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October 31, 2005

Staff advisers' role on Regents 'historic,' says head of statewide staff group

By Louise Donahue

UC staff now has a seat at the table with the Board of Regents—and UCSC’s Rosemary Anderson has the perfect vantage point.

Photo: Rosemary Anderson
Rosemary Anderson chairs the statewide Council of University of California Staff Assemblies.
Photo: Louise Donahue

This summer marked the beginning of a two-year pilot program in which two staff or non-Senate academic employees are serving as nonvoting advisers to two Regents committees: the Committee on Educational Policy and the Committee on Grounds and Buildings.

Each staff adviser is also invited to stay and observe all open sessions of the Regents’ meetings and certain other Regents' events.

“It’s history in the making,” said Rosemary Anderson, chair of the statewide Council of University of California Staff Assemblies (CUCSA), which wrote the proposal to the Regents for the staff advisers position. The council is made up of staff, including the UCSC Staff Advisory Board, from every UC location throughout the system including UCOP and the three National Labs. The staff advisers to the Regents for 2005-06 are David Bell of UC San Francisco (educational policy) and Dave Miller of UCLA (grounds and buildings).

“I think the Regents are going to be pleasantly surprised and the staff perspective is going to be especially helpful,” predicted Anderson. “We’re a driving force for delivering services to students.” Anderson, executive assistant to associate vice chancellor of Colleges and University Housing Services Jean Marie Scott, attends each Regents meeting in her role as CUCSA chair.

While the staff advisers—like faculty representatives and student Regents—do not have a vote, the advisers “have made a huge difference in staff’s visibility and credibility,” said Anderson. She said access to the Regents is the key, and that a considerable amount of discussion goes on outside the meetings.

Anderson said the addition of staff advisers is part of a shift in the way staff members are viewed in the UC system under UC President Dynes. “There is more of a collegial feeling across the system,” she said, pointing out that the UC Human Resources Office has sought input from CUCSA for the past few years.

Anderson also praised the level of staff-faculty cooperation that led to the staff advisers. Then-faculty representative to the Regents George Blumenthal, UCSC professor of astronomy and astrophysics, was “a critical liaison” in the effort, she said.

The staff council is required by the Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act to steer clear of anything approaching salary negotiations, but members can raise issues of morale and tell the Regents how staff members’ flagging pay affects retention—a major problem systemwide with baby boomers starting to retire. “We’re going to be in trouble if we don’t address that,” Anderson said.

One idea being resurrected is university fee waivers or fee discounts for employees’ children. “It’s a gesture to acknowledge the value of the people working for the University of California,” said Anderson. 

While staff council members are excited about the adviser pilot program, they are hoping to fine-tune the selection process for the next set of advisers.

“We didn’t want it to be about us,” Anderson said of the current selection of advisers by CUCSA. On the other hand, the council did not want to let the opportunity for representation to slip by after so many years of trying. “We really felt an initial success was critical.”

Anderson said the staff council would prefer to have advisers chosen more like the way student Regents are selected: each campus offers one candidate, selection committees winnow down the candidates, and a committee of the Board of Regents makes the final choice.

Anderson, who has been on UCSC’s Staff Advisory Board since 2001 and on the systemwide staff council since 2002, hopes the new visibility for staff will encourage more staff members to become involved.

UCSC staff members will get a chance to see what the staff council is all about when the Staff Advisory Board hosts the organization’s quarterly meeting December 7-9 at various campus locations (check the SAB web site for specifics).

Chancellor Denice D. Denton will join the group December 8, and a special staff recognition award will be presented afterward.


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