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10 September 2008

Staff Advisory Council
Meeting Minutes for September 10, 2008

The Staff Advisory Council (SAC) of Swarthmore College was called to order by Moderator Mary Marissen on September 10, 2008 at 9:30 am.
Staff members present were Pat Hearty, Mary Marissen, Anna Headley, Lynn Grady, Joe Deasey, Brady Gonsalves, Terry McGrath, Mimi Weiler, Lois Falzone, Cathy Pescatore, Betsey Durning, Tami Gura, Melanie Young, and Beth Baksi. It was noted that the both South and Magnolia Circles needed representatives.

College Life Insurance Benefit discussion:

  • Question arose during the summer about the level of life insurance provided by the College for its employees
  • The tiered coverage system was questioned, especially the lower coverage beginning at age 60, due to demands of the "sandwich generation"
  • A College buy-up option for employees who desire more coverage was discussed, but that is not feasible as typically few employees take advantage of this option and it raises the cost of insurance for everyone in the benefit pool
  • Melanie Young said that she will investigate the age brackets that the College uses to see if they should be updated
  • Employees desiring additional insurance should shop for it independently. Marty Cormican suggests the use of "Intelliquote" see:

August meeting with Presidential search committee and Storbeck / Pimentel group:

  • SAC and AAC (Administrative Advisory Council) met jointly with representatives of the Presidential search committee and the Storbeck / Pimentel group, the firm hired to facilitate our Presidential search.
  • Many presidential candidates will be recruited from high-level positions at other institutions, and will not want their names released.
  • Therefore, there will not be open campus meetings as there have been for many other campus positions.
  • There will likely be a selected group to represent non-search committee campus members in meeting each finalist.
  • SAC appreciated the committee seeking staff input.
  • Some SAC members felt that AAC set the tone of the meeting
  • The search committee is seeking input and nominations from College employees.
  • Please give input through the Search Committee's website:
  • Search committee's website also accessible from the main page.

Employee Service Awards Update:

  • Melanie Young announced that the annual employee services awards will be coming up in December at the annual Holiday Gathering.
  • Employees recognized for service will be provided a catalog of possible gifts from which to choose.
  • Cash or gift certificate awards will not be an option as these would need to be taxed as income.

Computer Loan Program Updated:

  • The loan program has been completely re-vamped in a way that is more beneficial to employees
  • HR has provided an arrangement with Best Buy which gives employees much more flexibility as to the type of computer to purchase and has also negotiated a very low interest rate for the loans.
  • See all details on the HR web pages

Long Range Planning Committee Update:

  • Process will likely slow down due to the Presidential search and groups needing more time to prepare their contributions to the plan
  • Recommendations from the Staff group would remain the same; budget flexibility for benefits, recruitment improvements, and stronger diversity and staff development improvements.

Staff Evaluations discussed:

  • There is no College standard procedure for evaluations
  • Melanie stated that annual evaluations are a poor model and that performance should be a regular talking point between employees and supervisors.
  • Melanie said that performance evaluation success depends on routine and measurements
  • SAC members should solicit feedback from circles on whether SAC should recommend formation of a committee, or more workshops (mandatory?) for supervisors.
  • If you have questions or complaints about how your performance evaluations are carried out, but aren't comfortable telling your supervisor, Melanie welcomes you to talk to her.

Meeting Guests:

Susan Smythe, ADA Compliance Manager, and Jinny Schiffer, Environmental, Health, & Safety Officer

  • Susan and Jinny talked to the group about emergency preparedness, gave some background about their recent work in bringing the College to full ADA compliance
  • They are eager to begin working on fire drills and evacuation plans.
  • We discussed the possibility of building monitors, who would be responsible for determining that employees had evacuated a building in the case of an emergency (head counter)
  • Academic buildings pose a problem for fire drills because classes would be disrupted.
  • All buildings will need time and help in coming up with a plan before beginning drills.
  • Susan and Jinny will contact appropriate administrators to begin working on plans.
  • Drills would progress from advertised to surprise.
  • Some SAC members expressed appreciation for this news, as staff have been asking for fire drills.
  • Susan and Jinny would like to place an evacuation route sign in each room, on the back of the door.
  • McCabe and Sharples were discussed as good buildings to start with. Dorms already have regular fire drills.

Being no other business, the meeting was dismissed at 10:58 am.

Submitted by
Beth Baksi