Staff Advisory Committee
To provide critical feedback to the president on issues important to Union College staff.
Created in 2011 by President's Council at the recommendation of the Human Resources director, Jonathan Shields.
- Every year the Staff Advisory Committee will send out a survey to see which topics are most important to staff.
- The committee looks into the cost, effort and payoff for implementing the ideas and chooses a couple topics to focus on for the year.
- They create proposals on the topics and send to the college president who may take the proposal/s to President’s Council for feedback before making a decision.
- The Staff Advisory Committee meets once a month and sends out minutes to all staff.
- Twice a year the Staff Advisory Committee hosts an all-staff meeting to report on progress and get feedback for the future.
History of the Staff Advisory Committee
- Formation of the Staff Advisory Committee. Becky Daniel is elected chair and Terri Lair is elected scribe. Other members include: Cheri Blue, Donene Braithwaite, Annie Escobar, Ken Lehmann, Steve Nazario and Jonathan Rickard.
- Sent out first staff survey and set the agenda.
- All staff meetings: The majority of staff (48 of 69 responses) asked to meet 1-2 times a year. PC approved this request.
- Advanced training proposal: 16 out of 60 requests focused on masters/additional training or education for staff. The committee created a proposal that PC approved conceptually. —PC Minutes 08-06-12
- Staff Emeriti: Editing of policy to match faculty emeriti status with the addition of a special parking pass for staff emeriti. —PC Minutes 08-06-12
- Online payments: Staff Advisory emphasized the importance of creating an online payment system for enrollment and retention, praised President’s Council for having a committee working on the process and offered to help with research if needed.
- Online bulletin board: Pitched the idea of an online portal for lost & found, for sale items, transportation and public announcements to Student Services and Marketing Communications. They were highly in favor of the idea conceptually and said the process would take about six months to create after the new Web site launched and no additional costs. Also other agencies have online bulletin boards for purchase. Administration is loosely looking at options, but not committed to anything.
- Maternity leave: Taryn Rouse shared conflicting accounts of Union’s maternity policy given to women and updated government maternity laws requiring work place provides nursing room for breast feeding mothers. Requested we work to create an official statement of what is allowed and create a comfortable and safe place for breast feeding mothers. Efforts led by Donene Braithwaite searched for a suitable location for a nursing room. A temporary solution was found and approved by Student Services in the head RA’s office with Donene Braithwaite creating an “occupied” sign for mothers.
- Pay scale: In preliminary findings, Gary Bollinger shared that while faculty pay scale needs to be eventually higher to compete, staff pay is the same or better than other Lincoln similar colleges.
- Online time clock: The cost for an online managed time clock is prohibitive mainly because of the lack to individualize the system to the college’s unique needs. Found that the amount of effort, price and smaller payoff was not productive.
- Committee nominating process: The committee felt things were just getting started and so agreed to lengthen their terms to three year, two year, and one year rotating terms, but to eventually have just two year rotating terms. Becky will work with the next chair 2013-2014. Annie Escobar and Ken Lehman left the committee and were replaced (by staff survey nominations) with Lori Escobar and Pete Blankenship. *Ken Lehman attended only the first two meetings and then changed employment.
- Members include: Pete Blankenship, Cheri Blue, Donene Braithwaite, Lori Escobar, Terri Lair, Steve Nazario and Jonathan Rickard. Becky Daniel still chair and Lorie Escobar is elected scribe.
- Had first all staff meeting and used it to suggest some topics in the annual staff survey. Topics researched include:
- Centralized Advising: Administration feels this is not enough resources to make this centralized adivising posible at this time.
- Vacation time: This will need to be addressed in depth next school year.
- Staff Advisory Web site: Creation of the Staff Advisory Web site.
- Health insurance for part-time workers: To get health insurance for part-time workers, the college would have to negotiate with an insurance provider. The health insurance would not be the same as the NAD insurance plan for full time employees. It would have to vary depending on how much part-time workers are willing to pay each month. Staff survey sent out with mixed results. A suggestion for meeting with part-time staff next year to see what the majority wants to do.
- Office manager titles: A task force of Jonathan Shields (Human Resources), Debbie Forshee-Sweeney and Lorie Escobar are working on evaluating titles and writing up a proposal to take to Campus Connectors for approval and suggestions. Title changes would not affect pay scale.
- Office training (Excel, Outlook, etc.): Debbie Unterseher’s job description is to do technical training with Union College employees. Also, Campus Connectors is doing excellent professional training that is filling this need.
- Student management seminar: New Student Orientation Week will now have time for students to job train with their employers. There is still a need for student worker management training in the future.
- Staff Grievance Committee formed: members include Stan Hardt, Wilson Hardy, Lonnie Kreiter, Leah Schaber, Linda Skinner, Ric Spaulding, Greg Steiner and Amy Webb. First meeting was Dec. 5th. Greg Steiner was elected chair.
- Technology Committee formed and Staff Advisory was asked to nominate two staff to serve on the committee.
- Update on Advanced Training proposal: President’s Council voted to fund the program from any operational gains after remittance of debt. Also, PC have asked us to resubmit this request every November after seeing if there are operational gains from the previous year. Further update: Advancement discovered an Union College endowment fund that is unrestricted and lets President's Council allocate these funds year to year. PC approved the fund's use this year for staff advancement training—$2,362. There are some current funds from last year available, so Staff Advisory will distribute $3,000 in the coming year. PC hopes to allocate these funds every year in the fall, but there is no guarantee that it will go to staff training in the future. At this point, Staff Advisory will need to sumit their request every year for funds.
- Update on mothers' room: After mulitiple mothers' room location changes, a room on the 2nd floor of Administration Building is approved for permanent maternity use. Plant Services painted and Staff Advisory decorated. Also PC approved the creation for a "Congratulations on the new baby!" packet that contains the college's maternity policy, Blue Cross Blue Shield pregnancy resources, a temporary Handicap parking or Visitor parking spot for mothers in the last stage of pregnancy, and Advancement's "Someone at Union College in Lincoln, Neb. loves me" shirt.
- Paid Time Off vs Regular Sick Leave: Discussion of PTO vs current sick leave. PTO would allow for employees to use their short term sick time in whatever way necessary—when small children get sick, to care for sick elderly parents, unexpected snow days, etc. It would not increase the available sick time. Once paid time off was used, employees would be forced to take unpaid leave. When an employee left an institution, Union College would pay for the additional unused short term sick leave (an increase from 6 possible weeks to 7 possible weeks). Concern over employees using all of PTO and not planning for sick time or emergencies. Staff Advisory took this idea to the May 2013 all staff meeting for discussion before further movement. When voting whether to continue to research this topic or not, about 12 employees voted asking for further research on this option and to bring it up next year.