"Being a Staff Council representative, then Vice President, then President, my appreciation for UVM's long-standing staff contribution has grown. The work we did 15 years ago, or 30 years ago, or 50 years ago, has kept UVM alive as an important resource in our state and for our Vermont and regional students.
Fifty years ago, administrative staff were using typewriters and taking dictation for meeting minutes. Fifty years ago, admissions staff were evaluating applications on paper. Fifty years ago, custodial staff were using chemicals to clean we wouldn't think of using today! When you think of the evolution of our university, you know that it was staff who studied what changes were needed, implemented the changes, and made it work for UVM.
Staff Council has been the way for staff to discuss commonalities, and advocate for our work on behalf of UVM. I'm proud to reflect on my time in the Council where we participated in hiring a UVM President (Sullivan), a Provost (Rosowsky), and met with numerous University leaders, consistently reminding them of the staff contribution to our University. I'm proud to be a staff member at UVM, following the path of the staff before me, and working to contribute toward UVM's vibrant future."
- Renee Berteau
"I served as the Chair of the Financial Affairs Committee 93-94, which later split to become two separate committees, one for Wages & Salaries, another for Benefits. While I chaired this Committee, we passed two impactful benefit policies. First, we pushed for and received Partner Benefits long before the state approved Civil Unions in 2000. Second, for the first time ever, staff were asked to pay a co-pay for health visits. At the time, the proposed rate was a prohibitive set cost that would be very difficult for all of our staff to afford. We successfully negotiated a much lower and affordable rate so that the cost did not prevent lower paid staff from seeking important preventative and necessary medical care.
On the Wages & Salary side, we successfully fought for a significant increase for all staff based on the fact that we had faced some years of little to no increase in pay. I felt that the amount of work that was accomplished by our committee that year was a testament of the commitment of those who served by my side. I was honored to be a part of these critical decisions that helped so many of my colleagues."
- Libby Dunbar, 1992-1994
"Not unusually, my path with Staff Council began as a professional development opportunity. I had only been at UVM for about 4-5 months when I discovered Staff Council, and figured this would be a perfect way for me to get out of my cubicle and interact with a diverse set of people across campus whom I would otherwise never have met, while at the same time offering additional meaning to my days at UVM.
Marie Tiemann, the co-chair of the Personal & Professional Development committee at the time, was very welcoming, and encouraged me to join as an at-large member, since my unit, DEM, had no open seats at the time. Being in a training role, this seemed like a perfect fit, and it was. Over time, I also joined the Compensation, Benefits & Budget committee, expanding my network and connections to the UVM community.
When a seat did open in my unit, I became an elected member representing DEM and then also being chosen as co-chair for PPD that same year. I am most proud of playing a small part in the inception of the Staff Council Professional Development Fund program, which was born from PPD, as was the small part played in improved lactation spaces and the placement of Mamava Pods on campus. Much of the heavy lifting for these two initiatives was done by the Nursing Parents committee members, but it was great to see and be part of.
I now find myself as the Staff Council Administrator. In this role, I am not a Staff Council member, but work as a staff person, along with Elisabeth Blair, our Program Coordinator, to support administratively and collaboratively with Staff Council to get the work done of the council. I find the people on Staff Council to be among the most passionate and engaged people I have worked with in 35+ years of my professional career."
- Alan Shashok
I had the pleasure to serve as the Staff Council Administrator from 2008 – 2015. This formative role has had a long-term impact on my professional career in higher education administration and I am so thankful for the staff, faculty, students and University leaders who supported me during my tenure. To celebrate Staff Council’s 50th Anniversary, I wanted to share a story that highlights the importance of Staff Council as an advocacy organization whose efforts can lead to positive change. Staff Council was always able to share stories of the staff experience at UVM, but stories only provided so much context and we needed more data to support our advocacy efforts to implement initiatives important to staff.
Working with then-Staff Council President Ida Russin, Vice President Michelle Smith, and Coordinator Diane Trono, we spent time with the Executive Board of the Council to reorganize the eight standing committees to four and designated one, the Outreach Committee, to develop and execute a Staff Council survey on a biannual basis. Working closely with Institutional Research, we were able to design a survey that not only assessed Staff Council’s performance in fulfilling its mission, but also provided more data about specific issues facing staff. For a few years, we had heard stories from staff indicating they had not received an annual performance appraisal and there was ongoing discussion among University leaders of how to incorporate merit-based salary increases. This in turn caused discomfort and concern from staff about what any review might look like after a period of no review or feedback, and if supervisors would have been able to equitably justify merit-based salary increases. Incorporating a survey question about performance appraisals seemed like a logical next step.
