A Note from Staff Council President Karmen Swim
- By Karmen Swim
As you already have seen, there were two recent announcements from HRDMA and I will take an opportunity in this Staffline to share history as it relates to Staff Council’s role.
However, first and foremost, I have exciting news to share. I am so pleased to announce that Staff Council recently received the official “enthusiastic endorsement” from President Tom Sullivan of a new Staff Council Professional Development Scholarship Fund, along with a very generous $10,000 contribution to pilot the program for one year. This program provides supplemental funds (matched by departments) for staff who are interested in professional development opportunities that do not exist here at UVM to further their skills in their current positions. Staff Council will now begin the work of finalizing the program, application process and how the funds will be distributed, along with creating a timeline for implementation. A thank you to President Sullivan for sharing Staff Council’s vision and believing that this fund “will be an excellent resource for staff members to further develop professionally as employees at the University of Vermont.” I want to share a quote from his memo to the Staff Council, “Thank you for your important leadership and creativity and, most importantly, your sustained advocacy for our exceptional staff at the University of Vermont.”
The new Voluntary Short Term Disability plan recently announced is such a huge success for every non-represented staff member at the University of Vermont. Some history: Staff Council has been talking about the need for a Short Term Disability plan for nearly a decade and we are so thrilled that administration committed to finding a plan and providing it to our staff. This is by far the benefit that you have asked for the most and all of your feedback has made a difference. We are so pleased that President Sullivan shared our sentiments about the need to provide a voluntary, affordable program to so that our staff can feel confident about income protection during an extended illness. Thank you to Human Resources, Diversity & Multicultural Affairs for doing the research and collaborating with Staff Council to find a cost-effective program for our staff.
In relation to the FY19 non-represented staff increases, I believe there still remains confusion about the merit component for the increases, as I have fielded many phone calls and emails since the announcement went out. History: Staff Council and President Sullivan remain committed to a merit structure to our fiscal year increases. This provides an opportunity to reward staff who are exceptional performers and providing “above and beyond” work for their department. There remains confusion as to the .5% merit component, as many think they can “only get 2% total for FY19.” For clarification, there is a 1.5% cost of living increase. Then your college/department has a .5% merit “pool” of money. This merit “pool” of money is used to only reward staff who warrant a merit increase because of exceptional performance. This means that depending on how many exceptional performers there are in your unit/department, you could get a FY19 merit component to your salary starting from .1% to a much higher percentage (which could be a 2% increase as well). I am available for any questions around this, so please do not hesitate to reach out.
During edu@uvm, Staff Council hosted two events. Thank you to all who participated in the week-long staff learning opportunities and especially for those who attended our events. The first event was an Ice Cream Social. This event was a lot of fun and very well attended. Thank you to all of our colleagues who made this event such a success, allowing staff an opportunity to clearly EAT ICE CREAM, but also an opportunity to educate themselves by visiting tables and learning about wellness at UVM, commuting alternatives, continuing education opportunities and more (along with having a choice of various ice cream toppings). It truly was a huge success so I wanted to say thank you to all who made that event successful, specifically the Personal and Professional Development Committee and Meryl St. John, Administrator of Staff Council. P.S. my favorite topping…peanut M&Ms. :-)
Staff Council also hosted a Parenting at UVM event. We invited six panelists to come to the event to share helpful parenting resources available in the community and here at UVM. If you missed the event and are interested in learning more about the resources, please get in touch with the Staff Council Office. This event was an amazing success (and one we hope to repeat in the future), so a thank you to the Compensation Benefits and Budget Committee for their hard work.
Also, stay tuned, because as Bethany Wolfe (Vice President of Staff Council) and my leadership roles on Staff Council come to an end, we will be shortly announcing who will be running for the Council’s next President and Vice President. I encourage you to attend our next Staff Meeting on May 1 from 12:05 – 1:30 pm in 338 Waterman (Memorial Lounge) to hear from the candidates and then I ask for your support in voting for the most qualified person for the jobs! There are also a few units where there are still open seats for Staff Council representatives (these are listed on our website – or you can call the Staff Council Office) and I highly encourage you to get involved and join Staff Council. It is a GREAT time to be part of this amazing group. The representatives are truly doing outstanding work on behalf of each and every one of you!
I want to take an opportunity to let you all know that Staff Council remains deeply committed to diversity and inclusion at the University. We continue to be engaged in discussions around diversity and inclusion and are working with leadership to help promote the diversity mission at the University. We support the progress that has been made so far and recognize the tremendous effort expended by our students and administration alike in continuing these discussions to reach a resolution.
In closing, I don’t know about you, but I am ready for spring and even the rain, for once it is gone, our world with be more vibrant with the green grass and colorful flowers will appear. I am looking forward to listening to the birds sing, enjoying warmer temperatures and most definitely making the most of the many more daylight hours. I hope this next season brings you a multitude of adventures.