Skip to main content

21 April 2020

Staff Advisory Council Meeting 

Tuesday, April 21, 2020 

Listening to and lifting staff voices to build an informed community 


Susan Eagar, Pamela Prescod-Caesar , Felicite Gibson, Christie Ashton, Mel Leeds, Paula MacDonald, Pam Harris, Luis Alvarez, Pam Borkowski-Valentin, Molly Lawrence, Lynn Grady, Nabil Kashyap, Ashley Turner, Susan Romero

SAC Check-in amid COVID 19:

  • Comments will not be shared in the meeting notes.
  • Question: With the lack of information coming from HR, I'm wondering what the plan is for performance reviews this year. People are concerned that they haven't met their goals or are less productive than they normally are because of the disruption.
    • Answer: Performance Review information is usually sent in May. Given the current situation, administration is exploring pros and cons regarding timing for Performance Reviews. Status pending.
  • Question:  Actually some folks are concerned that they won't have a job to come back to, but that's another question.  I would like to have more clarification from the administration about their continued statement: " At the same time, we have committed to compensating our faculty and staff through the semester, including those for whom work might not be available due to our modified operations."  (This from Greg Brown April 14th).  Will the College commit to paying staff through this crisis, and commit to paying for our healthcare, at an essential time?  If staff are furloughed, what commitments are there to support healthcare and other benefits?
    • Answer: A Financial Study Group is assembling this week to examine both this year and next year’s budget. Currently an interim plan is in place for 2019/2020, the 2020/2021 plan is being considered currently and will take their suggestions to the May 2020 Board Meeting. Status pending.
  • Question:  How will SAC be able to participate and advise the Financial Study Group regarding changes (cuts) to the College's budget?  Can Pamela Prescod-Caesar be added to the Financial Study Group, as a liaison to SAC?
    • Answer: The Financial Study Group has already formed and plans to consult with other senior staff and leadership such as  Admissions, HR, Financial Aid, etc. as part of the process. Currently Greg Brown is on the committee. Pamela PC will have the opportunity to advise but will not serve on the committee.
  • Question:  When can we anticipate communication from College Administration on what the future holds for staff at Swarthmore - specifically if there will be any kind of cuts to benefits, layoffs, furloughs etc.    I am specifically concerned about the college tuition benefit for dependents.  The college usually releases that info in June (on what the benefit amount will be) - my daughter is supposed to start college in fall 2020 (which obviously could be up in the air but for now I have to proceed as planned) and I would normally apply for the tuition benefit in June/July when I receive the tuition bill from her school.  If the college intends on changing or pausing benefits (like the tuition benefit) folks who would be taking advantage of that would need to know as soon as possible.  This is just one example. There are all kinds of compensation/benefit issues that folks depend upon and having some reassurance from the college that those options are still in place would go a long way in this uncertain time.   
    • Answer: Too early to identify what will be impacted which is why the Financial Study Group has been established.
      • If any changes are made, they will be communicated to the community.
      • Status pending.
  • Question:  A staff member asked me about the caps for vacation and sick time accrual.  For example, the cap for vacation time is 240 hours.   The staff handbook says: "Occasional exceptions to this cap may be approved for unusual situations."  Would the college consider modifying the cap so staff have a longer period of time to use those vacation hours this spring & summer? Since it is likely none of us will actually be able to go anywhere for a vacation for some weeks or months, there will probably be a number of staff bumping up against this limit. It would be really nice if HR made some kind of update or announcement reassuring staff.  
    • Answer: This is an ‘unusual situation’ and HR will be updating FAQ to address this and the removal of caps. 
  • Question: What is the status of the request to establish a Staff Compensation Committee based on the Faculty Compensation Committee, first brought to SAC in June 2019?
    • Answer: No update. Status pending.