Golf course adds fee for faculty

By Diana McElfresh

Advisory Editor

University administrators recently raised the price of golf memberships for all staff members from no fee to $100.
The change comes as a way to increase efficiency, according to Tom Missel, interim vice president for student relations.
“Finding new revenue streams is one way the university can increase its operational efficiency and strengthen its financial foundation, so charging employees (faculty and staff) a nominal fee for golf course membership seemed like a reasonable idea,” Missel said.
George Lapennas, Ph.D., a retired professor of biology, said he thinks faculty and staff will suffer for the change.
“The people who will suffer the most from this new fee are those who make the least,” Lapennas said.
He noted that at least 36 faculty and staff members participate in a golf league, and said that that didn’t quantify every member of faculty and staff who has a golf membership.
However, Missel said the fee is still a considerable bargain.
“The $100 fee is almost a 75 percent discount compared to a non-employee, so it’s still a tremendous value,” he said.


2 thoughts on “Golf course adds fee for faculty

  • March 17, 2017 at 8:58 am

    [Here, below, is the full text of the email I sent to BV Advisory Editor Diana McElfresh in response to her inquiry as to who I knew who was upset about the University’s imposition of a $100 fee for always-previously-free memberships in the SBU Golf Course. I have added a few “notes added in proof,” which appear within {braces}.]

    I’m pleased that you’re {i.e., the BV} interested in this.

    I’m pretty sure it’s not just faculty who are getting charged, but all employees.

    I think the fee announcement was sent out by Erik Seastedt (Dir. of Human Resources). You might approach him to get the University’s perspective on the whole affair. (Among other things, ask him whether it’s true that $380 gets transferred to Athletics each year for each employee who obtains a golf course membership. You could also ask Steve Campbell [Assoc. Dir. of Athletics] the same question. Either/Both of them also ought to be able to tell you approx. how many employees typically obtain golf course memberships. This would give you an idea as to how big a chunk of the $3.5M budget cut SBU is attempting to achieve for 2017/2018 fiscal year will be contributed by golfing employees. Speculations I’ve heard are in the neighborhood of 1/2 of 1%, which would leave 99.5% of the total still needing to be cut elsewhere.)

    I’ve enclosed a list {omitted, for technical reasons, from this Comment to the BV} of everyone who participated in the SBU Employees Golf League last summer. Everyone who has just a 4-digit phone number [= an SBU extension] was then an employee. (Others are either retirees [e.g., myself], family members of employees, or random pickup individuals.) Tom Missel was the League organizer/”commissioner.” (Note: Not nearly all employee who are golf course members participate in the League. One example is Sharon Godfrey, Secy. to the Dean of Arts and Sciences.)

    I suggest that you not get your hopes very high that ANYONE will be willing to talk to you about this.

    The people who will suffer the most from this new fee are those who make the least (e.g., faculty holding the lowly Lecturer rank [such as Biology professors Jim Miller, Kevin Vogel and Steve Jodush] and low muckety-muck non-faculty employees [such as Sharon Godfrey and Mikhail Sudakov ]) are the ones who are most in danger of Institutional Wrath if they say something unpleasing.

    Better-compensated muckety-muck employees such as Dave Hilmey (Dean of Arts and Sciences) and Dan Donner (in Technology Services) can generally be counted on not to make publicly-perceptible waves.

    (Note: One of the clearest findings by the 1993/1994 Governance Task Force [Psychology Professor Dr. Chuck Walker, Chair] was that people around here are afraid to say what they think. Nothing has happened since 1994 to change that situation. Let me know if you’d like a copy of the GTF’s 1994 Final Report. {The GTF’s [never-acted-upon; e.g. the GTF’s recommendation that the Faculty Senate determine why it is held in such low esteem by the Faculty] Final Report is available somewhere on the Faculty Senate’s website. If you can’t find it, try asking the University’s Interim President, Interim Provost/VPAA , Faculty Senate Chair [Mary Rose Kubal], or Vice-Chair [Ann Tenglund].)

    ALSO: Another announced/contemplated cost-cutting measure is elimination of the traditional 10%-of-salary University contribution to TIAA/CREF retirement account for the first two years of Faculty and Administrator (aka “Contract Staff”) employment.

    ALSO: There are several money-related items on the Agenda for this Friday’s (St. Patrick’s Day) Faculty Senate meeting (2:30 PM, in the University Club room upstairs over Hickey Dining Hall). They are listed way at the end of the Agenda, under “Advisory Motions” and “Reports.” I encourage the BV to consider sending a reporter or two to the meeting (but be prepared for a looooooooong meeting, and for the possibility that they won’t even get to the last items on the Agenda.

