Staff Senate Newsletter
Hello, Shocker Staff! Normally, each May the UP and USS Senates host a general meeting on campus where UP and USS employees enjoy fellowship, receive updates from campus leadership on various topics, summarize the Senates' projects for the year, and transition the Senate leadership to the incoming presidents and senators. Of course, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the campus' transition to remote learning, and the state's limitations for gathering sizes, an in-person meeting was not in the cards for this spring. We hope you joined us for the Virtual Town Halls held during this period to stay informed about campus topics, and we are providing the newsletter below to highlight the hard work of your 2019-2020 UP and USS Senates.
The UP and USS Senates serve as representative bodies for unclassified professionals and university support staff and participates as your voice in many shared governance opportunities at Wichita State and represent the diversity of staff thoughts and ideas at our University. Together, the Unclassified Professional (UP) and University Support Staff (USS) Senators represent nearly 1,500 staff members at Wichita State.
The UP and USS Senators serve on a variety of University committees, including the Budget Advisory Committee, Parking Appeals Committee, Traffic Appeals Committee, Rhatigan Student Center Board of Directors, President’s Council, and the Academic Operations Council, among many others. Additionally, the Senate coordinates events like the Staff vs. Faculty Stock the Shocker Support Locker Challenge, reviews nominations for the annual President’s Distinguished Service Awards, and provides critical feedback on University policy change proposals.
2019-2020 Senate Summary
Hopefully you have been tuning into the Faculty-Staff Town Halls recently with President Jay Golden and Provost Rick Muma to stay informed about campus topics. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted plans to hold our traditional, in-person end-of-semester meeting with all of you. Despite not being able to meet face-to-face, we believe it is important to highlight for you what projects your staff senators have been working on for the past twelve months on your behalf. The Senates held monthly joint meetings and combined most of the committees to offer balanced input from UP and USS senators. Let's look at what your senators have been doing this year.
The Website Committee was new this year, and the team was able to revamp the UP Senate webpage to include a new homepage, a photo directory of senators, and a web page with bios of this year’s nominated senators. In the next year, the soon-to-be joint Communications and Website Committee will work on combining the content of the UP and USS websites.
The year began with the release of the statewide and WSU-specific results of the KBOR UP/USS Staff Climate Survey. The survey revealed that while Wichita State has a lot to be proud of in terms of employee satisfaction, there are still opportunities for growth and improvement, especially regarding communication/transparency, compensation, professional development, and additional rewards/recognition/benefits. These opportunities informed and directed the Senate's actions throughout the year to advocate on your behalf, and we believe we're making headway.
During November, your Service Committee planned the first friendly, bragging-rights-only Faculty vs. Staff Stock the Shocker Support Locker Challenge. Together, our campus colleagues donated more than 3,776 items/1,335 pounds to the SGA's Shocker Support Locker in an effort to raise awareness to the food and supply insecurities our students and colleages in Shocker Nation experience.
SGA joined in the fun and donated a traveling trophy to the winning constituency group. UP and USS employees donated the most items and have been able to display the trophy in various senator's offices this year. Don't forget, the Shocker Support Locker accepts donations year-round. More information on how to donate, including a list of specific needs, is available here.
In one of his first moves as the newly announced Wichita State President, Dr. Jay Golden requested Senate leaders complete an onboarding packet related to shared governance. The UP and USS Senates discussed the questions during the November and December meetings, engaged each Senate's past presidents, compiled the feedback, and delivered the onboarding binders to the President's Office in early January. The following were recommendations from the Senates:
- In order to lead the University effectively, University leaders are willing to hear truth to power and recognize the value of all stakeholders and contributors to the mission.
- We need to build the future together. To maximize the impact and generate the flow of information and input in both directions, the right parties are brought to the table early and often, and the University has expanded its efforts toward trust, transparency, and shared governance.
- The University embraces its role in serving a socio-economically diverse population of students and invests its dollars appropriately to generate meaningful, life-changing, outcome-driven impacts for its unique student body.
- The University implements change only when it is accompanied by a well-defined purpose and a process plan that includes the relevant stakeholders in the decision and timeline.
