As a record number of students move in to residence halls this week and campus readies for the start of a new academic year, the leadership of the employee councils and ASCSU are taking the long view. They are setting their priorities for 2016-17, identifying where the greatest needs and opportunities are for their constituents.
The chairs of the three employee councils and the incoming president of ASCSU talked to SOURCE, and gave us insight about what’s on their top-of-mind for the year ahead.
Q: In the coming year, what are a few of the top priorities for your council?
Dr. Mary Stromberger, Chair, Faculty Council (FC)
A: As part of Re-Envision Colorado State, we’re in the midst of a re-envision year for Faculty Council, during which we are considering several initiatives that will have significant impacts. These initiatives are largely focused on changing the way that faculty are recognized and valued for who we are and what we do.
Related to what we do, it’s easy to recognize the research contributions of faculty, by considering our grants, number of scholarly contributions, graduate students, etc. But it’s not so easy when it comes to teaching and service. With this in mind, FC committees will work to develop tools and guidelines so that faculty can be fairly and objectively evaluated for our teaching effectiveness and our service impacts to the university, community, and our profession. As a result, faculty will be seen and valued for the totality of what we do.
As for who we are, we honor and value diversity, and how diversity enriches our lives and perspectives. But if we take an honest look at ourselves, we aren’t as ethnically and culturally diverse as we could or should be. I’d like to see FC become actively involved this year with administration and the President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion to develop best practices to help CSU recruit and hire more minority faculty, and then retain them.
Who we are also includes a population of faculty that are off the tenure-track. While some are here for temporary assignments, a large number of non-tenure track faculty have been members of the CSU community for most, if not all, of their academic careers. During this time, they have had no formal structure for career progression, professional development, and limited opportunities to participate in shared governance. It’s time for FC to consider their situation and affect real change to elevate their status. With this in mind, the Faculty Council Committee on Non-Tenure Track Faculty is developing a proposal that if adopted, will transform non-tenure track faculty appointments and provide the necessary structure for promotion, professional development, and shared governance.
Stacey Baumgarn, Chair, Classified Personnel Council (CPC)
A: In the coming year, the Classified Personnel Council will be looking into several large and challenging topics. First among them is the issue of wages and raises for State Classified employees. As wages for State Classified employees are set by the Colorado Legislature (and the Governor), outreach to our elected officials has already begun. We will be working to make the case for a wage increase, as well as bringing attention to the situation that more and more State Classified employees find themselves well below the midpoint of their classification salary range. Not sure if we can move the needle, but we are trying.
In a coordinated effort with CSU Human Resources and our state legislators, the Classified Personnel Council also has begun working to revise the current 1-2-3 rating/evaluation metric to a five-point scale. There are several compelling reasons to increase the range of the rating system but again, the change must first take place at the state level through the Colorado Department of Personnel & Administration. Initial conversations are underway, in order to advance this initiative.
It is also worth mentioning that the CPC remains committed to giving voice to the needs and interests of all State Classified employees. Some of our needs are unique and yet many intersect with every CSU employee. We will advocate and seek support for the lowest paid. We will help connect employees with resources from our campus and community (with and through the assistance of Community Resource Coordinator Emma Chavez). We look forward to the development and implementation of the mandatory supervisor training program. And we are encouraged through our continued participation in shared governance here at CSU.
Toni-Lee Viney, Chair, Administrative Professional Council (APC)
A: The Administrative Professional Council is committed to shepherding the comprehensive supervisory training program to implementation so that we can begin to impact the workplace climate and provide useful training to supervisors. APC will continue to be active in the budget process and will advocate for healthy employee salary increases and complete funding of the Defined Contribution Plan. We also have our eye on recommendations to the University parking plan as well as building a consistent evaluation system and process for APs. We have an interest in creating a professional development fund where employees can apply to receive funds in order to participate in professional development opportunities. Similarly, we are engaged in creating more opportunities for employees to use volunteer administrative leave (similar to VIPS). We are focused on encouraging administration to provide stronger support for policies that enhance work-life balance and caregivers, including flexible work arrangements.
Last year we worked closely with the Classified Personnel Council and Faculty Council as well as other leaders across the University to get creative on how best to support the employee community at CSU. Together we were successful in securing funding for a comprehensive supervisory training program. We also worked together to address state funding challenges toward higher education by advocating to change the Hospital Provider Fee to an Enterprise Fund. APC was active in multiple levels of the University budgeting process from being part of conversations to redesign the overall budgeting process to submitting budget proposals that address employee issues and serving on committees to rate budget proposals from all levels of the institution.
Daniela Pineda Soracá, President, Associated Students of Colorado State University (ASCSU)
A: ASCSU will be focusing on holistically revitalizing and empowering our organization, the students whom we serve and represent, as well as the campus community. This multi-level approach includes focusing the initial months of this semester on ensuring that all of our branches within ASCSU (legislative, judicial and executive) can come together to formulate a comprehensive list of goals we can all agree on, as well as an action plan to augment these efforts through cross-branch collaboration. This kind of mentality will help us to take on the issues and passions that are most important to our student body. The ASCSU leadership has spent this summer studying what we have to work with from the previous administration, as well as strategizing on new innovation that our new administration wants to pursue.
Additionally, we also have been working with the Alumni Association and Department of Athletics leadership to begin greater ASCSU involvement in this year’s Homecoming and Family Weekend, as well as exploring the revitalization of CSU traditions in their entirety.
Finally, our other two priorities include working with the CSU Health Network, faculty, and Dr. Blanche Hughes’ Division of Student Affairs to expand the current Transit Financial Wellness program to the student body at large and expanding our judicial branch’s Rams Know their Rights campaign in collaboration with Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct Services.