Former VCU President, Eugene P. Trani, Ph.D., expressed an interest in hearing from the university’s internal audience. In the summer of 1991, he met with individual groups of students, faculty and staff to discuss issues of concern. Based on the feedback received from classified staff, it was clear there was a need to improve their role in the university through representation on a classified staff affairs committee.
The VCU Staff Senate has continued to embark upon further accomplishments that uphold the organization’s vision of “Bridging the Gap through Unification and Communication.”
- The Staff Senate completed its first full term with a staff representative participating in the quarterly Board of Visitors meetings.
- The Senate sponsored the 4th annual Virginia’s Caring University Scholarship Walk-a-thon — VCU’s largest to date — which raised $14,334 for the VCU Staff Senate Virginia’s Caring University Endowed Student Scholarship.
- The VCU Staff Senate hosted the 3rd annual Leadership Development Conference Series featuring Grace E. Harris, Ph.D., distinguished professor at the Center for Public Policy; Robert J. Grey, Jr., VCU alumnus and partner at the law firm of Hunton and Williams; Linda Powell Pruitt, Ph.D., president of Leadership Metro Richmond; and Gregory H. Wingfield, president and CEO of the Greater Richmond Partnership, Inc.
- The first ever Ram Tree was organized and implemented. Individual staff members purchased gifts such as household items, clothing, food, toiletries and jewelry for the VCU Health System House Calls program. VCU Staff Senate representatives delivered the gifts to the program in December 2007.
- For the first time, the VCU Staff Senate participated in the annual Anthem Gurney Tourney, benefiting the Pediatric Cancer Research Fund. Sponsored by Owens and Minor and themed Senate Safari, the team was awarded a plaque for Best Effort.
- The Senate recognized Joyce Pearson, VCU Health System Family Care Services, and Pamela O. Haney, VCU Office of International Education, as the 2007 Pride Ambassadors.
- The VCU Staff Senate and the Division of Student Affairs sponsored the VCU Safety Fair, which raised awareness of the various types of safety resources available in the local community. Approximately 400 students and visitors attended.
- Staff Senator Karen Bryant was awarded the 2008 PACME Staff Award for her significant contributions toward enhancing VCU's commitment to diversity.
- The second and third editions of our newsletter, the “Senate Minute,” were published.
- In collaboration with the organization Stop Child Abuse Now, the VCU Staff Senate organized a “Pinwheels for Prevention” garden for National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April. The garden was located outside of the VCU Student Commons and featured nearly a thousand pinwheels that were planted to help raise awareness on child abuse prevention.
- The Senate amended its constitution and bylaws to reflect the organization’s growth and advancement. This included changes or additions to executive committee positions, inclusion of the Senate’s representation on the VCU Board of Visitors and modifications to the attendance policy.
- During 2007 and 2008, the Staff Senate reached approximately 90 percent membership.
The VCU Staff Senate maintained its vision of “bridging the gap through unification and communication” and the year culminated with several accomplishments, including beginning and ending the year with full membership in all 50 vacancies for the first time since inception.
The VCU Board of Visitors granted admission for one VCU Staff Senate representative to participate in the quarterly Board of Visitors meetings. The Staff Senate also collaborated with the Faculty Senate and the Student Government Association through monthly meetings and participated in library focus groups to review books for the VCU Summer Reading Program.
The Senate sponsored the third annual VCU walk-a-thon and raised more than $10,000 for the VCU Staff Senate’s Virginia’s Caring University Scholarship. Nine scholarships were awarded to rising junior and senior VCU undergraduates. The VCU Staff Senate hosted the second annual Leadership Development Conference Series with speaker Hugh Gouldthorpe, vice president of quality and communications at Owens and Minor. The Senate, with VCU, co-sponsored the Pride campaign, beginning with a Staff Appreciation Celebration held on both the Monroe Park and MCV campuses. The inaugural edition of our newsletter, the Senate Minute, was published, followed by the second edition the following quarter.
VCU Staff Senate volunteers supported the VCU Health System Employee Appreciation Day, VCU’sFall Fest and Massey Cancer Center’s Bizarre Bazaar. The Senate also partnered with the VCU Health System to offer discounted Virginia State Fair tickets to VCU staff, therefore bridging the gap by providing an equal benefit to both campuses. Support was continued with Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School through a winter coat drive at which more than 180 coats and a 13-gallon bag of hats and gloves were collected.
