December 5, 2003
1 p.m., Mary Dunn Conference Room
Attending: Kim Allen, Adrianne
Andrews, Adrian Beaulieu, Nancy Brady, Chris Carr Hill, Janice Cole,
Karen Hebert, Marti Hobbes, Susan Hollingsworth, Linda LaFlam, Karen
LeHouiller, Merrilyn Lewis, Janice Mason, Dianne Mikucki, Steve
Montiero, Janine Nye, Linda Rainville, Laura Rauscher, Patricia
Swan, Mike Washut, Tara Zidonik
Excused: Serena Harris, Laura Matta, Janice McDowell
Guests: Carol Christ, Sabrina Marsh, Sandy Bycenski, Lou Ann Krawzynski
I. November Staff Council meeting minutes, with a few minor
changes, were approved.
II. Committee Reports and Miscellaneous Business
Kim Allen of the Nominations & Elections (N&E) Committee
clarified when the outreach referred to in the N&E election
plan would occur and also why at-large representatives have a special
role in trying to get new representatives from within the areas
they currently represent.
Merrilyn was asked by Lianne Sullivan-Crowley if she thought January
would be a good month to have a staff forum about the budget. Guests
would be Ruth Constantine, Carol Christ, Lianne Sullivan-Crowley
and Rick Myers and the forum would likely lead with questions that
originated with the SAMS group. The Communication Committee will
be meeting Dec. 16 and will discuss the planning of the forum.
Merrilyn also updated the Council on the completion of purchasing
gifts for the young boy we agreed to sponsor through Hilltown Churches
The next full Staff Council meeting will be January 7.
The search for the new director of institutional diversity will
begin soon and Merrilyn asked Staff Council reps. that before the
next Staff Council meeting we consider some of the qualities we'd
like to see in the next person Smith gets for the job. The search
committee will be attending the next meeting to get our input.
III. President Carol
Christ, Special Guest
President Christ reiterated that she, along with administrators
and faculty, see staff as critical to the success of Smith College.
She then gave an overview of happenings in the academic program:
Faculty spent this semester reviewing faculty priorities keeping
in mind there will be a 50-percent turnover in faculty in the next
ten years. (A large number of faculty members will be retiring in
the next ten years since a large number of them were hired in the
1960s and 70s.) Also, the overall size of the faculty has grown
in recent years, so there needs to be a 10 percent reduction.
A faculty group was recently asked to look at priorities over a
ten-year period under three separate scenarios: one in which Smith
has MORE resources; one in which Smith has FEWER resources; and,
finally, one in which the college has the SAME level of resources.
The purpose of this group was to ask the question "What does
Smith want to be in ten years?" and to make recommendations
based on their answer. They're hoping a lot of the faculty who are
eligible will opt for the early retirement plan.
The plans for building a molecular science and engineering building
are under way. The actual construction, however, will not begin
until the college raises the money for it either through floating
bonds or fundraising.
In addition to reporting on the academic program, Christ commented
on a variety of other topics as follows:
The Board of Trustees just approved a plan for replacing low-income
housing in Northampton as structures are torn down for the new engineering
There will be a celebration this spring to mark the end of the capital
fundraising campaign. New fundraising efforts will focus on more
programmatic support, like financial aid.
The relationship with the town of Northampton continues to thrive.
There is a community advisory group that meets twice a year and
President Christ meets with the mayor every six weeks. Some of the
common goals identified include downtown cleanliness and sustaining
the downtown economic recovery.
President Christ said that the Dining Implementation Panel is perhaps
mis-named as their role is to make recommendations and that implementation
will be up to a community process.
The budget hearings were recently completed at which senior staff
made suggestions for reducing budget and operating costs in their
respective areas. Right now through the beginning of January, they're
developing a package of options to present to ACRA (Advisory Committee
on Resource Allocation), after which point they will be discussed
as a community.
President Christ said they're trying hard to protect jobs by maximizing
opportunities for internal mobility.
President Christ said they'd have a plan in place by the end of
this academic year. She worries that staff morale and stress are
prevalent and recognizes that at least some of this stems from uncertainty
about the future of jobs at Smith.
