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Letter to the President

To:
Dr. William Flores President

From:
Staff Council Advisory Board
Ivonne Montalbano
Lucy Bowen
Said Fattouh
John Lane
Lloyd Matzner
Mary Torres

Subject:
Proposal for Reactivation of UHD Staff Council

Date:
May 1, 2014

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) Staff Council was created and the first election held on October 18, 1987. The first group elected met with the President of the University on December 18, 1987, and By-laws were established. The mission of the UHD Staff Council was declared to be that the Staff Council would serve as an advisory body to the President of the University, and that its purpose would be to promote a positive and meaningful exchange among staff, faculty and students. The Staff Council also had the goal of providing the staff with a collective voice in helping to formulate and recommend policies on university matters that affect staff. The Staff Council has continued to hold meetings and activities/events/functions to accomplish its mission and goals through the years. However, in the past couple of years, the University has experienced a noticeable disinterest (apathy) in participation in the activities of the Staff Council. Most members of last year's Executive Committee have left the University, and others have had to resign because their supervisors felt that the time commitment was too much, and that the employees were neglecting their jobs. The lack of sufficient participation is causing the work of the Council to be less effective or non-existent. Thus, President Flores appointed this Advisory Board to explore ways by which to revitalize the Staff Council.

 

The objective of this proposal is to recommend actions that may be taken to reactivate/reenergize the Council, increase staff participation in Council activities, improve recognition of staff contributions to the University, and achieve its mission and goals on matters that affect staff at UHD.

PROPOSED AND RECOMMENDED GOALS

Proposed Goal 1: Revise By-laws

The By-laws were last revised and adopted on June 15, 2005. Proposed primary changes to the By-laws are as follows:

  • Eliminate Executive Committee officer position of "Past President."
  • Add Executive Committee officer position of "Communications Officer."
  • Add to Executive Committee five (5) positions of "Division Ambassador" (Division representatives): two (2) from Academic and Student Affairs, one (1) from Administration and Finance, one (1) from Employment Services and Operations, and one (1) from the President's Office and Advancement/External Relations, plus one (1) alternate from each of the divisions listed.
  • Re-write position descriptions for Executive Committee officers, with brief summary of each in the By-laws and a reference (and hyperlink) to the full descriptions online in the new webpage for the Executive Committee (see position descriptions in attached copy of Executive Committee webpage narrative).
  • Change the term of office for all Executive Committee officers from a two-year term to a one-year term.
  • Nominees for Executive Committee officer positions must be a benefits-eligible staff member with a minimum of one (1) year tenure at UHD and good standing. Administrative staff positions (assistant and associate deans, deans, executive directors, assistant and associate vice presidents, vice presidents, and president) are not eligible for service on the Executive Committee.
  • Nominees for Executive Committee officer positions must complete and submit a Staff Council Executive Committee Candidate Form; self-nominations are accepted.
  • The nomination process for Executive Committee officer positions will be held over a two-week period, opening on the first Monday in May and closing on the third Monday in May.
  • Elections for officers of the Executive Committee will be held over a two-week period, opening on the second Monday in June and closing on the fourth Monday in June.
  • The first general meeting of the Staff Council will be held in the second week of September; Staff Council will meet at least once per month throughout the year, the day to be determined by Staff Council at the beginning of the term.

Proposed Goal 2: Add a New Position of Communications Officer to the Executive Committee

The new Communications Officer will:

  • Design, develop and update the Staff Council website, and will maintain the website with current information that is of great interest and importance to staff members (see attached copy of full position description in the Executive Committee webpage document).
  • Direct messages from the university administration that encourage supervisory staff to be receptive to allowing staff to participate on the Council, as well as messages to encourage staff members to participate in Staff Council activities, and that their services are needed by the University.
  • Set up hyperlinks in more online locations to link them with the Staff Council website.

Proposed Goal 3: Process for Election of Division Ambassadors

The process for elections of Division Ambassadors (Division Representatives) to the Executive Committee is as follows:

  • Nominations are sought
  • Self-nominations are accepted
  • Two (2) representatives from Academic and Student Affairs, one (1) from Administration and Finance, one (1) from Employment Services and Operations, and one (1) from the President's Office and Advancement and External Relations, plus one (1) alternate from each of the divisions listed. (The alternate to be the person getting the next highest number of votes within the division).
  • The supervisor's approval form must accompany the nomination form.

