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CONWAY -- The University of Central Arkansas' board of trustees voted Friday to change the school's health-insurance program employees to a self-insured model starting in January.

The measure passed unanimously, and no faculty or staff members spoke against it.

Graham Gillis, associate vice president of human resources, said United Healthcare will administer the self-insured plan, which a study found would have saved UCA $1.3 million over the past 24 months had it been in effect.

Gillis said the plan will not increase rates or change benefits for employees in the coming year.

Under the new model, UCA can access aggregate data but not an individual's specific health-care information to see what is driving expenses. UCA will develop a comprehensive wellness program and a full-time wellness coordinator, according to the agenda for the board meeting.

Tech dating policy will cover all staff

RUSSELLVILLE -- Arkansas Tech University's board of trustees has voted to update the school's consensual-sex policy.

Under the expanded policy approved Thursday, an employee, "whether faculty or staff, should not develop a dating or sexual relationship with a student whenever the employee is in a 'position of authority,' real or perceived, over that student."

Such employees can include teachers, supervisors, resident assistants and academic advisers.

The updated policy says, "A supervisor, whether faculty or staff, should also not develop a dating or sexual relationship with an employee when the supervisor has a 'position of authority,' real or perceived, with respect to the employee."

Should such a relationship develop or already exist, the policy says the person with more authority must consult an appropriate supervisor immediately or risk disciplinary action.

"This will likely result in the removal of the employee from the supervisory or evaluative responsibility, or shift the individual out of being supervised or evaluated by someone with whom they have a consensual relationship," the policy says.

Arkansas Tech spokesman Sam Strasner said in an email Friday that "the key difference" in the policies is that the new one clearly applies to all university employees, not just faculty members. The updated one also "clarifies possible courses of action should such a relationship exist," he added.

Tech developing 2 degree programs

RUSSELLVILLE -- Arkansas Tech University is working to develop two new undergraduate degree programs.

Trustees on Thursday approved sending letters of intent to the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board announcing plans to create a Bachelor of Arts degree in game and interactive media design and a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental science.

A.J. Anglin, Arkansas Tech's interim vice president for academic affairs, wrote in a memorandum presented to the Arkansas Tech board of trustees that the game and interactive media design degree would "enable students to work in various entertainment fields, utilizing skills in animation, programming and web design."

In regard to the environmental science degree, Anglin wrote that it would "include courses in animal and plant taxonomy, geographic information systems and environmental assessment." The memorandum said the degree would prepare graduates for careers in both government and private industry.

The next step in the process will be for the Arkansas Tech Department of Art and the Arkansas Tech Department of Biological Sciences to continue program proposal preparations. Once those proposals are complete, they would require approval by faculty governance, trustees and the Higher Education Coordinating Board.

State Desk on 08/24/2015

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