    (NOTE that the Faculty- and Board-approved Faculty Status and Welfare Handbook [which is:

    1. incorporated into all Faculty contracts; and

    2. available among the online “Governing Documents of St. Bonaventure University”]

    –in its Article VIII, Sections B and C and Article IX, Section E–obligates the University to notify the Faculty/Faculty Senate of proposed changes affecting Faculty compensation sufficiently in advance of implementation that the Faculty Senate has a reasonable opportunity to formulate and submit its recommendations to the University.

    It doesn’t look to me as if the University has fulfilled this obligation regarding the already-announced changes in the golf course membership and the TIAA/CREF retirement benefits.

    Will the Faculty Senate have the gonads to stand up for the Faculty’s rights? … or will it cravenly cave in to the bosses like it did over Roth’s MLKJ Day dictate? Any bets??)

    Let me know if there’s anything further I might be able to contribute.



    George Lapennas
    Assoc. Prof. of Biology, Retired

  • March 24, 2017 at 6:23 pm


    In my previous Comment (above? below?) on Diana McElfresh’s story headlined “Golf course adds fee for faculty,” I addressed the fact that the terms of the “Faculty Status and Welfare Handbook”—one of the “Governing Documents of St. Bonaventure University” that have been adopted as University Policy by mutual agreement between the Faculty and the Board of Trustees, and which is incorporated into all Faculty contracts—requires that the Faculty Senate be informed of proposed changes in Faculty compensation, including non-salary benefits, sufficiently in advance of their contemplated implementation that:

    A. the Senate’s Compensation Committee, and often also its Finance Committee, have reasonable opportunity to consider said proposal/s and to formulate its/their recommendations to the Faculty Senate regarding them; and

    B. that the Faculty Senate has reasonable opportunity to formulate and submit to the University its advice regarding the proposal/s.

    Recent Faculty Senate Agendas and Minutes suggest that a process at-least-somewhat resembling this seems to be underway as pertains to changes in Faculty benefits for the coming Faculty contract year (i.e., the 2017/2018 Academic Year, which is defined [roughly] as 1 September 2017 through 31 August 2018).

    One may therefore hope that the mandated process will indeed be followed, and that the responsible Senate committees, and the Faculty Senate itself, will diligently perform their assigned functions concerning next year’s Faculty benefits (i.e., those that go into effect 1 September 2017).

    I now wish to point out that this Franciscan University’s Administration seems to consider that it has the legitimate authority to impose a new $100 fee for the imminent (we golfers hope!) spring/summer 2017 golf season.

    However, the imminent golf season occurs during the period governed by the Faculty contracts and benefits announcements that were offered by the University, and agreed to by Faculty, for the CURRENT Faculty contract year (i.e., [roughly] 1 September 2016 through 31 August 2017).

    (Unless the University is again “declaring” a state of “Financial Exigency” [as it secretly “declared” in December 1993; the Minutes of the relevant BOT meeting are still “classified”], in which case the University can pretty much do anything to anyone as it sees fit, …) THIS IS NOT LEGITIMATE.

    Presumably (investigations are ongoing), the statement of benefits that was distributed to Faculty for the 2016/2017 contract year (i.e., [roughly] 1 September 2016 through 31 August 2017) specified free golf course memberships for Faculty members (and for other full- and part-time employees?).

    IF so, then THAT is what Faculty members and the University agreed to when those contracts were offered and signed. … and THAT is what Faculty members are entitled to for the imminent golfing season.

    Is this Franciscan University going to renege on its agreement to that Faculty benefit in the midst of the current contract period?

    It remains to be seen whether the Faculty Senate will be able to discover any gonads regarding THIS matter (i.e., in contrast with its failure to do so regarding Interim President Roth’s illegitimate imposition of the MLKJ Day University Holiday for next January).

    Something relevant and interesting ought to transpire during the Senate’s 7 April 2017 meeting.

    (NOTE: Throughout this Comment I have focused upon *Faculty* contract rights. That is because non-Faculty employees [known as “Contract Staff” {aka “Administrators”} and “Hourly Staff”] do not have any rights. The terms of THEIR employment—whether with or without a “contract”—provide that this Franciscan University can pretty much do anything, any time, to THEM that it sees fit. I don’t approve, but that’s the way it is. [As Dr. Jeff Peterson used to say: “You can’t hurt someone by offering them a job. If they don’t like the terms, they don’t have to take the job.”])

    Thank you for your attention.



    George Lapennas
    Assoc. Prof. of Biology, Retired

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