- As we embrace a changing world by 2025, staff, faculty, and students at all levels are not only empowered to attempt positive risks and take on new challenges, but also are rewarded for the outcomes.
The UP and USS Senates developed a joint Policy Review Committee to offer a more in-depth review/response to recommended University policy updates. The committee reviewed and offered feedback on the following University policies:
- Independent Contractor, effective November 2019
- Employee Training & Development, effective November 2019
- Drug-Free Workplace, effective November 2019
- Phased Retirement, in process
- Recruiting, Hiring, and Onboarding, in process
This year, the Senates moved to a combined UP/USS Awards and Recognition Committee, streamlining the award nomination process by creating a single nomination form for both UP and USS Distinguished Service Awards and following the same timeline. They also ramped up marketing efforts, including additional emails to constituents and signs for breakrooms. As a result, nominations for UP Distinguished Service awards were up by more than 50% (+7 nominations) from the previous year.
Members also served on a task force that provided feedback to Human Resources (HR) on the years of service recognition program and other staff recogntion events on campus. HR was receptive to the feedback and has been working to determine how the years of service recognition events will function, in light of social distancing guidelines. Several UP and USS senators will be serving on HR's planning committee. The following are recommendations for the annual service recogntion program:
- Include staff photos in WSU Today announcement
- Send announcement out via postcard in campus mail
- Observations/Concerns/Feedback for 2019 Service Recognition Program:
- Event doesn’t feel like much of a celebration since co-workers/guests are not invited to attend to support the honorees. One member shared they’d be uncomfortable attending an event (especially one they are being recognized at) without having a co-worker or guest with them. It sounds like the preference is less money spent on food to allow for guests to attend (within budget).
- It’s a nice gesture to suggest supervisors plan something for their employees being recognized but that isn’t happening. Maybe the celebration should happen at the division/ or college level. There is concern about inconsistency in how different departments may recognize or not recognize their staff.
- We’re too focused on being student-centered and innovation-drive that there’s “no room” for employee appreciate/recognition which is causing morale to be low.
- Ensure the administration’s participation in the event is visible, but not condescending to the staff present. Staff want to feel they matter to the University.
- Recommend HR collaborate with Carmen Hytche in planning both the Bender of Twigs Celebration and the Service Recognition Programs.
- Consider having an event planning committee to include representatives from the Senates.
- Recognize individuals by name at the program.
- Pictures taken at the event seem to be very important to the honorees. Make sure they take a picture and receive a copy.
The Senates, guided by the newly formed Organizational Governance Committee, approved their first long-range plan. This plan, built with flexibility in mind, set targeted goals for all committees to achieve in the upcoming years as a way to focus, prioritize and build on each year's momentum.
Human Resources (HR) launched the Grow @ WSU webpage accessible through ShockerSTART on your myWSU account under “Employee Training, Resources & Professional Development.” Several UP and USS senators assistted with this project. Grow @ WSU includes training opportunities and professional development options available to all employees through multiple resources on campus, partners of WSU and other state affiliations including CMD, Prior Learning Solutions and the Employee Assistance Program. Opportunities are continuously being posted.
In January, President Golden announced the formation of a number of university-wide task forces to give the broader campus community an opportunity to provide input and suggestions on various topics that will have an impact on our institution moving forward. The UP and USS Senates appointed two members per Senate to serve on these task forces.
President's Distinguished Service Award Recipients
The Shocker Pride Celebration annually recognizes outstanding employees with the President’s Distinguished Service Award and the Unclassified Professional Senate Wayne Carlisle Distinguished Service Award. Unfortunately, we did not get to celebrate this year's honorees in person, but please take a moment to review the Q&As Strategic Communications compiled and congratulate them on contributions to Wichita State.
- Angela Aubrey, College of Applied Studies
- Denise Gimlin, Graduate School
- Kennedy Rogers, Student Affairs
University Support Staff
- LaDawna Hobkirk, Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
- Matt Houston, Facilities Services
- David Muehl, College of Fine Arts
Unclassified Professional Wayne Carlisle Distinguished Service Award
- Alicia Newell, Student Affairs
UP & USS Senate Awards
In recognition of the exceptional work put forward by the senators and committees this year, the senators voted on three internal awards.
