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May 1, 2000

Systemwide task force focuses on faculty/staff concerns

"The greatness of the University of California follows from the excellence of its people--its faculty, staff and students; however, a mere collection of outstanding individuals will not advance the University. Our ability to excel in our missions depends on collaborations and collegial environments. A collegial atmosphere can only come about through strong partnerships based on mutual trust and respect. Therefore, in support of the University's missions, the faculty and staff of the University of California affirm their responsibility and commitment to creating and fostering a cooperative and professional working environment." --UC Task Force on Faculty/Staff Partnership

By Barbara McKenna

In January 1999, two UC groups came together to identify common interests between faculty and staff and to find ways to foster cooperation and mutually beneficial working relationships between the two groups. The task force was supported jointly by the Council of University of California Staff Assemblies and the Academic Council of the systemwide Academic Senate.

In December 1999, the group issued a report affirming the importance of collaboration and making recommendations to foster a positive work environment. Their recommendations are to:

  • Develop a faculty/staff partnership Web site in order to increase the visibility of best practices that support collaboration;

  • Build an awareness of the avenues available to faculty and staff to resolve conflicts through campus Ombuds programs, mediation service, and other mechanisms;

  • Foster open and inclusive communications at the department level among faculty and staff members;

  • Recognize that there are differences in roles, but that both faculty and staff bring value to the university, and equally share responsibility for creating and sustaining a positive work environment;

  • Expand knowledge through training and development opportunities already available to include discussions on faculty-staff relations;

  • Reexamine the Faculty Conduct and Administration of Discipline to address faculty and staff relations, workplace conduct, and the administrative and supervisory responsibilities of faculty.

According to Willeen McQuitta, director of Staff Human Resources, "The partnership statement that is outlined in the task force report is truly wonderful. I'm extremely pleased to see that both faculty and staff are committed to creating and fostering a cooperative, professional work environment. This is the first time we've seen such a concerted collaboration between faculty and staff. The task force has produced some excellent best practices information that all of the campuses can use to improve the work environment."

Assistant Chancellor of Human Resources Julia Armstrong-Zwart and psychology professor Barry McLaughlin, chair of the Academic Senate Committee on Faculty Welfare, have jointly proposed to Chancellor Greenwood that a committee on work/life issues be established to advise the chancellor on matters affecting the working environment at UCSC. Chancellor Greenwood has indicated that she is willing to name a task force for this purpose and has asked Armstrong-Zwart and McLaughlin to assist in developing the specific charge of the group and to advise on possible membership.

Chemistry professor Roger W. Anderson, who was UCSC's representative on the task force, notes that, "There was remarkable consensus among committee members on the analysis of faculty/staff interactions on the campuses. It seems that, although we are looking at nine very different campuses, there are some universal concerns." The group not only identified common issues, Anderson said, but worked exceptionally well together. "I think the committee came up with some excellent recommendations, which I look forward to seeing implemented as soon as possible."

For more visit the Task Force on Faculty/Staff Partnership Web site.

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