Improvements were made to the VCU Staff Senate Web site and increased visibility and awareness of the VCU Staff Senate was accomplished through presentations at new employee orientations at VCU and the VCU Health System. The Dorris Douglas Budd Award was presented to staff Senator Deborah L. Stewart in the School of Medicine’s Office of Faculty/Instructional Development. Lunch-time seminars were presented to the VCU community on safety awareness. The VCU Staff Senate worked in partnership with the Department of Leadership Development to help market course programs that aimed to enhance effective work processes between academic chairs and administrative support staff.
The VCU Staff Senate made great leaps in fundraising and worked diligently to “bridge the gap and build a community of one.”
The second annual walk-a-thon more than tripled the previous year’s mark, raising more than $14,000 in donations from staff, faculty and community vendors. The total monetary collections were not only sufficient to preserve Virginia’s Caring University Scholarship fund, but also helped establish an endowment for future scholarships.
The VCU Staff Senate embarked on a new community project to implement the first annual Back to School drive to benefit nearby Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School. VCU staff and faculty members came through, contributing more than 10,000 items for the 2006-07 school year.
A groundbreaking accomplishment for the Senate this year was a joint presentation by the presidents of both the staff and faculty senates at the annual Service Awards Recognition ceremony. Other first-time events included a presentation to the Board of Visitors on safety awareness for staff, the Dorris Douglas Budd Award, chaired by the president of the Staff Senate, and a successful Leadership Development Conference with more than 100 participants in attendance. Lastly, a university committee was established and governance representation for VCU’s 2020 Vision for Excellence was assembled for VCU’s Strategic Plan Update.
The VCU Staff Senate enhanced its visibility and made a positive impact in the workplace and community in many ways.
The Senate coordinated the first Virginia’s Caring University Scholarship fund walk-a-thon and obtained contributions from 18 community vendors to raise more than $4,000. As a result of this fundraiser, seven VCU students were awarded scholarships.
The Senate extended its fundraising efforts and formed a team to participate in the American Heart Association’s annual Heart Walk. With the second highest number of participants from VCU, the Senate was ranked ninth in the average gift amount of VCU participants.
Continued involvement with university committees and governance led to representation in the VCU 2020 Vision for Excellence, security focus group sessions and the provost for Academic Affairs search committee. The Senate participated in the VCU Benefits Fair and co-hosted the annual Service Awards program with the Faculty Senate. Communication efforts resulted in published articles in VCU News and The Globe, e-mailed communications to VCU and VCU Health System staff highlighting roles, resources and goals for the upcoming year, a graphic element for the organization’s slogan, “Collaborate, Innovate, Grow,” and colorful posters distributed in key areas on both campuses.
The VCU Staff Senate took hold of the empowering theme to “collaborate, innovate and grow.”
In order to move to the next level, the VCU Staff Senate revisited internal structures and communication pathways within the Senate. Marketing was brought on board to help stir up ideas to increase visibility and awareness. The Communications Committee had new posters created that expressed various aspects of the VCU Staff Senate’s mission.
One of the areas of focus for the VCU Staff Senate was the overall safety and security of faculty and staff; these efforts remain a priority today.
Community outreach and overall involvement with various functions within VCU and VCUHS were key indicators for this year and the year to come. The VCU Staff Senate committed to increasing communications with the Faculty Senate to combine forces on topics of interest.
The 2002-03 year marked “progress through meaningful purpose.”
The VCU Staff Senate assisted with informing staff of changes related to benefits provided through VCU’s Virginia Sickness and Disability Plan and recommendations provided by the Hunter Consulting Group for the VCU Health System. Staff participation with the General Obligation Bond Campaign raised awareness of this important issue and a seat on the budget-planning group ensured that staff had a voice regarding budget issues.
Staff provided valuable input on the Academic Calendar Committee and assisted with the Christmas in April campaign, sponsored by Community Programs. In collaboration with the “Just Say Hello” campaign, the VCU Staff Senate sponsored an auction to raise funds for the University Child Development Center. Through the VCU Policy and Issues Committee, the Senate was instrumental in changing the performance ratings during the Classified Performance Appraisal Cycle. Student government and Faculty Senate representatives were invited to meetings to foster participative management throughout the institution.
In 2001-02, the VCU Staff Senate goal was “leadership through staff awareness.”
The Senate was charged by the provost to make VCU a friendlier place to work, as part of a wider initiative to make VCU a pleasant place to live, study and work. To this end, the Senate created the “Just Say Hello” proposal and helped plan the kickoff campaign in conjunction with Student Affairs. The Senate worked with the Student Government Association and the Faculty Senate — the first joint effort of the three groups — to make the campaign a reality.
