Staff: A steady force that strives for growth

Laura Huenneke

          by Laura Huenneke, Provost

Last week I was pleased to participate in a portion of the Classified Staff Advisory Council retreat. Our staff colleagues willingly dedicated a day to this annual review and strategic planning effort, showing how committed they are to the institution and our mission of serving students and the community.

Those of us here all summer have seen how staff members keep working steadily throughout the seasons. This year we’ve benefited from staff efforts in improving facilities, landscaping and classrooms; software and data projects; and simply keeping academic offices going even though many faculty are away.

CSAC had administered a survey to the university’s classified staff, and I was privileged to get a look at the results. Good insights were provided into working conditions and into staff perceptions of benefits. I was struck by the high value placed by many on the educational or tuition benefit—accompanying the feedback that opportunities for professional growth are also crucial.

This is a great concern, for faculty and administrators as well as staff. The university is sometimes challenged to provide enough opportunities for development and career advancement. We see many talented colleagues who would like to grow and advance to the next level—but as a relatively small community we don’t always have those pathways available.

Supervisors, of course, are key in shaping the work environment. Whether it is reinforcing an atmosphere of professional behavior and mutual respect, providing opportunities for growth and development, or using the annual appraisal cycle to clarify how a staff member contributes to the accomplishments of the unit, we all share the responsibility to support and acknowledge our staff colleagues.