Proposed Goal 4: Creation of New Webpage for Staff Council Executive Committee

A new webpage will be created to provide a better understanding of the Executive Committee's role and its officers' duties, in hopes to stimulate greater interest in staff participation in the work of the Council.

Proposed Goal 5: Develop Means to Recognize Staff Council Executive Committee Officers' Service

Currently there is no form of recognition of staff who serve on the Staff Council Executive Committee. Faculty members who provide services to the Faculty Senate Executive Committee receive recognition in the form of a course release. There is no overtime pay or compensatory time awarded either. The Staff Council Advisory Board recommends and proposes the following actions:

  • Present each Executive Committee Officer with a gift card for $50.00, along with an engraved plaque, at the end of his/her services on the Committee.
  • Have the gift card and plaque presented to the outgoing Executive Committee Officers by President Flores during the second week of August.

Proposed Goal 6: Change in Staff Awards Ceremony

  • Staff Service Awards (for length of years of service at UHD, beginning with 5 years) are based on dates obtained from ESO for the current fiscal year – September 1 through August 31. It is recommended that staff be eligible for service awards in their anniversary for the appropriate number of years (5, 10, 15, 20, etc.) falls within that time period.
  • For FY2014, discontinue the Staff Awards Ceremony. Only Service Awards will be awarded. Service Awards will be ordered and distributed to staff members through the Office of University Business Services (or vice presidents/department heads may choose to do so).

Proposed Goal 7: Changes in Host of Annual Staff Awards Day Program

Selection of the host for the Annual Staff Awards Ceremony (for Excellence Award, Best Boss, Rookie of the Year, etc.) is tabled until the Staff Council is empaneled later this year (2014).

Proposed Goal 8: Change of UHD Staff Council Representative on USSEC

Officials of the University of Houston System Staff Executive Committee (USSEC) have been contacted to inform them that UHD Staff Council will not have a representative on the USSEC for the current year (FY2014), but will appoint a representative after the UHD Staff Council is empaneled for FY2015.

Proposed Goal 9: Gain More Information for Planning Staff Council's Role in UHD 40th Anniversary Celebration

  • Reach out to the UHD Library Archivist for information to be used in the Council's role in the commemoration of UHD's 40th anniversary.
  • Reach out to representatives of Multimedia and Advancement and External Relations for photographs of past Staff Council officers to be used in the Council's role in the commemoration of UHD's 40th anniversary.

Proposed Goal 10: Develop and Set up a UHD Display Wall for Staff Council

A good means of showing recognition to staff members who have served as officers of the Staff Council Executive Committee, and to encourage interest in staff members toward participation in Council activities, is to develop and set up a UHD Display Wall of past officers, current officers, current information, and historical matters. The Display Wall should be set up in an appropriate location within the One Main Building. Items to be displayed should include, among other things, the following listed items:

  • Information on the role and responsibilities of the Staff Council and the Executive Committee
  • List of current officers, their Staff Council Executive Committee titles, job titles and divisions, and terms of office
  • Calendar of Council meetings, events/functions and activities
  • A group photo of current officers
  • Group photos of past officers by years
  • Articles and photos of events/functions and activities

Proposed Goal 11: Create New Webpages (and Update Current Webpages)

In order to ensure the success of encouraging greater participation by staff in Staff Council service, as well as urging the supervisory staff to support and endorse such service of their subordinates, we propose the creation of several new webpages designed to heighten the interest of staff. The webpages will include explanation of the purpose of the Staff Council, how participation is needed and will be helpful to the staff and the university, an invitation to submit their input through email, and announcement of the $50.00 gift certificate and engraved plaque (if it is approved). We are even proposing to include a "Message from the President" for your approval.

Conclusion

This proposal is submitted with the Advisory Board's strong determination to improve significantly the Staff Council, and increase its effectiveness in accomplishing the mission and goals on matters that affect staff at UHD. The Advisory Board is dedicated and eager to bring this most important endeavor to a successful conclusion.

Last updated or reviewed on 9/12/14

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