Staff Council representatives
followed President Christ's remarks with the following questions,
comments and suggestions:
Adrianne Andrews, who is the ombudsperson for the college, commented
that the College should emphasize the idea that they're "maximizing
Merrilyn Lewis commented that according to Kathy Zieja during remarks
she made at the last Staff Council meeting, there have been no drastic
cuts in dining services. Related to Merrilyn's comment, President
Christ said that faculty and staff must be reduced but that the
college is hoping to do it by moving people around and by attrition.
President Christ said that in October, the Board of Trustees approved
an increase in the engineering faculty from 5.5 FTE to 9.5 FTE and
that this increase will be accomplished by establishing a separate
line in the budget so resources won't be taken away from other academic
Chris Carr Hill asked President Christ what was happening with the
"Bright Ideas" program; i.e., she knew of several people
who submitted suggestions but then never heard any follow-up. Chris
suggested these ideas be better publicized.
Carr Hill also raised the issue of a 20-year Advancement employee
who had to leave the college when her campaign position ended because
it was a temporary position and as such it disqualified her from
applying for other jobs on campus -- this despite the fact that
before she took the campaign position, she had worked as a regular
employee of the college for a number of years. President Christ
said she was unaware there were a number of longtime employees in
this situation and that she would look into the policy.
Laura Rauscher had a few suggestions for keeping staff informed:
The College should address the question that is on the mind of many
staff members about why the College is raising money forbuildings
while at the same time it's cutting jobs.
When examining cost-cutting measures, Rauscher suggested that President
Christ, faculty and senior staff consider changes in pedagogical
methods? President Christ agreed there is room for improvement in
this area and remarked that currently the engineering program is
looking into new educational methods.
Sandy Bycenski commented that she thinks communication is more effective
between administration and staff in small groups vs. a campus-wide
Also, she was on the Smoking Committee and was wondering what the
status is for smoking receptacles and signage. President Christ
said she should check with Bill Brandt.
Janice Cole suggested there be better feedback by the administration
to the community about how successful the internal mobility program's
been. For example, even though two staff positions were eliminated
in the Ada Comstock office, those two persons were reassigned to
other departments, but that's not what people focus on.
Kim Allen asked President Christ to clarify the timeline for when
the budget decisions will be made for each department. President
Christ said all budget decisions would be made by the next board
meeting in May.
Sabrina Marsh expressed the frustration of the Activities Committee
in trying to get staff to participate in their organized activities.
She said it appears to them that low morale is keeping people from
participating in fun events that are actually designed to make them
feel better. Someone suggested community service events as an activity
that might generate interest and that perhaps we could use Activities
committee funds for that.
Merrilyn Lewis was also concerned about low morale among staff.
She said the Advancement office addresses this issue well, but she
knows other departments are not as good and she wonders if Carol
Christ can suggest to department heads that they elicit suggestions
from their staff, compile them in one place and share with the community.
Laura Rauscher suggested managers need some support to deal with
Jinny Mason commented that almost all of her department's staff
Lou Ann Krawzynski commented that the internal job mobility program
is great, particularly the effort to make job descriptionsmore general.
Steve Monteiro commented that Human Resources had offered supervisory
training opportunities, but that turnout was not good.
Someone else suggested that another way to broaden job descriptions
that require bachelor degrees is to add the phrase "... or
10 years experience."
Another idea suggested was to have internships in other departments.
Christine Carr Hill, who was at Smith during the 1990s voluntary
separation plan, said that at that time the CDO offered workshops.
Sandy Bycensksi was afraid that what happened to the Ada Comstock
office could happen again.
Patricia Swan commented that as far as employment database of skills
should be part of the performance review process and part of Human
Resources efforts to facilitate internal mobility. She wanted to
know if there has been any discussion about this idea among senior
staff or HR?
President Christ said the discussion has been mostly about internal
mobility in general terms, not about specific ways to achieve it.
Adrianne Andrews remarked that as ombudsperson she would make a
concerted outreach effort to department heads to facilitate discussions
for them and their staff. She said she would offer her services
in facilitating those discussions.
Merrilyn Lewis offered the Staff Council Web site as a forum for
any communications President Christ or the administration might
want to make.
Someone asked President Christ if there could be more general rules
about communication methods on campus, citing the proliferation
of e-mails and flyers across campus.
Sabrina Marsh asked Carol Christ if she would be willing to have
a regular column in the Council Chronicle. President Christ said
she'd be delighted to contribute a regular column.