Staff Council Update: Celebrating 50 years of staff representation

May 6, 2013

The Boulder Campus Staff Council (BCSC) hosted a reunion of past and current members on April 18 to celebrate 50 years of service. Margaret Kneebone had the distinction of having the earliest service date, starting at CU in 1969 and beginning her service on Staff Council a few years later. She served on council one elected year and 26 additional years in a non-elected support role. Later in her career, she was honored as an honorary lifetime member of staff council.

What began as a celebration evolved into an educational session where current Staff Council members could learn from their predecessors’ experience.  In addition to Ms. Kneebone, 27 other past members attended the reunion where they shared numerous and inspiring experiences and memories. Some recounted memories of rallies held to expand staff rights, while others talked about Staff Council’s role in educating staff on how to contact legislators and advocate for themselves. Everyone reminisced about the pride they felt regarding the accomplishments during their time serving staff.

What type of person volunteers to serve on Staff Council?

This past year, Boulder Campus Staff Council officers were invited to participate in a research project regarding shared governance. As it turns out, many different types of employees chose to serve. The research showed that no defined length of service, type of occupation or gender predetermines a council member. Rather, the defining quality is desire to make a difference on the campus via researching and contributing ideas that can improve work life and streamline work processes. Staff Council members have different backgrounds, experiences and talents. What has brought them together is the common goal to use these talents to ensure the university continues to grow and evolve, and that staff positions also continue to grow and evolve.

Was it worth adding the role of council member on top of regular work duties?

The 28 past council members said “yes” over and over again as they shared their experiences and the bonds they formed with their fellow Staff Council members. As current members listened to the experiences, it felt like a family reunion where the older generations told of the good ‘old days, with a slight hint of hyperbole to get the next generation to wish they had been there. Staff Council is currently developing a pamphlet with a timeline of the first 50 years of accomplishments and hopes to have this ready for issue in the fall of 2013.

Highlights from the University of Colorado Staff Council’s first decade:

Staff Advisory Council’s (SAC) only statutory authority was as an advocacy group for staff. To effect change it needed to influence administration regarding the issue being discussed. Some early accomplishments involved:

  • updating the personnel manual;
  • reviewing benefits within an overall budget and recommending changes based upon staff surveys;
  • researching of compensation within comparable universities and advocating for increases to both administration and the legislature;
  • joining CU Presidential Search Committees;
  • serving as delegates within campus committees and further expanding the voice of staff, and;
  • representing staff at Board of Regent meetings.

SAC’s advocacy added another voice along with the student and faculty councils that were already in place. Staff were a critical, and until this time overlooked, voice.

In 1962, the Staff Advisory Council (SAC) was created and authorized by the Board of Regents to represent the staff of the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus. The primary purpose was to improve productivity by alleviating the frustrations due to cumbersome bureaucracy, gathering ideas for streamlining processes, eliminating inefficiencies and being the conduit for improved communication between the staff and administration. The goal was to improve morale by allowing staff to have a voice within the administration. The secondary purpose was to review the personnel manual and to recommend changes regarding general policies and benefits to the personnel department.

SAC stabilized through the 60s, transitioning from the founders to newly elected members, updating and enforcing bylaws in order to remain a strong advocacy group. Other campuses formed similar staff councils but ran their resolutions through the Boulder SAC until the Board of Regents formed the CU System Council in 1972. At that time the University of Colorado Denver, what is now the Anschutz Medical Campus and the University of Colorado Colorado Springs requested their staff councils become autonomous from the Boulder campus Advisory Council. The campus staff councils formed a committee to recommend guidelines and implementation and the result is the current system-wide organization. Each campus council, in addition to the System Council, elects three representatives to the University of Colorado Staff Council (UCSC). This 15-member council reports to the Board of Regents and works with the University of Colorado System’s Human Resources Department.

After 50 years, how does Boulder Campus Staff Council represent staff today?

  • By serving as a viable communication conduit between staff and administration. BCSC surveys provide representatives with valuable insights that are shared within campus ad hoc issue committees, Chancellor’s Executive Cabinet, State-wide Liaison Council and more. Because of the increased speed of business, there is now an increased need for quick but informed decision-making by administration. Throughout the year, BCSC reps that are serving as staff delegates on committees are asked to provide insight on how staff might react to a campus committee decision.
  • By staying informed on shared governance issues impacting the campus. Being informed takes research and training. As needed, speakers are invited to monthly meetings to keep the council up-to-speed. Council members are encouraged to broaden their perspective to the campus and System level, while representing their geographic area on campus.
  • By enhancing campus morale through hosting annual staff appreciation events such as the Fall Welcome, Winter Breakfast, Spring Luncheon and Years of Service recognition.
  • By hosting or lending support to events that promote the personal and professional development of staff such as the Bullying in the Workplace workshops, diversity events, Women in Leadership events, healthy workplace fairs and more.
  • By advocacy for issues that affect staff. This advocacy includes supporting the continuance of the University Benefits Advisory Board (UBAB), lobbying to improve the tuition benefit, stressing the importance of supervisor training and review to make sure evaluations are consistent with CU goals and advocating to allow Boulder campus employees to purchase equipment at auctions.
  • By writing articles to keep staff informed regarding what BCSC is working on to support them, and also articles to recognize the staff accomplishments.

You do not need to be elected to the Boulder Campus Staff Council to serve on our committees! Please check out our website if you are interested in our work. www.colorado.edu/staffcouncil or send an email to scouncil@colorado.edu

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