Committee of the Year:
Communications & Website: Trish Gandu, Kayla Jasso, Tyler Gegen, Lainie Mazzullo
This award recognizes a committee that worked together to carry forward the missions of the UP and USS Senates and contributed to the overall success of the Senates and, by extension, Wichita State.
Rising Star Award:
Gabriel Fonseca (UP)
This award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated quality performance, professionalism, and dedication on the Senate and shows promise for future contributions to the Senate as it carries out its mission for Wichita State. Congratulations, Gabriel!
Outstanding Achievement Award:
Trish Gandu and Kayla Jasso (UP)
Jama Challans & Matt Houston (USS)
This award recognizes an individual/individuals within the Senate for outstanding and sustained contributions to the Senate and, by extension, Wichita State. Congratulations, Trish, Kayla, Jama, and Matt!
Thank you to all nominees for agreeing to serve your fellow staff members at Wichita State! We are excited to welcome:
Elected Senators: Kayla Jasso, Tyler Gegen, Erin Shields, Amy Belden, Krissy Archambeau, Aswini Kona-Ravi, Brian Austin, Tyler Pennick and Ellen Abbey
At-large Senators: Lisa Hansen, John Jones, Jeswin (Joseph) Chankaramangalam and Daraleen (DeeDee) Estill-Matos
Continuing Senators: Denise Gimlin, Gabriel Fonseca, Shawn Ehrstein, Judi McBroom
Ex Officio: Trish Gandu (President), Julie Scott (Past President)
At-large Senators: Trisha Wenrich and Scott Williams
Continuing Senators: Randy Sessions (President), Amy McClintock, Connie Basquez, Linda Claypool, Matt Houston, Angela Linder, Sheryl McKelvey, Lisa Wood, Sandra Goldsmith and Kimberly Gutierrez
It has been a pleasure to serve as your UP and USS Senate Presidents this past year. We hope our efforts advocating on your behalf have made a difference and that we have built on the successes and experiences of past Senates in order to leave the Senates in a better place than we when started. We asked a lot of our senators this year - from serving on many University committees, to working-group meetings, to achieving the first year worth of goals in our strategic long-range plan.
We have 10 senators who completed their term(s) on the Senates this June and will be stepping away from the Senate. We'll miss them and their leadership!
- UP: Lisa Clancy, Krysti Carlson-Goering, Jeanne Patton, Susan Norton, Sally Fiscus, Deb Wagner-Kirmer, Heather Perkins, Ali Babb, Katie Givens and Lainie Mazzullo
- USS: Jama Challans, Rosemary Hedrick, Donna Hughes, Sherryl Hubble and Linda Hayes
We also want to thank UP Senate Past President Camille Childers, as she has been an amazing mentor this past year, and undoubtedly, many of the projects completed this year and carrying forward into next year stemmed from her vision and her willingness to have bold conversations at the Senate level and with University leadership. Thank you, Camille!
We are confident in the leadership of your continuing and incoming senators who will be guided by your incoming UP Senate President for 2020-2021, Trish Gandu, and USS Senate President for 2020-2021, Randy Sessions. We look forward to seeing your 2020-2021 Senates build on the momentum we created this year!
Best wishes for an enjoyable, healthy, and safe summer!
UP Senate President, 2019-2020
USS Senate President, 2019-2020
- Vision for Shared Governance: This year, the UP, USS and Faculty Senate leaders, SGA leaders, and additional University stakeholders will engage in conversations to define the principles of shared governance at Wichita State. Stay tuned for future opportunities to offer your input.
- Joint Staff Senate Constitution: The UP and USS Senates have successfully met and represented staff for the past year. This fall, the Senates will reengage in discussions for designing a Joint Staff Senate Constitution to formally bring together UP and USS employees into a single representative body.
- Service Event: Look for another Faculty vs. Staff Stock the Shocker Support Locker Challenge again this fall!
- Professional Development Event: The UP and USS Senates hope to host a professional development event on campus this spring.