8 October 2008

Staff Advisory Council
Meeting Minutes for 8 Oct 2008

Members Present: Beth Baksi, Betsy Durning, Lois Falzone, Val Gibson, Lynn Grady, Tami Gura, Anna Headley, Pat Hearty, Mary Marissen, Terry McGrath, Brad Rumsey, Mimi Weiler
Members absent: Mary Cooper, Joe Deasey, Brady Gonsalves
Human Resources represented by: Melanie Young
Equal Opportunity represented by: none

SAC housekeeping

  • We looked over bylaws since it is early in the year with new people.
  • Things we haven't been doing great at:
    • Meeting with the college president once a year (unless All-Staff meetings are counted.)
    • Getting agenda to members 3 days before meeting
    • Getting minutes out within one week.

Constituent communication:

  • All members present feel that email is a good way to communicate with their constituents.
  • If you need to know which departments you represent, check the SAC website.
  • Mimi can generate an email list for your circle; Cathy Wilson sends out periodic updates which you should use to keep your list current.
  • All-staff meetings are also a way to communicate. There do not seem to be enough agenda items to warrant a meeting this semester.
  • Faculty/staff list is probably the best way to distribute minutes.


  • We will consider making a new member orientation checklist page on the SAC website.
  • Serving on SAC is part of your job - no one should need to work extra hours in order to incorporate SAC duties into their schedule.

Charitable giving through payroll deduction - update from Melanie and Lois:


  • People on campus were dissatisfied with United Way so last year a different vendor, the Center for Responsible Funding, was used.
  • People wanted more choice in who to give to - but 98% of givers chose places that United Way includes.
  • CRF was not administratively up to the task of serving our community, although they are working on improvements.
  • United Way very much wants to come back and would like a seal of approval from SAC and AAC. To earn this, they want to come to campus and inform us of ways they have addressed issues which have tarnished their image in the past.
  • SAC was asked if they would endorse charitable giving through the United Way and if they thought it a good idea for representatives from the United Way to visit campus this fall if an "All Staff" meeting was planned.
  • Decisions: SAC endorses charitable giving and approves using United Way this year. SAC will not pursue a visit from UW representatives this semester.
  • More information about changes in accountability will be included in a forthcoming article in the Gathering.

Visit from Ellen Magenheim - coordinator of Middle States re-accreditation


  • Middle States is one of 6 regional non-profit accreditation industries. Chartered by Fed Gov't to make sure educational institutions are meeting (14) standards of excellence. Need accreditation for students to get federal financial aid.


  • Odds of us not be accredited again are pretty small. So our focus is to integrate it with planning & make it useful for the college.
  • We prepare by writing a self-study. In last stages of pulling this together.
  • Then we are visited by a whole team of people. Chair: Diana Chapman-Walsh plus 7 other people from different colleges and universities.
  • Chair will visit campus on Nov 14th, a Friday.
  • March 29 - Apr 1 will be the team visit. Team may send a list of questions to the self-study committee beforehand. They will talk to lots of people, in both arranged and spontaneous contexts, to make sure the self-study is an accurate reflection of reality.
  • Team chair will make an oral presentation to president and committee. Team writes a report -- which our committee receives and can respond to -- to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, who makes determination of our accreditation.

Reason for Ellen's SAC visit:

  • Middle States does not have any accreditation criteria based on staff. Most schools do not incorporate staff into their self-study but we did as there is growing consensus that staff is more essential to educational institutions than has been acknowledged in the past.
  • SAC will be invited to meet with Diana Walsh on Nov 14th. SAC may also meet with the larger team during their spring visit. The accreditation people will likely meet with other staff members as well, but Ellen thinks SAC is a good core group to call on. These meetings would be for them to ask us questions and get a sense of how staff members feel; no preparation required.
  • Draft of self-study should be available for college community to look at in early November. Everyone is welcomed and encouraged to read the study and give feedback.

Flu shots - a question from a staff member:

  • A SAC rep received a complaint about hours for flu shots not including weekend or evening hours.
  • SAC members agree that when the health center offers services to staff it is a courtesy, not a part of their specific mission, which is to serve student health needs. That is why we have full health benefits for staff.
  • Flu shots should be easily available from your doctor, and probably cheaper. May also be available at some pharmacies or superstores.

Brief budget update from Melanie due to nation's economic crisis:

  • Endowment has declined to 1.3 from 1.4 billion.
  • This is not so bad; we are doing well because of our portfolio diversification.
  • No problems with short-term cash because last year we made a wise change of how we invest cash.
  • Situation is worrisome, but we are not in any dire situation. There will be no problems with meeting payroll or benefits.

Exempt employees and pay frequency - a question from a staff member:

  • A SAC rep received a question about whether exempt employees can change to a biweekly pay schedule rather than just once a month.
  • Melanie tells us that exempt employees are paid ahead for hours they haven't worked yet, so putting them on a biweekly pay schedule would actually cause a lag in pay
  • Also unclear whether it would be possible, system-wise.
  • Please feel free to talk to Melanie about any questions and she can help you figure out your specific situation.

Winter Gathering:

  • HR has made some changes and hopefully they will cause the event to go more smoothly.

Parking resolution - carry-over from last year's agenda:

  • If you can't find a spot in your regular lot, park somewhere else. You can notify public safety by calling and telling them you had to park in a different lot.

Complaints about Labor Day/Memorial Day:

  • Many staff are unhappy about not getting paid holidays on these days
  • Since students are here and classes are in session, it is impossible to give the holiday, as staff members are essential to institutional operation.
  • A floating holiday option, like MLK Day, is very difficult to monitor and HR is reluctant to use that option.
  • Melanie agreed to think more about this, but acknowledges inherent problems with any solutions discussed to date.

Remaining SAC meetings this semester: November 19th, December 10th, January 21st