Wow – A lot has happened since the last post in April!
In May, the 2017-2018 Staff Council Representatives gave their end-of-year reports to President Fenves. Three of our committees, Flexible Work, Health and Wellness, and Professional Development, gave presentations at our meeting as well. We also took a few minutes to discuss some of the special projects we worked on outside of committee work, such as creating retirement certificates for employees and continuing our involvement in the Staff Luncheons with the President.
One of the things I’m most proud of this year is our huge increase in the amount of professional development money we’ve been able to distribute to staff this year. In the previous 3 years since our grant program was created, we awarded only 4 grants totaling about $800. In 2017-2018 we distributed over $17,000 to staff to attend workshops, conferences, and other professional development opportunities.
You can learn more about this program, the Staff Education Benefit, Flexible Work Arrangements, and the other committee work by watching the May 2018 meeting online.
In June, we had our annual retreat at the Thompson Conference Center. We use this time to review issues that have been brought to us in the last year, as well as issues the members themselves want to tackle, and brainstorm possible solutions. It is important to me that we use this time to set the tone for the year as well as set expectations. I believe Staff Council does its best work not when it demands administration take action “or else”, but when our members have conversations with leadership about the impacts their decisions might have on the UT community. It’s not easy for executives and senior leadership to know what problems are out there, so it’s our job to bring the issues to their attention and help them address them.
We also use the time at our retreat to get a general idea of the type of committee work we’ll be tackling. Emil Kresl from HR’s Organizational Effectiveness group was a great help at getting us to walk through the different aspects of project planning.
In July, a large part of our meeting focused on parking issues around main campus. Everyone likes to complain about parking, but few people want to take the time to find solutions. So, our membership spent part of the meeting brainstorming ideas on ways to improve parking and transportation issues around campus. We focused primarily on the parking permit wait list policy, which is what PTS uses to make decisions about how permits are distributed. But we also talked about other ideas, such as how to make the transportation from your parking space to your office easier, how to encourage alternate forms of transportation, and what kinds of fees might help offset increased costs associated with transportation.
The ideas we generated have been given to the newly formed “Parking and Transportation” committee for their review and further discussion. Once the committee comes up with action items, we’ll connect with PTS and see how we can collaborate.
A few months back we had several requests for someone to come talk with us about space allocation issues on campus and the related office moves, specifically HR’s move to UTA. This month we’re having Mike Carmagnola from Project Management and Construction Services (PMCS) as our guest speaker.
In September, we’ve asked a couple of people to talk about proposed policy changes that we think will affect large parts of campus and the way we do business. Dean Hansen from Facilities Services will talk about the Building Access policy changes (the current “key policy” was originally written in 1976 and it’s safe to say a few things have changed!) and Cam Beasley from the Information Security Office will talk about using multi-factor authentication to help keep our information secure.
In October we’re having Mary Knight give us an overview of the UT budget. Although we’ve had Mary present to our group several times, I feel like I still learn something new every time!
And in November we’ve asked Provost Maurie McInnis to come talk to us about her vision and take some questions from the audience.
I’m excited about what this year will bring for staff and I hope you’ll keep us informed about any issues you think we can help with. You can always submit issues or questions directly to the Chair of Staff Council or you can submit them anonymously through our Issues Process.
Here’s to some great work being done and a great school year too!
Jaime K Davis
2017-2019 UT Staff Council Chair