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17 September 2019

Staff Advisory Council Minutes

Staff Advisory Council Meeting 

Tuesday, September 17, 2019 

Trish Tancredi, Shirley Slaughter, Gary Beauford, Christie Ashton, Carl Benner, Jenna Rose, Oliver Hollocher-Small, Roderick Wolfson, Jean Nilan, Steve Lockard, Lynn Grady, Nabil Kashyap, Pamela Prescod-Cesar, Melanie Leeds, Pamela Borkowskik, Ashley Turner, Diane Fritz, Felicite Gibson, Paula MacDonald, Susan Eager, Pam Harris


Tuesday, Oct 15 SAC meeting, 101 S. Chester Room 002, 9-10:00 am

  • Updates from sub-committees

  • Theresa Maguire, Human Resources Manager, would like to discuss reimagining large scale community events.

  • Discuss Questions #7 in more detail

Tuesday, Nov 12 Fall All Staff Gathering, Lang Concert Hall, 10:30 am – Noon

Tuesday, Nov 19 SAC meeting, Sharples Room 209, 9-10:00 am

Tuesday, Dec 17 SAC meeting, 101 S. Chester Room 002, 9-10:00 am

For Discussion: 

HR (Pamela PC)
Guest: Paula MacDonald, Assistant Director EO & Workplace Relations. Welcome day #2 at Swarthmore! Paula is formerly from Syracuse University.

  • Focus on career progression and growth at Swarthmore. 

  • Institutional framework review with departments, identifying the skills needed to meet goals. 

  • Workplace relations [formerly ‘employee relations’]. 

SAC Website Review (Susan)

Please review your information on the SAC website, make sure it is up-to-date and complete:  List of current representatives.  Changes should be sent to the SAC Web Site Administration Sub-Committee.

  • Susan and Pamela PC will update the SAC Circles to reflect current nomenclature (i.e., Office Services now has a new name).

Sub-committee Assignments  (Susan)

    • Please assign yourself to [at least] one or committees

    • Please report out at each SAC committee

  • Sub-committee Updates

    • Discount Sub-Committee Update: Chris Keans, Head of Purchasing, is going to work with the committee to help identify high-profile vendors to offer discounts.

      • We examined other local institutions to learn about the discounts they offer. Most are centralized on HR websites. We recommend adding OneCard and Discounts on HR website  going forward, with a link on SAC website too (i.e., computer discounts on HR website, instead of just ITS)

      • Working with merchandisers in the ville. The Inn just offered a 15% discount for Happy Hour.

November All Staff Plans (everybody)

    • Communication

      • Susan to email the entire staff with a Save-the-Date

      • Work with Alex Satre

    • Agenda (tentative)

      • Susan introduces SAC website

      • Speaker recommendations?

        • President Smith

        • Provost Office, Sarah

        • Construction Updates, Jan Semler

        • Student Life, James S. Terhune


SAC members, when you receive a request/complaint to bring to SAC consider ‘due diligence’ by first asking “Did you contact the department/supervisor directly first?” For example, “I have a problem with benefits” you would ask them if they contacted HR first. 

  • But, many of these queries come to us anonymously, therefore, ‘due diligence’ and asking follow-up questions may not be an option.

  • Find ways to build bridges, instead of sending links to policies.

  • Idea to have an FAQ on the SAC website with previous questions/answers.

  • Idea have organizational charts on departmental websites as well as HR

  • Idea: have FAQ - or list archive of questions separate from the minutes [does this fall under the Governance Sub-Committee?]. Idea: link to Org Charts.

  • As a SAC member follow-up with the individual/s who sent in a request to you so that they have closure or more understanding about their question.

  1. Here is the link to the College's records management policy which was approved in 2016 and it looks like rolled out with some PowerPoint slides in 2017.   I'd guess that there is great variation in departments' compliance with the records management policy.  This seems like something that is in the staff's control and risk for the College could be reduced if the Staff Advisory Council worked to improve adherence to the policy. 

    1. College Archivist will soon to be hired by the Libraries and data management

    2. Each department has their own set of retention rules

  2. Many colleges/universities offer additional benefits - either while still working or in retirement - to staffers who have worked 25 years or more. Does Swarthmore offer such staffers anything and, if so, what?

