Staff Senate

BRIEF HISTORY OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN-DEARBORN
STAFF SENATE

"The Staff Senate embraces the mission of the University of Michigan-Dearborn, acknowledges the pivotal role of staff, and through its leadership in shaping university policy, promotes a supportive environment that assists staff members in achieving their potential."

CAMPUS GOVERNANCE COMMITTEE BEGAN THE PROCESS

As stated in a memorandum, dated August 19, 1992, a Campus Governance Committee was formed in early 1992. Its membership included Dave Cunningham, Kathy Herr, Cindy Kecskes, Elaine Greene, Leah Long, Kathy Morency, Valerie Murphy, Kay Peter, Susan Skramstad and Mary Tobin. Its mission was to create a formalized structure through which staff views might be expressed. Three focus groups of interested staff members met to discuss ways in which staff might achieve this representation. These meetings were followed by discussions at Staff Forums, and finally by the meeting of a working committee to brainstorm ways in which staff outcomes might be achieved. The Campus governance committed proposed that the new representative body be made up of 18 staff members, the same number as was being proposed for the Faculty Senate. The number was later increased to 19, as a result of adding one additional representative to represent Academic Affairs. This new body, called the Staff Senate, would represent staff and would act in an advisory capacity to the administration on non-academic matters.

MEMBERSHIP COMPOSITION

During the month of August, 1992, the staff was asked to consider two scenarios regarding the distribution of staff representation. According to the scenario selected, the membership of the Staff Senate was as follows:

Area Prof/Admin Office Tech/Service
TOTAL 11 6 2
Off of Chanc/Inst Advancement 1 1 0
Academic Affairs 2 1 0
Student Affairs 1 1 0
Business Affairs 1 1 0
Members At-Large 6 2 2

The Staff Senate was organized and began working as a body in 1993. Elections were held to fill the 19 positions. After the initial appointments, elected members of the Staff Senate were and are elected for a four-year. The first year, 1/4 of the membership was elected for a four-year term, 1/4 was elected for a three-year term. This was done to insure that only 1/4 of the total membership would be replaced in any one year.

In 2005 the University changed its job classification system. The Staff Senate adjusted the composition to reflect this change. The change began in 2005 and was completed in 2007.

Staff Senate Structure: (modified 8-18-05)

The membership of the Staff Senate shall be as follows:

  Professional/Managerial
Total 19
Central Administration (CA) 2
Business Affairs (BA) 2
Enrollment Management & Student Life (EMSL) 2
College of Arts Sciences & Letters (CASL) 3
College of Engineering & Computer Science (CECS) 1
College of Education, Health, and Human Services (CEHHS) 1
College of Business (COB) 1
Bargained-for Staff 1
At-Large 6

Ex-Officio

In November, 2007, at the request of the Chancellor, the Chancellor and Director of Human Resources were placed on the ballot for University Staff approval of a change to the By-laws adding them as Ex-Officio's of the Staff Senate. The change was approved by University Staff and the request formally added to the By-Laws.

STAFF COUNCIL

The Staff Senate was also created to represent the Staff Senate at the Campus Forum and to meet with the Campus Liaison. The council is made up of six or seven members of the Staff Senate, three of which are the Officers of the Senate (Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and Secretary), and remaining members are elected by the Staff Senate, making certain that all Areas are represented.

CHAIRPERSONS OF THE STAFF SENATE

Leah Long 1993 and 1994
Mary Tobin 1995-1997
David Cunningham 1998
Rayna Anderson 1999 to May 2000
Laura Drabczyk May 2000 - Dec 2005; August 18, 2009 to December, 2011
Bill Romej 2006
Sharon Lobdell 2007-August 18, 2008

STAFF SENATE HIGHLIGHTS

  • Recommended (and was implemented) an Emergency Child care Policy.
  • Secured a 2% equity increase for staff with annual salaries below $20,000 two different years.
  • Assisted in establishing a Performance Planning and Appraisal tool and continued Senate participation through the review process.
  • Participated with the development of a Staff Recognition and Rewards Program, which laid the groundwork for the current rewards program.
  • Conducted the Perceptions of the Work environment Survey two different times. Established goals and provided recommendations based on data from the survey.
  • Issued the Report of the Staff Senate Committee on Reengineering. Provided recommendations regarding communication, staffing, workload, training, technology and job classification.
  • Established several Staff Senate Committees at the Senate retreat each year:
    • Election Committee
    • Hospitality Committee
    • Communications Committee (standing committee)
    • Workplace Environment Committee (dissolved at end of 2007)
    • Budget Committee
    • Benefits Committee (joint committee with Faculty Senate representatives)
  • Enhanced communication between faculty and staff via the Campus forum.
  • Hold annual Senate Planning Retreats to establish new goals and objectives for coming year.
  • Established regular monthly meetings with administration.
  • Supported open communication through the Staff Senate newsletter and staff forums.
  • Refined strategies for recommending budget changes and provided annual budget recommendations to central administration.
  • Created publications to better inform staff of Senate activities: The Senator, and the Staff Senate Brochure.
  • Worked with Campus Safety to make the campus aware of safety issues.
  • Worked with administration to insure a $500 minimum base merit increase.
  • Met with the High Commission for Learning regarding UM-Dearborn self study.
  • Participated in the creation of the Staff Senate/Faculty Senate benefits committee.
  • Developed and submitted Employee Dependent Tuition differential proposal to the administration, which resulted in the Dependent Tuition Scholarship program.