University of Vermont

STAFF COUNCIL - Serving as a voice and advocate for all staff at UVM since 1971

A Note from Staff Council President Karmen Swim

WOW…this is my last Staffline letter.  I hope it finds each of you relaxing after a very busy academic year! 

The Staff Council Committees are doing some critical and essential work on behalf of the staff…and this work has led to so many successes for the staff in the last two years creating a buzz and excitement around our work.    

To highlight a few recent “wins” for the UVM non-represented staff:  Staff Professional Development Fund (first round of awards expected to take place this September), Short-Term Disability Benefit for Staff (you’ll be able to enroll during this fall’s Open Enrollment Period), and the recently-announced Birthday Holiday/Cultural Holiday for Non-Represented Staff (effective starting 1/1/19). 

In response to the Birthday Holiday/Cultural Holiday for Non-Represented Staff, we have received so many “thank you” and “awesome work” shout-out emails for this new benefit.  However, I received today an email exchange that truly encompasses the true reason behind the additional day off, so I want to share it with you (with permission from Denise Townsend, Larner College of Medicine staff member):

Denise: I want to thank you very much for your work on the new Birthday Holiday/time off!  So wonderful!

Me:  Our honor!  Only requirement - celebrate YOU; however that feels best/good to you.  And, that you remember that the University “values” YOU enough to give you this special day to make it all about YOU.

Denise: Gosh – I feel very honored to work for UVM and be part of the COM.  Reading your words about celebrating in a way that feels best/good to the individual is generosity and kindness I have never experienced anywhere else! 

I hope you all have a sense of value in your employ at the University – because job satisfaction is very important … feeling appreciated and wanting to come to work every day!  Staff play a vital role in the success of this University and the Board of Trustees, President Sullivan and the Deans of this institution acknowledge and celebrate this, as has been demonstrated time again through their efforts to collaborate with Staff Council and their commitment to help us make effective and positive change for us – if you could walk in my shoes, you would know!

I also want to highlight that the Council has also hosted a number of wonderful educational events for the staff in the last year, including the Women’s Summit, Parenting at UVM, and the Ice Cream Social.  We will also be rolling out our New Employee Jump Start Program this fall based on all the feedback we’ve received from staff about your experiences coming on board at UVM. Stay tuned for this! 

By now I am sure you all know, it is official - you have elected a new President and Vice President for Staff Council.  Starting July 1, 2018, Stephen Lunna will be your new President and Caleb Gilbert will be your new Vice President.  Both will be exceptional leaders for the Council and will continue to advocate on behalf of the non-represented staff at the University. They will build upon the progress and momentum the Council has made in the last couple years.  But remember, in order to continue advocating for you, the UVM staff,  we will need to continue to hear from you…your thoughts, concerns, suggestions (good, bad or indifferent).  We can hear from you in one of many ways: you can reach out to your representative, the Staff Council Office or to your President or Vice President.  The semi-annual Staff Council Survey is prepared and ready to be deployed this fall as well – an invaluable tool to the Council -- an opportunity for you to share your thoughts and be heard!  The results of this survey are vital to helping our committees set their goals to serve you, so when you receive your survey invitation I hope you will take a few minutes to give us your thoughts.

Did you know, we have only two vacant representative seats on the Council?  One vacancy is in HRDMA and one in ETS.  It is an exciting time to be part of this amazing team, so, if you work in either of these areas, I challenge you to fill out a nomination form and become a Council representative (  Just saying -- I would love to leave my Presidency with a full Council in place. I am already so proud that next year’s Council will be the largest (and most representative) since Staff Council was formed in 1971.

A final event as President this month will be attending the celebratory breakfast to honor the 2018 award recipients for the President’s Our Common Ground Award.  Always an inspiring event…and this year’s winners are exceptional:  Patricia Corcoran, Joe Gervais, Erin Montgomery, Ferene Paris-Meyer, Kunie Renaud, and Ben Wimett.  Each are so very deserving of this very distinctive award! 

I want to end this letter to you on a personal note.  Being President of the Staff Council has been a life-changing experience –always inspiring and fulfilling and, yes, sometimes even challenging.  And, I would do it all over again.  I am honored to have worked with such an amazing group of Staff Council representatives.    

As we all know, a good leader knows that the people who work with them deserve the credit and recognition for successes -- it is because of their hard work and contributions!  So, thank you to each and every Staff Council Representative. You are each exceptionally talented and undyingly committed to making change for the non-represented staff of the University of Vermont.  I came into this presidency with an emphasis on educating, engaging and empowering our staff, fostering relationships with administration and making POSITIVE CHANGE.   

A BIG shout-out to Gary Derr (Vice President of Executive Operations), Bethany Wolfe (Staff Council Vice President), Meryl St. John (Staff Council Administrator) and Amy Gilman (Staff Council Administrative Coordinator) for their guidance, advice and leadership!

I would be remiss to not take an opportunity to thank the leadership at the University for your commitment to the staff and for working together to understand the needs of those employed here: for the many engaged conversations, collaborations on initiatives, sharing information and data and offering perspectives, opinions and guidance to the Council during our monthly and quarterly meetings.  By working together we were able to move our initiatives forward and look at the great work we accomplished!

I hope you enjoy what I hope to be an extraordinarily gorgeous Vermont summer and I look forward to seeing what is next for Staff Council!