At the time, Staff Council served about 1,800 non-represented staff. When the survey was sent out to this group, we were impressed that we had a response rate of over 40%. When we reviewed the data, we learned that about 35% of the staff who responded indicated that they had not received an annual performance appraisal within the last two to five years, if I recall correctly. We finally had the quantitative data that confirmed what we had heard for some time! Sharing this with University leaders and the Board of Trustees was a transformative moment that began with additional efforts to ensure staff received performance appraisals and held staff and faculty supervisors accountable to complete these annual reviews. Perhaps even more important were the additional training opportunities and support to design a performance appraisal process to assist supervisors in conducting and completing these appraisals.
We were fortunate to have a strong partner in Human Resource Services and together made a significant impact that was further confirmed when we executed the Staff Council survey the second time. We saw that the number of staff respondents indicating they had not received a performance appraisal in the last two to five years had decreased. To see that change in a short time was powerful and reaffirmed for me just how significant a role Staff Council played at UVM.
There are so many experiences like this from my time with Staff Council and at UVM that I carry with me every day. The lesson I learned over and over again was how a group of people with a common goal could come together to make a significant positive impact on a small or large scale. I send a heartfelt message of thanks and immense gratitude to all UVM staff, but especially those staff who have served on Staff Council throughout its 50-year history and who I had the pleasure of working with so closely during my time at UVM. Here is to many more years of Staff Council giving voice to staff at UVM.
- Jeff Bukowski, Ed.D. G '08, G'13
I and Dave Punia, also on Staff Council at the time, were successful in getting staff discounted bus passes and ten -ride tickets to ride on CCTA, now Green Mountain Transit. I would say it was mostly due to Dave.
- Jane Hendley, late 1980s
50 years of Staff Council, WOW! 50 years of Staff Council is a true testament to the importance of Staff Council in its role of advocacy and support of non-represented staff at the University. Congratulations to all who have served over the years.
My story starts in 2014. My supervisor at the time, Tara Messier, suggested I fill one of the open seats for HRDMA. She was a strong supporter of Staff Council and understood the importance of having a voice. I was at first reluctant, but agreed to submit my name, and as "they" say, the rest is history.
I served as a representative and on the PPD committee my first term. It was truly an inspiring experience. I am so thankful I took the plunge. Insightful, educational and fun are the words to best describe my experience. I got to work with some truly great people during my time on Staff Council. I continued through my first term gaining experience and a better understanding of how non-represented staff are supported by Staff Council. I decided to continue with a second term, because the role was very rewarding. I served only one year of my second term, as the co-chair of the PPD committee. I switched jobs, leaving HRDMA and moving to LCOM, so I had to resign my role since LCOM already had a full contingent of representatives.
A year later, in 2018, when the opportunity to run for President presented itself, I jumped at the opportunity. Being President of Staff Council from July 2018 until September of 2020 was as fulfilling a job as I've ever had. We saw some progress, we experienced some bumps in the road, but most importantly we weathered as much change as any organization can. During my twenty-seven months as President, we said good-bye to a University President, Provost, Board of Directors Chair, & Staff Council Administrator. Staff Council was an integral part of hiring a new President, Provost and replacing both positions with-in the Staff Council office.
Then came a world-wide pandemic, which turned the campus upside down. Despite all that, Staff Council endured and continued to address issues with the administration. It didn't always go as we would have hoped, we had some significant issues to deal with including a non-represented staff salary reduction and a calling out of systemic racism. I am proudest of our ability to address these issues head-on and worked through them addressing concerns of staff, looking inward to better understand and identify systemic racism and bias and working closely with administration "to do better!"
As I prepare to leave UVM and I look back on my time in Staff Council, one thing rises above all else and that is staff's strength, resiliency, work ethic, and deep desire to make the university better. I have truly been blessed to have had the opportunity to work at UVM and will forever be grateful to all the fantastic staff that make the University a great institution of higher learning.
- Steve Lunna, 2014-2020
One of the most memorable moments from my time on Staff Council was the snow day ice cream social during EDU@UVM a few years ago. It was headed by Margie and Lacie, co-chairs of the PPD committee. The day of the social ended up being a huge snow storm. However, attendance was still awesome and it was great scooping ice cream and getting to chat with all of the people who ventured into the Davis Center that day.
- Michael O'Sullivan, 2016 to present