The VCU Staff Senate continued to explore ways to heighten its awareness and participation within the university and the VCU Health System by discussing the Senate in departmental meetings, with university and health system administration, the student government, the Faculty Senate and University Council. Informational brochures and a new VCU Staff Senate Web site were also developed to further communicate with all classified employees.
The Senate was the first group of staff members to be introduced to the new Classified Compensation Reform Plan. This presentation allowed VCU Senators to provide feedback to their departmental areas and to Human Resources prior to the new plan going into effect. As new policies have been developed within the university, the Senate has continued to provide input and to serve as representatives on the various planning committees.
For the first time, Senators’ supervisors were invited to a Senate meeting. This granted supervisors a better understanding of the function of the Senate, as well as a greater awareness of how important their support is to the successful mission of the Senate.
The Senate worked to foster a good reputation with the university and became more involved in the governance decisions of the VCU Health System as they relate to staff members. This action was accomplished through open and honest discussions with the health system administration.
The VCU Staff Senate president met with Dr. Trani to discuss how the Senate could most effectively serve its constituents on both campuses. It was agreed that the Senate would begin to hold individual meetings to better serve the needs of the university and VCU Health System Senators and the first separate meetings were held in October 2000. This proved to be successful as it allowed each group of Senators to address individual needs.
While this was the first year of the separate meetings, the Senate saw a decline in the participation of VCU Health System Senators. This instability was likely related to changes that were occurring within the new VCU Health System as it was developing and beginning to function as an entity. The Senate realized that bringing about more participation from VCU Health System members was an ongoing goal of this organization.
The VCU Staff Senate developed a publicity campaign to heighten its awareness within the university and VCU Health System environments. In support of these efforts, the Senators began the Senate year in August by greeting new and returning students, parents and visitors to the campus and by handing out VCU t-shirts.
Each year the Senate continues to be instrumental in the selection process to appoint prominent faculty members to the university. Senate members served on search committees for a vice president for research and a chief of police and met with candidates for vice provost for Academic Affairs. This was also the first year a staff member served as an elected officer on the University Council.
The inclusion of staff members on university and health system committees continued to grow. This year’s roster included the Recruitment and Retention Committee, the University’s Marketing Committee and the VCU Health System’s Parking and Communication committees. While the Senate enjoyed an excellent reputation for service within the academic community, it furthered its goal of becoming more involved in the governance decisions of the new VCU Health System as they relate to all staff members.
The VCU Staff Senate continued to solicit publication of its activities in various institutional print media.
The Senate also accomplished previously set goals and established new ones through strategic planning sessions. Some accomplishments included participating in VCU’s MCV Hospitals and Physicians Safety Awareness Fair and having VCU Staff Senate contact information listed in the institution’s phone directory. In addition, members finalized the printing of a VCU Staff Senate informational brochure for distribution in the fall of 1999 to all employees and for inclusion in new employee orientation.
Senators actively participated in 22 key institutional committees, serving on search committees that selected senior level officials, such as the provost and vice president for Academic Affairs and an executive director for University Library Services. Senators provided input in key institutional strategic planning documents, including the Office for Information Technology Strategic Plan and a Computing Ethics Policy, met with the director of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and served with senior administrators and deans on the institution’s Marketing Task Force.
Senators fulfilled a commitment to volunteerism by helping with the new student welcome event and the Children’s Miracle Network project. Senators also contributed to the Grace E. Harris Scholarship Fund, established in honor of the provost and vice president for Academic Affairs who retired June 30.
For 1997-98, the VCU Staff Senate focused on “from building to doing,” with the goal to provide the visibility and input of staff employees at VCU and the MCV Hospitals.
Objectives achieved included:
- Increasing media coverage
- Mailing meeting minutes to all Senators, alternates and ex-officio members prior to the monthly meeting
- Establishing a VCU Staff Senate Web site
- Mailing out a VCU Staff Senate flier to all classified staff
- Presenting information about the VCU Staff Senate at the monthly VCU Health System Breakfast Club meeting
- Encouraging Senators to gather input from colleagues
- Partnering with the VCU Faculty Senate and other organized university bodies, as appropriate, regarding employee issues
The VCU Staff Senate also worked to support the university and the community by:
- Raising money for the Siegel Center through the Brick Campaign
- Assisting Parking and Transportation Services in moving freshmen into their dorms
- Serving on university committees, search committees and campuswide events
- Participating in a mentoring program
- Responding to an invitation from VT to participate in the fourth annual James D. McComas Staff Leadership Seminar
Issues of VCU Staff Senate importance included working with the food service manager to suggest ideas regarding potential on-campus McDonald’s and Ukrop’s restaurants and discussing parking issues and costs with Parking and Transportation Services.
