Staff Council clarifies membership bylaws

Governance group also discusses potential survey on professional development

University of Colorado Staff Council
University of Colorado Staff Council

The University of Colorado Staff Council (UCSC) amended its bylaws to more accurately represent the current composition and processes of the organization during its monthly meeting Oct. 15 at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus.

The rules governing the council had not been revised since 2011, and council voted to clarify language, including membership references. The previous bylaws only recognized classified members, and so the wording was changed to specify both classified and university staff employees.

Council members also discussed whether it would be appropriate or feasible to make it mandatory in the bylaws that the Staff Council include a certain number of classified employees or professional research assistants (PRAs) in its membership.

The CU Anschutz staff council found that PRAs were “not covered” by any council and were “outliers,” said council member Jennifer Smith. The Anschutz council voted to include them in its membership; however, Boulder-affiliated PRAs are eligible to join that campus’s faculty council.

Because of the inconsistencies of council bylaws regarding membership across the varying campus councils, UCSC voted not to include language regarding PRAs in the bylaws.

Members also decided that the bylaws should not specify that Staff Council include a certain number of classified employees in its membership.

Phillip Petty, Denver campus, said it is important for classified employees to have a voice in the process and that the UCSC should have a balanced membership.

While other council members agreed, they also said that in some areas of the university, the total number of classified employees is dwindling and a relatively few of those have shown interest in joining campus councils. UCSC members agreed that it is more important to have active, engaged members than to satisfy a quota with a membership that is not fully committed to serving the university through the council.

“(Our bylaws) make the best attempt at equality across categories because we don’t have control” of who runs for council seats, Smith said.

“I don’t think we want to lock ourselves in to a specific number of certain members,” said Denise Thomas, council chair. “All the information (about issues) should be feeding into the campus councils and then feeding up to here, so whether you have a university staff representative or classified representative that sits on this council, all the concerns – whether they deal with classified or not – should be funneled to us so we can bring it up with administration or the regents. Our role is to represent all staff, whether they are classified or university staff.”

In other business:

  • Members of the Professional Development Committee will develop questions for a potential university-wide survey that would delve into the issue of staff development. Council members want to accurately measure what types of development opportunities are available and employee preferences surrounding learning methods.

Staff Council members have been researching the issue for several months but want real data to present their case to administration for more and consistent professional development.

“We feel that the best way to get the pulse on what currently exists for staff in their areas on the four campuses” is through a survey, said Joanna Iturbe, Boulder campus. “We know inconsistencies exist, but we need to know just what we are dealing with. It is drastically inconsistent, not just on the four campuses, but within buildings.”

Iturbe said the survey would measure numerous things: outside of Skillsoft, what is available for employees; how is professional development funded and does the employee have to pay for opportunities; what is the preferred method of professional development; must employees take personal time off or administrative leave; and do employees prefer night or weekend classes, online or in person.

Because the Board of Regents has expressed interest in understanding employment issues confronting university staff members, UCSC will ask the board to conduct the survey or offer assistance with the survey. In addition to the professional development questions, the committee said any survey could also include other issues of importance to the staff, such as a university-wide bullying policy and a more consistent tuition benefit across campuses.

“I would love for (the survey) to come from the regents (and be sent) to all staff on all four campuses. That would be how they can help us because we could mine that data and give them some deliverables,” Iturbe said.

Council will invite Kyle Hybl, regent chair, to council’s Nov. 19 meeting for an open dialogue on the proposed survey and other topics.

  • Council also has invited Tony DeCrosta, chief plan administrator for the University of Colorado Health and Welfare Trust, to the same meeting to discuss the Trust and university insurance policy offerings. Council members have been fielding questions from constituents concerning health policies and Trust processes and will pose those questions to DeCrosta.
  • Members also discussed “years of service” recognition for employees and the issues surrounding accurately counting the length of time each employee has worked for the university, including hours worked as student employees. Some constituents incorrectly think the “years of service” awards are connected to retirement or wages; however, the program strictly is for recognition.
  • The Service Excellence Awards Committee has finalized its plan to streamline the nominating process for the annual awards that are presented to one person from each campus and system administration exhibiting exemplary service to their university and home communities. The council committee will now develop an improved rubric with which to choose winners from the nominations received. A call for award nominations will begin in late November and awards will be handed out in April.