Staff Council Minutes
April 29, 2004
1-2 p.m., Mary Maples Dunn Conference Room
(Submitted by Marti Hobbes, co-secretary, Approved May 13, 2004)
Attending: Kim Allen, Adrianne Andrews, Adrian Beaulieu, Nancy Brady, Janice Cole, Chris Carr Hill, Marti Hobbes, Susan Hollingsworth, Merrilyn Lewis, Jinny Mason, Laura Matta, Janice McDowell, Steve Monteiro, Linda Rainville, Laura Rauscher. Mike Washut
Excused: Karen Hebert, Karen LeHouiller, Tara Zidonik, Linda LaFlam, Diane Mikucki, Janine Nye, Patricia Swan
Guests: Lou Ann Krawczynski, Sandy Bycenski
I. FEEDBACK ON APRIL 1 LEADERSHIP TRAINING
Merrilyn handed out a summary of the April 1 training session and asked whether we should do a follow-up leadership training in June after the budget decisions were announced. Chris Carr Hill and others thought a follow up would be a good idea, but that we should wait until the fall.
II. COMMITTEE REPORTS
Nominations & Elections (N&E)
Kim Allen reported that there were fewer nominations than openings this election; consequently, everyone who was nominated, “won” a seat on Staff Council. She noted that there were several write-in candidates, including Kate Kilpatrick and Janet Spongberg.
Chris Carr Hill handed out the draft roster for the 2004-05 Staff Council, but noted that each member’s representative area is not indicated yet because of pending organizational changes on campus. After N&E determines the representative areas in the next month or two, Staff Council representatives will then be assigned to a representational area.
Before the May 13 crossover meeting, N&E will send a welcome e-mail to the new members. Elections for officers will not take place until June; however, at the crossover meeting on May 13, committee chairs will offer overviews of their respective committees to the new members so they have a better idea on which committee they want to serve.
At the May 13 meeting, N&E will hand out officer nominations forms to members as well as ask members to list availability for monthly staff council meetings.
Laura Rauscher suggested including an article on diversity and disabilities in the packet for new members.
Someone suggested that when we list the 2004-05 Staff Council roster in the upcoming Council Chronicle, we also indicate members’ departments and position titles.
At last meeting, they assessed their 2003-04 efforts and talked about ideas for next year. In addition, they discussed ways to recruit additional members, like having current members “bringing a buddy” to the meetings. Lou Ann noted that additional members are needed so that the significant amount of planning and coordination that goes into each activity isn’t shouldered by only a few.
Someone will ask Connie Dragon to join the activities committee.
Lou Ann will no longer be the co-chair for 2004-05, and it’s unclear whether Sabrina Marsh will continue as co-chair.
Personnel Policy Committee
Chair Sandy Bycenski pointed out that Human Resources (HR) is offering new retirement health benefits.
The “staff resources” list compiled by Karen Hebert is in its final stages of preparation. The committee plans to distribute it at a future forum or benefits fair as well as post it on the Staff Council Web site.
The Staff Council brochure re-designed by Tara Zidnik is done. Copies will given to HR (or College Relations) to distribute in new employee packets. In addition, it will be distributed as an insert with the upcoming Council Chronicle.
Citing the fact that many Staff Council members were not aware of an issue raised last winter by a staff member on the snow delay policy (because the Steering Committee referred the request directly to the Personnel Policy Committee), Nancy Brady and Marti Hobbes suggested the Steering Committee record and distribute its minutes as the other committees.
Merrilyn Lewis suggested instead that Steering Committee record in the minutes only those issues that don’t make it onto the agenda of the monthly Staff Council meeting.
The committee also discussed how well Staff Council -- and the college, in general -- disburses information to staff, and thought this might make a good topic for a community forum.
Ad Hoc Diversity
The committee will be losing Patricia Swan who’s leaving Smith to teach in Florida. Steve Monteiro said they’ve had no luck in contacting a prospective speaker yet.
Committee will meet next Wednesday.
III. OLD BUSINESS
Report on visit to Brown University
Janice McDowell, one of the Staff Council members who went to meet the Brown University version of Staff Council, said the group had a good time and felt warmly welcomed. She said the Brown group seemed to respect the experience of Staff Council and liked the way we do things.
Some of the issues for Brown University staff include community cohesiveness as half of the staff work away from the main campus, and limited parking.
It was noted that the membership of the Brown staff group includes a number of administrative staff, including the university’s vice president for administration.
Someone noted that the bylaws of Smith’s Staff Council were written in such a way as to specifically exclude senior staff membership since there was some concern that the Council could become simply a “mouthpiece” for the administration.
Many thought having Smith’s new director of institutional diversity join Staff Council would be a good idea, perhaps she/he could act a liaison, much the way Lianne Sullivan-Crowley works with our Personnel Policy Committee.
Brown University’s staff group was also impressed with the representative nature of Smith’s Staff Council, noting, in particular, our efforts to include all levels and areas of staff in our membership.
IV. NEW BUSINESS
April 14 Senior Staff Brown Bag Lunch
President Christ and Lianne Sullivan-Crowley said the details of the changes resulting from new budget had not yet been confirmed, but they did offer the following information:
Notification of layoffs will take place all at once in early June. At that time, affected employees may choose to leave the college immediately while still receiving their full severance.
The severance package to be offered is enhanced beyond what is indicated in the staff handbook.
Someone asked whether budget information will also be released in early June. The answer was “probably.”
Terminated staff will be offered personal and career counseling on and off campus.
The number of positions eliminated is fewer than what the administration originally expected.
They’re anticipating 10 to 12 banked positions to open up, and then, after June 30, banking of vacated positions will stop.
Human Resources will provide case managers to departments who will be losing positions. The case managers are Lianne Sullivan-Crowley, Patty Kimura, Kevin Kerwood, Carol bevan-Bogart and Candace Baer.
Administration is looking at alternative ways to handle endowment disbursements for operating expenses so in the future the college’s operating budget will not be so directly affected by changes in the stock market.
Someone asked why a staff person would want to stay on after he/she’s been notified of his/her June 30 termination date, and someone said because Smith continues to subsidize their health benefits as long as they’re employed at Smith; however, once the employee leaves Smith, they’ll no longer be covered by the college’s plan nor will the college subsidize the cost of the insurance. They will however be assured health insurance coverage through COBRA.
Merrilyn Lewis observed that the administration is working hard at being generous and humane about the layoff process.
Adrianne Andrews questioned whether the applications of internal candidates are automatically forwarded to the hiring department, and Janice McDowell said HR first examines the application to determine if the applicant qualifies and whether the applicant is in good standing.
Andrews also questioned whether performance evaluations have any bearing on whether an internal candidate’s application is forwarded to the hiring department. Janice said she believes it does.
HR has now set the policy that anyone whose position has been terminated can be considered an internal candidate for any openings for six months beyond his/her termination date.
SGA Staff Appreciation Day
Merrilyn noted the thoughtfulness of the Student Government Association in their recent celebration of Staff Appreciation Day.
V. NEXT MEETING
Next meeting, which will be devoted to orientation of new members, will take place from 12:15 to 1:45 p.m. in Neilson Library Browsing Room and will include lunch.