As CSAC evolved into the VCU Staff Senate, 1996-97 was a year of transition. The first standing committees — Constitution and Bylaws, Policies and Issues (for both VCU and the MCV Hospitals), Communications, and Elections and Nominations — were established and worked throughout the year to develop operating procedures. In addition, the constitution and bylaws for the VCU Staff Senate was ratified and new officers were elected.
The CSAC began the evolution into the VCU Staff Senate based on an Implementation Plan presented to the university community.
After collaborating with VT, the following year was dedicated to establishing a VCU Staff Senate. Two committees were formed to prepare a representation plan and write a constitution and bylaws for a new VCU Staff Senate. This was finalized in March 1995.
The CSAC’s third year proved to be more challenging than previous years. For the first time in university history, the CSAC was given the opportunity to appoint members to the University Council. Members also began to realize the goal to establish a more elaborate system for classified staff to voice issues of concern.
On March 24, 1993, CSAC members met with Michael Brooks and Julie Precious of the Strategic Planning Committee and Louis Abbey from the Commission on the University of the 21st Century to present feedback on the draft of the institution’s Strategic Plan. By October, the CSAC began to focus on approaches to develop a formal classified staff senate or council. A subcommittee was appointed and began placing ads in higher education publications, as well as writing various publishing houses. The subcommittee also contacted other colleges and universities in Virginia to gather information on staff governance.
The best lead was with Virginia Tech’s Staff Senate and on Feb. 17, two CSAC members attended a Senate meeting and met with key Senators involved in the evolution process. Ultimately, VT’s Staff Senate constitution provided the basic framework for the CSAC constitution and bylaws.
In May, Sherry Lawrence, a committee member and budget analyst in the College of Humanities and Sciences, accepted the position of chair of the CSAC in anticipation of Moore’s retirement in September 1994. Linda Harber, executive director of Human Resources, was welcomed as liaison to the CSAC.
Members were united in a common bond in their roles. By working together, they promoted employee awareness of the CSAC and its purpose.
The replacement of first-year term vacancies was changed. A procedures document was developed that stated the committee’s purpose and provided information on the nomination and selection process for new members. The CSAC Selection Committee presented Dr. Trani with names of candidates for consideration. The CSAC also nominated representatives to serve on the Executive Budget Committee and the Capital Planning Advisory Committee.
By the end of the second year, members realized that a stronger voice was needed for ensuring continued staff involvement at all levels in order to remain a mechanism for addressing classified staff issues.
In the summer of 1991, Dr. Trani met with individual groups of students, faculty and staff to discuss issues of concern and determined that there was a need to improve the role of classified staff in the university through representation on a classified staff affairs committee. This committee would serve in an advisory capacity to the president and provide input on issues involving classified staff at VCU. Classified staff appointments to other major university committees, such as the Executive Budget Committee and University Council, would also be considered. A document entitled “Classified Staff Advisory Committee Proposal” was created that defined the purpose, objectives, recommended selection process, meetings and activities of this group.
Classified Staff Advisory Committee
The Classified Staff Advisory Committee was developed to serve in an advisory capacity to the president of VCU. H. Stephen Morre, then assistant vice president for human resources, initially chaired the committee and, upon his retirement, a chair was selected from the classified staff membership of the CSAC. The CSAC was charged with the goals of providing an avenue for employees to address concerns and generate solutions, making recommendations to the administration regarding classified needs and providing input to university governance on issues involving the classified staff workforce.
Some of the topics discussed by this group were a Parental Leave Policy for nine-month faculty, a day care center on the Monroe Park Campus, a Dependent Care Proposal and the General Obligation Bond Bill.
The vice presidents worked with Human Resources to nominate employees from their areas to serve on the committee. One of the primary goals of the process was to ensure diversity across job classifications, race, sex and age categories. Representation on the committee was composed of three employees each from Academic Affairs, Health Sciences, the Administrative Division and MCV Hospitals. Appointments were staggered for one-, two- and three-year terms. By the end of this first year, members were comfortable with their roles and responsibilities and unanimously agreed to maintain the current membership for an additional year.
To ensure appropriate representation and diversity of membership, a Membership Selection Committee was established to determine a means of selecting replacements for exiting members. An open forum was held to acquaint employees with the goals of the CSAC and to request input on issues of concern.