    1. This question was responded to by John Cline earlier this year, please refer to previous minutes. 

      1. The HR Department is committed to providing timely responses and services to community members. As communicated in various emails over the past several months, the HR team has been in transition this year as key staff members moved on to elevate their careers. This is not an excuse for delays in responses, however, it is a direct impact on the service level. We currently have active searches for the Director of EO and Deputy Title IX Coordinator, Benefits Manager, and HR Administrative Assistant. We are thrilled that Paula MacDonald has joined our team (this week) as the Associate Director for Organizational Development and Workplace Relations. Paula will replace Tony Natale, who is away the next couple of weeks and will end his appointment with us on October 31. During our transition, Michele Mocarsky, Director of Compensation and Benefits is also overseeing Talent Management. We ask for your patience during this school year as we move through these changes. Please contact me or Michele if you encounter any extraordinary delay in service.

  3. The committee received an inquiry regarding the lack of service in a specific building. After discussion, the resolution is that all service issues and requests should be first brought to the attention of EVS management by contacting

  4. "This calendar year it has been difficult to get a timely [or any] email response from HR. I have not resorted to picking up the phone. Usually, after a second email, I do receive a response. But, sometimes without a reminder, there can be no answer. Although this lack of timeliness in responding has been an issue, of late it is worse. What are the best practices for HR regarding timeliness for responding to emails? Does HR recommend using the phone instead of email? What should we expect and will staff be informed of how to contact HR, and whether or not to expect a response?"

    1. Please be patient during this time of staffing transitions. HR serves faculty, staff, and students. HR has engaged temporary staffing to support the team this semester.

    2. There are currently 3 vacant positions on the team.

  5. HR will implement a ‘benefits service line’ for additional support during Open Enrollment season. Why can't employees with a lot of sick time, in danger of losing hours ever, donate their time to a colleague who is dealing with a major illness and needs to be out long term? 

    1. The College already offers a generous SCP and LTD plan for employees. We explored this suggestion a few years ago and reported back that the College would not pursue this program given the number of complexities associated with the administration of this type of program including tax implications. 

  6. Question regarding faculty/staff meal plan pricing for lunches at Sharples.

    1. Susan reached out to Anthony Coschignano.  Should have an update for the October meeting

  7. College staff have a variety of serious concerns regarding equity, career progression, and salary transparency.  

    1. How does Swarthmore College uphold its values in the face of national wage stagnation and soaring income inequality?  The College mission statement indicates a level of commitment to pressing social issues, “Swarthmore seeks to help its students realize their full intellectual and personal potential combined with a deep sense of ethical and social concern.”   Yet, Swarthmore continues to remunerate some of the most highly compensated employees with large raises and much smaller raises to employees making the least amount of money.  

    2. There has been a significant effort to require performance reviews for all staff members without a clear benefit for the employee. Supervisors are given very little leeway for providing larger raises or promotions to high performing employees.  Many jobs either have no apparent career progression possibilities or the supervisor does not have a plan to make the opportunities available.  

    3. Furthermore, with little room for substantial raises, the current compensation structure is heavily dependant on the initial wage negotiation process, leading to inequity.  If an employee is a good negotiator, comes from a background with experience in the hiring process, or the timing of the hire coincides with a healthy college budget year, that employee reaps the benefit of a higher salary for years whereas another employee without those benefits has no way of catching up even if their performance is at a higher level.   

    4. Our faculty address their concerns through direct negotiation with the Board of Trustees and a Faculty Compensation Committee working closely with Robin Shores. We propose a Staff Compensation Committee to address these concerns.  This committee would allow staff representatives to better understand the difficult decisions made as part of the compensation process and work collaboratively to provide a more equitable, transparent system that allows for enhanced career progression.  Alternately, a College Compensation Committee, with representatives from both staff and faculty, senior staff, and the Board of Managers would also be a means to address the same issues.  


  1. Suggestions

    1. It may be helpful for you to set up a meeting with Paula (Career Development), Michele Mocarsky (Compensation) Diane or Pamela to share your questions and concerns.  They would be best to contact to learn more about compensation. 

    2. Since this topic appears to be of interest, another session on the Fundamentals of Compensation will be offered during Staff Development Week. It will provide an overview of the staff compensation framework at the College and discuss the questions that are posed in this email.

    3. Specifically, the discussion will highlight what HR has done to create transparency and topics raised in the question above.

      1. Offer a session during fall Staff  Development Week, 

      2. Could it get added to

    4. Suggestions to add  compensation slides when available to website

    5. Would it be helpful to have an economist talk to staff about compensation national and globally, e.g. Steve Golub

      1. ProgramSub-committee to work on

    6. We will continue to discuss in SAC