Attending: Janice Cole, Karen Hebert, Marti Hobbes, Susan Hollingsworth, Karen LeHouiller, Merrilyn Lewis, Jinny Mason, Laura Matta, Janice McDowell, Steve Montiero, Janine Nye, Patricia Swan, Mike Washut, Tara Zidonik
Excused: Kim Allen, Chris Carr Hill, Adrianne Andrews, Adrian Beaulieu, Nancy Brady, Serena Harris, Linda LaFlam, Dianne Mikucki, Linda Rainville, Laura Rauscher
Guests: Sabrina Marsh, Deb Shaver, Velma Garcia, Meg Averill, Fletcher Blanchard, Sandy Bycenski, Stacey Anasazi
I. Minutes of December 5 meeting were approved.
II. Search Committee for Director of Institutional Diversity, Special Guests
Fletcher Blanchard, acting director of institutional diversity and head of the search committee, proceeded to talk about the status of the search for a new director of institutional diversity and to describe the nature of the position. He hopes today to receive some feedback from Staff Council about qualities we think are important for anyone taking this position.
After distributing a copy of the job posting that appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education which describes the duties and qualifications of the position, Blanchard went on to say the scope of the position is big enough that it reaches to all the college, not just subgroups.
He pointed out in the job posting that there are few high hurdles for an applicant. That's because they're looking for a generalist -- someone with experience in leadership and negotiation. Not looking for a lawyer, not looking for a union negotiator, but for a generalist.
Patricia Swan asked Blanchard what has happened in the position in the last year, and how that may have affected the qualities they're looking for in an applicant.
Blanchard said nothing has changed with regard to formal duties. But they are looking for someone with relationship-building skills.
Blanchard has been involved in the institutional diversity position on and off for several years, so he is in a good position to comment on the evolution of the position.
He said the college came late to affirmative action, but has advanced it well once it took up that purpose. Since it's a private college and didn't rely heavily on Federal grants, it was exempt from affirmative action requirements.
During President Mary Dunn's tenure, however, she embraced a more modern, broader interpretation of affirmative action to include diversity goals.
Someone asked Blanchard if the committee was looking only for individuals of color to fill the position. Blanchard said no because a) it would be illegal to restrict the search on the basis of race and b) the committee is looking for a broad range of candidates.
Merrilyn Lewis commented that in addition to looking for someone with vision, she'd like to see someone who can foster tolerance of different opinions and can enable civil discourse among members of the community.
Jinny Mason said she'd like to see the position filled by someone with an awareness of class issues.
Other suggestions by Staff Council reps, for desirable qualities in a prospective applicant would be a sense of humor and a sense of ease around a wide range of people. Sandy Bycenski said Adrianne Andrews has the kind of personality that would be good for the position.
Merrilyn Lewis asked what the timetable is for filling the position.
Blanchard replied that ideally they'd like the individual in place by July 1. The committee has not set a deadline for either submitting applications or for filling the position, and since there are students on the committee, the process will be adjusted to accommodate their schedules. Student involvement also offers its own timeframe with the end of the semester.
Blanchard said the search committee has hired a private search firm to help recruit prospective applicants. The search firm helps with 1) "sourcing," or identifying qualified candidates; 2) following up after the application is received; and 3) recruitment.
Patricia Swan asked what qualities the search committee has come up with so far. Blanchard said they want someone who does everything; i.e., someone who can be "a resource, a pusher and a puller."
Janice McDowell asked if the Board of Trustees has to approve the search committee's recommendation.
Blanchard said "yes, and no." "Yes," to the extent that there is a former trustee (Phoebe Haddon) who is on the search committee; otherwise, "no," not explicitly.
Karen LeHouiller asked if the position is in high demand? Blanchard said he noticed in the Chronicle of Higher Education one other institution that was looking for a director of institutional diversity, the University of Arkansas. Blanchard expects the Smith position to be more attractive to candidates because the position reports directly to the president.
Blanchard asked Staff Council to pass on any suggestions to the Search committee.
III. Committee Reports
Committee will move forward with staff casino night in March.
Discussion re activities organizing volunteer activities with staff. Merrilyn wondered if having the college do a corporate volunteer day would improve participation. Sabrina said it's important not to put staff in awkward positions.
Someone said key to improved participation may be the idea of "critical mass"; i.e, sponsoring a bus to Boston for Jimmy Fund walk, a series of events in a week; condensing the time frame.
Marti commented that the Chapel has already established a community-wide volunteer day/week in the spring, the first of which took place last year, and that Staff Council should offer to work with the Chapel to organize the staff element of the program. Marti offered to contact Jennifer Walters and the SOS office about this and will discuss with Sabrina Marsh subsequently as something Activities committee can help out with.
Looks like Jan. 30 will NOT be a good time for a staff forum about the budget. Merrilyn will let the committee know for sure later this week.
Karen Hebert said she is pulling together an information sheet listing all the resources available on campus to staff.
Ad Hoc Diversity Committee:
Will meet January 12 at campus center and "get the ball rolling." Be sure to ask Nanci Young if she'd like to participate.
Ad Hoc Parade Float Committee:
The group met before vacation -- still looking for engineering students to help out. Kara Callahan of engineering and Gretchen Schneider of the art dept. have volunteered to help out. Funding will come from a variety of sources, including $300 from College Relations, $500 from President Christ; Human Resources and Staff Council. Next meeting for parade float is Jan. 29. Float will have a re-enactment of 1st basketball game and with the theme being "Northampton and Smith: On the Same Team for 129 Years."
IV. Old Business
Merrilyn Lewis said Staff Council would NOT be inviting union presidents to the Staff Council meetings because it could put both the Council and the unions in an awkward position and, thereby, jeopardize the existence of Staff Council. (Could be construed as Staff Council trying to get involved in labor negotiations.)
Merrilyn passed along the thanks of the Winter Gifts Program and S.O.S. for the recent participation of Staff Council.
Merrilyn heard from two other universities that had staff representative bodies comparable to Staff Council: Brown University in Rhode Island and Southwestern University in Texas.
In general, Merrilyn said there are very few organizations like ours at other academic institutions.
V. New Business
Merrilyn asked if the next Staff Council meeting could be devoted solely to Staff Council business instead of hosting a guest.
One of the Staff Council reps. asked a question on behalf of one of his/her constituents: What is happening to Smith's staff training program? The answer is that Smith is shifting to a Five College staff development program.
Stacey reminded everyone that ITS continues to have a number of trainings for staff.
Mike Washut reminded Staff Council that ITS has a number of functioning "retired" Smith computers that are available for donation to charitable organizations. Staff who are aware of organizations that could benefit from this should contact Cheryl Donaldson.