already done a great deal in his first 10 days.
One area of focus has been the new Connecticut Paid Family & Medical Leave program that goes into effect Jan. 1, 2022. The State of Connecticut passed this act last year and began raising funds for it this year through a half-percent employee payroll deduction. As you may recall, here at Conn, we decided to increase employee compensation by one-half percent effective Jan. 1, 2021, so Conn faculty and staff would not experience this deduction.
The Connecticut Paid Family & Medical Leave program offers some notable benefits in addition to what the College already provides. At our next staff/faculty meeting, Larry will be sharing more information about those benefits and how to access them.
As we speak of benefits, please note that Conn’s Open Enrollment closes November 17. There is one more week to make changes to your packages. And in that context, I want to make sure you know that, while the cost of the healthcare programs has risen, the College has decided this year to absorb these increased costs, which take effect at the start of the calendar year, so that Conn faculty and staff health-care plans will see no increase in monthly premiums in 2022.
FlexWork at Conn
There is one final project I discussed at the meeting that is important to relay. It’s a change that reflects some of the important lessons we’ve all learned during this pandemic. In short, we have learned that the College can run effectively even when some employees are not on campus every day. We know that many staff have come to greatly value that kind of work flexibility, and we want to support this flexibility in the future. So, we are now working on a new approach—what we are calling “FlexWork at Conn.” The concept refers to both flexibility of place and flexibility of work schedule. There are many nuances to be worked out, but we believe it is important to shift our thinking to meet the demands of the moment. Our goal is to have a new FlexWork at Conn policy available to go into effect by February 2022.
To meet that goal, I have appointed a small committee to ensure that there is a team focused on giving careful consideration both to the principles and the procedures of the new policy, including careful attention to equity and community. Cheryl Banker has agreed to chair this committee. Larry Lewellen and Amy Dooling will serve as ex-officio members.
I want to add that FlexWork at Conn is part of a multi-year strategy to rebuild and modernize our human resources environment. The agenda and schedule are in formation, but they will include a redesigned performance evaluation system as well as greater opportunities for professional development. Our ultimate goal is to advance Conn’s reputation as the place to work in Southeastern Connecticut.
Additional Paid Time Off
In conclusion, I want to acknowledge the extraordinary work you have done during a very stressful semester. So, as we approach Thanksgiving, I will be authorizing additional paid vacation days for staff: first, on Nov. 24, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving; and second, from Jan. 3rd to 7th, following the scheduled winter break. I know there are some of you who cannot take those particular days, but, as before, you may work with your supervisors to find an appropriate alternate time. You will be receiving a letter from Larry Lewellen with more details shortly.
With my appreciation,