Bylaws Regarding Chair of Sub-committees
Livingston stated she has had discussions with both Mitchell and Ellingson concerning this matter. She reminded members that according to our bylaws, Staff Senate members must chair all committees and sub-committees. She stated that we are running into problems since not everyone is willing to do that. She noted that we might need to change our bylaws so that at least sub-committees do not have to have a Staff Senate member as chair. However she noted we need to be careful that we always have Senate members on the committees. Livingston noted the sub-committees were setup that way for communication so that Staff Senate knew what was going on in the committees. Hopefully Senate members would be more willing to be on committees if they didn’t have to be chair of the sub-committees. The communication would still be maintained, but it would freeup some of the workload. Livingston asked Mitchell and Ellingson if they had anything to add. Mitchell stated she agrees that this needs to be done. She noted that personally she feels very swamped with all the committee work. She noted that on one of the committees she chairs, she has only been able to attend one meeting. Brenda Jochum, vice chair, has taken on those responsibilities.
Ellingson stated she felt we are overloading many Staff Senate members. Ellingson also noted that on two sub-committees, she has had to tell members that only Staff Senate members can serve as chair. She felt this was kind of an insult. You ask them to serve and give of their time, but tell them their services are limited. Ellingson noted many of them might not want to be chair, but she felt the opportunity should be there. She noted that if we are asking individuals to get involved, and we are, then they should also have the opportunity to be chair. Ellingson noted that in addition to that, if there are only one or two Staff Senate members on a sub-committee, then you have to say to the rest of the committee, you can only elect this person or that person. Ellingson noted she has had to do that this year, but she was real uncomfortable doing it.
The question was raised as to how Staff Senate would keep abreast of what is going on if the chair is not a Staff Senate member. Livingston noted any Staff Senate member on the sub-committee could report to Staff Senate concerning the committee activities. It would not have to be the chair reporting. Livingston noted that part of the job of a Senate member is to bring back information to the whole Senate. Livingston clarified that we are talking about sub-committees and ad hoc committees only.
Ellingson stated she would like to talk about the way we do standing committees also. Currently we require four Staff Senate members (one from each category) on each committee. She looked at Faculty Senate’s committee structure from the web. She stated she is not asking that we do what they do, she just wanted to see what they do concerning committees. She noted Faculty Senate has 12 committees listed in their bylaws. We have 10 in ours. However only a few of their committees have Faculty Senate members on them. Most of their committees are composed of either faculty elected to that particular committee or appointed to that committee. In comparison, most Staff Senate members serve on anywhere from two to four committees. Ellingson stated she is concerned that we are going to overwork our members to the point where they will not be willing to serve again. And if anyone inquires about Staff Senate, they might respond that being a Staff Senate member is a lot of work which would make it hard to recruit other people to serve. Ellingson stated she hopes she is not giving the wrong impression; she enjoys all the committee work that she does, but it is an overload of her time. Also if you are walking out of the office a lot for meetings, your boss is not going to appreciate that and it can become a real problem. Ellingson stated she just wanted Staff Senate to take another look at how things are structured so that we are encouraging people to get involved in Staff Senate, not discouraging them. She noted we still need to know what is happening, but if others on campus could help with the committee load, it would be very helpful.
Roggasch noted she liked the idea of appointing people to serve on our committees. She noted a lot of people will not volunteer to be on committees, but will serve if asked. Ellingson stated that if they get a taste of what Staff Senate is doing, they might later agree to become a Staff Senate member themselves. Then we could increase our pool of employees willing to serve. If employees have never had anything to do with Staff Senate, they may not know if they want anything to do with it or not. Roggasch noted that as far as the control, each of the committees has to report back to Staff Senate and they are under our umbrella for advice. If there is a committee going down a road we don’t think they should, we could step in and say they need to slow down and rethink this. Livingston stated she does not disagree with anything being said, but we do need to have a Staff Senate member reporting on the committee, rather than depending on the chair or another member to keep us informed. In the past, that has not worked because they forget it is time to report. Then we really don’t know what is happening with the committee. Roggasch stated we could make it the responsibility of any Staff Senate member on the committee to report back to the whole Senate. Ellingson stated if there are written minutes, they should be required to send a copy to the secretary of Staff Senate to keep on file. Livingston asked if most committees have minutes. Ellingson stated that if she is on the committee they do. Kucera stated that she was always told to get as many people involved as possible in order to buy into a concept. She stated that currently we have a small minority of people involved. So the more people we could get involved on campus, the more there would be a better understanding of what we are trying to do. She noted she is in favor of appointing people to committees. She stated she is aware of many people in her office who would be willing to serve on committees, but do not feel they have the time to be on Staff Senate. Mitchell too stated she knows there are people out there who are willing to help out, but don’t want to make a three year commitment. Livingston asked how we find out who those people are? Roggasch stated we all have a circle of people we know on campus and we could start there. Part of our responsibility is to get out on campus and get to know more people; this would get us to enlarge our network of people. Danube stated trying to tap into other people to participate is great, but Livingston had mentioned the problem of getting information back. Danube stated we might be able to get them to come to our meeting if they could just come, report, and then leave. Livingston stated that would be a problem since Robert’s Rules does not let you do it that way and also all ten people reporting would want to be heard first. They would have to wait their turn and that could take some time. Roggasch stated we could invite the chairs to report to Staff Senate, but tell them that they, or the Staff Senate representative on the committee, would be the communication link to Staff Senate. Livingston stated she wanted to be sure that those who serve on Staff Senate understand that part of their obligation is committee work. Members not only need to attend the hour and a half meeting once a month but need to understand there are other parts to being a member of Staff Senate. Livingston noted she understands what Ellingson is saying that you can go too far and do too much. However part of a member’s role is committee work. Ellingson stated she agrees; we need to be involved. She was just suggesting we find a way to cut back a little on the load and let more people get involved. Staff Senate just needs to be sure individuals can be involved in Staff Senate and not jeopardize their jobs. Roggasch noted the bylaws state we have to have four Staff Senate members on each committee. She suggested we cut that back a little, but not give up the committee work. Roggasch suggested requiring only two Senate members from two different groups on each committee. Livingston suggested that the Procedures Committee meet and then make a recommendation to the Senate. McMullen briefly recapped the discussion to be sure he understood the charge to the committee.
Livingston stated she would like to see Employee of the Month nomination requirements changed. That is not a bylaw issue, but she would like members to be thinking about it for discussion at a later meeting. Livingston is suggesting that we become a little more casual with the nominations. There are a lot of people who will not nominate individuals simply because they do not want to go through the formal process. However they would be willing to call the committee and nominate someone. Hines noted no one wants to fill our forms.
Ellingson stated she had one other item concerning the bylaws. Under duties of the secretary, it states the secretary shall disseminate the agenda. She stated she has never done that; the president has always done that. Ellingson recommended that be moved and put under the president’s responsibilities since the president has always done that.
Livingston stated just for members’ information, the chair of the “Making A Difference” Committee has asked to step down as chair because she does not have the time and also wants to be removed from the committee. Livingston noted that Brenda Jochum, vice chair, has been taking the lead on the committee in the chair’s absence. Livingston stated that until we get the bylaws changed, she is assuming that Jochum will continue leading the committee. Ellingson stated if not, then either she or Wilson would have to assume chair since they would be the only other Senate members on the committee. Consensus was if Jochum was willing to do it, just let her chair the committee. Ellingson stated she would talk to Jochum.