Staff Senate/OSAC Discussion
Mumm stated the OSAC has been discussing whether we are duplicating efforts. In addition, Dr. Haack has suggested to the executive committees that they combine the two groups. Brenda Jochum, president of OSAC, has been discussing the matter with OSAC members to see what kind of things they would like to see happen. Mumm noted she was to bring the matter to Staff Senate members to see what members feel would be involved in the possibility of having the two groups combined. First of all, do the two groups duplicate efforts? If combined, what about representation? OSAC is concerned about this matter since they represent a very large group of employees on campus. Currently on Staff Senate there are four representatives for their large group. They are also concerned about the Office/Service Scholarship and "Making A Difference". Some suggested areas of change included representation and expanding committees to include more than just Senate members. Jochum was asked for her comments. She noted OSAC would want to be sure that Staff Senate had the resources to support the "Making A Difference" without the representatives from OSAC who have done most of the work the past two years. Or does the Senate need to expand the committee structure so that more activities such as that can be continued? Or is OSAC necessary to take on those activities. Maybe OSAC just needs to redefine its purpose and have a specific direction. Since it looks like OSAC may get voided out - we just don't want to see projects we have started just die. It was explained that OSAC was established before Staff Senate and it reported to the Vice Chancellor of Business and Finance. The group was organized to be a voice to the vice chancellor and consisted of only office/service employees. Later there was a concern that there were other categories of employees who were not represented. Faculty had their own Senate, but managerial/professional and directors did not. The Chancellor agreed to support the idea of a Staff Senate, which included all staff categories. When it was setup, one of the representatives for office/service was an appointed member, which was selected by OSAC from their membership. This was to keep each organization abreast of what the other one was doing. There was a brief question and answer discussion about both Staff Senate and OSAC. The comment was made that office/service is actually represented twice - since they have two groups they can go to.
Mumm noted right now we just need ideas as to how everyone feels about expanding the group, changing the committee structure, etc. Bargen asked if there were divisions within office/service, like there is for Staff Senate. Jochum noted the body is all-together. Ellingson stated if they wanted to break it down, there would be two groups - office and service. Ellingson stated that she had made a suggestion that if OSAC & Staff Senate combine that office/service be split into two different groups with each having equal representation on Staff Senate. Ellingson said she is suggesting four office and four service representatives. Livingston noted it might be a good idea to change and have each group with three representatives, instead of four for everyone. That would keep the size more workable and would make it easier to do elections. Each group would have a representative up for election every year. Then the Senate would have three directors, three managerial/professional, three office, and three service representatives.
The question was raised about representation by number. Livingston noted the question is whether the Staff Senate runs like a senate or a house? This group needs to think about the composition if both groups should combine. One of the questions is do we want the group to be larger, or do we want to reduce the number for each division. What is the best answer for this group? One of the things this group has fallen down on is getting more people involved on committees. But Livingston also noted it is difficult to find a time when four or five people can all meet, let alone a larger group. For example, Professional Development has not met yet, and we are already into March. Livingston noted there would need to be a committee established to take care of the Office/Service Scholarship and maybe a separate committee for Making a Difference. It is already in the bylaws that committees do not have to be composed of just Staff Senate members. But we are not very good as a group about doing something about that. Bargen asked how OSAC deals with projects. Jochum noted members all work together as a committee for projects. Recently OSAC divided into two groups to do a fund raising drive for money for scholarships and to work on having a staff appreciation coffee. A question was raised about the composition of the group. Jochum noted there are nine members who serve a three-year term. Three representatives are selected at large and the rest elected. Lakey stated that every year there are two elected and one appointed. The appointment is to try and keep representation balanced. For instance, if there were more office personnel on the board, the appointed person would come from possibly the service field, library, etc. Livingston stated she was concerned that doing away with OSAC took away an opportunity for more people to take a leadership role on campus. Livingston noted she didn't feel Staff Senate could increase its numbers by another nine people. Jochum noted this was one reason a Staff Development Day was started. Office/service people do not get the opportunity to go to conferences and this was their opportunity to get professional development.
Mumm read the purpose of Staff Senate which is to promote and facilitate communication between members of the university staff and the administration, faculty and students. Staff Senate serves as a medium for addressing topics affecting staff in order to foster a better working environment. The Staff Senate acts in an advisory capacity to the Chancellor, the administration, and other university groups on behalf of the staff. It was asked how that compares to OSAC's purpose. Jochum then read the OSAC purpose which is to promote and facilitate communication between office/service employees of the University of Nebraska at Kearney and the administration, faculty and students. The Council shall serve as a medium for developing seminars, workshops, and other types of programs to foster a better working environment and acts only in an advisory capacity to the Vice Chancellor of Business and Finance and other University administrators.
It was noted that other than being an advisory to different individuals, the purposes line up quite nicely. Bargen noted as far as leadership opportunities, there are plenty of them with Staff Senate. We are always looking for someone to serve somewhere but don't have enough people to do it. Jochum noted that we are talking about combining, but really it will be that OSAC will not longer exist. But before that happens, we want to do as much as we can to help Staff Senate become the best organization it can. There are nine people now who are willing to support Staff Senate and help push them in the direction that they want to go.
Questions were raised as to why VC Haack wanted the groups to become one. Jochum noted he felt it would be better for people to have one organization to go to if they have a question. Livingston asked if OSAC has had input from colleagues. Ellingson suggested that usually you don't know until you do it how people feel. They just don't comment until after you have done something, and then it is too late. Livingston noted it concerns her that we talk about promoting communication and this would take away one communication vehicle. And yet, maybe one voice is better. Mumm suggested there is a way to improve our committee work with the help of OSAC. Mumm suggested the two executive committees should get together again and try to work something out.
It was suggested that by removing a middle step to the decision maker and increasing office and service representation, we would have a stronger voice, which in turn would be of benefit to the office and service employees. Jochum also noted that VC Haack would be willing to give support to Staff Senate. In light of the time, Mumm suggested that the executive committees work out a proposal to bring before both groups.