Staff Council Meeting Minutes – April 2019

Staff Council met on Wednesday, April 17 at 9:00AM in Alumni Auditorium. Below are the meeting minutes (to be approved at the May 21, 2019 Annual Meeting) for your review. Minutes can also be found on the K: Drive, located at K:\Staff Council\Staff Council – Meeting Minutes\June 2018 – May 2019 (Note for Windows 10 users: the K: drive is now the P: drive on your machine). Please send any recommended revisions to Cullen Bostock at prior to the May 21 meeting.

I.   Welcome – Call meeting to order (Patrick DiMambro, Treasurer, Staff Council)

II.   Approval of the March meeting minutes (see on Staff Council Blog at

  • A motion was made to approve, motion was seconded, and the March meeting minutes were unanimously approved

III.   Fair Trade 101 Workshop – Zoe Caron ‘19

  • Zoe began the presentation by defining Fair Trade (FT). Fair Trade is a global movement of producers, companies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), shoppers, and advocates aimed at ensuring conscious consumption. Fair Trade emphasizes the need for corporate social responsibility and empowers producers by providing them with livable wages and better trading conditions.
  • This video was also shown to the group to emphasize how Fair Trade impacts producers and other stakeholders throughout various products’ supply chains.
  • Zoe noted the 10 principles of Fair Trade. These principles describe what Fair Trade stands for which, as Zoe also noted, has lasting positive impact on the environment and social wellbeing.
    • Creating opportunities for disadvantaged producers
    • Transparency & accountability
    • Fair trading practices
    • Fair payment (prices, wages, and local living wage)
    • Ensuring no child labor, no forced labor
    • Commitment to non-discrimination, gender equity and women’s economic empowerment, and freedom of association
    • Ensuring good working conditions
    • Providing capacity building
    • Promotion
    • Respect for the environment
  • Zoe described the Fair Trade supply chain, which has products making their way from producers to co-ops. From co-ops, goods make their way to designated FT distributors and eventually onto the shelves in stores, cafes, etc.
  • There are more than 1,200 FT certified producer organizations in 74 countries around the world. These organizations employ 1.65M farmers and workers globally. Zoe noted that Fair Trade is a feminist issue, 26% farmers and workers are women (48% of which are employed on plantations, and 23% in small farmer organizations).
  • As alluded to earlier in the presentation, the primary benefits of FT are its positive impact on income sustainability, promotion of environmental stewardship, as well as individual and community well-being.
  • Zoe went into detail regarding Champlain’s commitment to FT. The campus received FT designation in 2014 and continues to promote the principles listed above by offering FT certified goods around campus (including options available in IDX and the bookstore), adhering to sustainability standards outlined by Real Food Challenge and other organizations, and providing FT focused student engagement opportunities. Zoe also acknowledged that the City of Burlington has a number of FT certified businesses (e.g. City Market, Ten Thousand Villages, and Peace & Justice Center, to name a few) and advocates (e.g. Perky Planet, who are not a FT certified business but are committed to offering primarily FT certified products).
  • Zoe concluded her presentation by emphasizing what we can do to promote FT practices: be a conscious consumer, advocate, and educate.

IV.   Performance Management Process Update – Howie LeBlanco

  • Howie began his presentation by emphasizing the “why” behind reevaluating the College’s performance review processes. Based on feedback received over time, it became apparent that the current process doesn’t always inspire growth, learning, and development. The frequency of conversation does not allow for meaningful reflection, ratings are subjective/inconsistent, and employees have been requesting more engagement around the process.
  • As a result of this feedback, Howie and the work group have been exploring the “what if” around improved coaching and development practices. Based on feedback and research, the group has identified these traits of engaging and meaningful performance coaching/development processes: continuous feedforward and conversation around projects, goals, and development; focus on strengths and growth; agile and adjustable goals; coaching and reflections throughout the year; and space for collaboration.
  • Howie described where we are in the process. This year, we will pause our current performance review process that has historically been completed in Workday and use the Performance & Development Workbook that Howie and the team have developed to inform the design of the final process.
  • The Performance & Development Workbook (Google Doc) consists of these primary components and recommended actions:
    • Coaching – recommended 2-4 coaching sessions focusing on growth and development. Conversations center around one specific topic or goal. Questions will be specific to stages of the GROW model (Goal, Reality, Options, and Will)
    • Feed forward – provide leaders with questions focusing on goal(s) in progress, completed goals/reflection, and/or developing new goals
    • Micro-learning – embedded video/resources to assist both managers and their employees to have meaningful development conversations
    • Engage and empower – Use goals already in Workday, or use prompts to come up with new goals. Provide brief reflection to manager based on prompts, no length requirement
    • Action steps – reflect on coaching sessions, what next steps are necessary for reaching goals, how coaching session inspires forward progress.
  • Howie noted that the People Center will provide coaching training and drop-in sessions for managers and staff. These sessions will walkthrough what coaching is, when to coach/when not, and when coaching becomes performance based. Drop in sessions will aim to continue the conversation and practice ways to have meaningful conversations. Check out the DareU calendar for available sessions.
  • The question was asked whether coaching sessions/tutorials are designed for everyone or just managers. Howie replied that the sessions are for all employees, no separate sessions for managers. These sessions provide an intimate setting to work through the thought process behind this new focus, ensuring everyone has the same basic training and employees as well as their managers are all on the same page.
  • There was a question about goal setting, specifically, whether we are being asked to submit goals through People Center/Workday in formal way or just with our manager to establish goals/timelines? In the past, goals have been recorded in September with April being the reflection/evaluation period. Part of the focus for this new process is to have continuous, facilitated goal setting and adaptability, so there are no “formal” requirements aside from the continuous sessions/conversations employees should be having with their managers and documenting as part of this new process.
  • A member of the group asked how feedback will be gathered as a result of this prototype process. Howie explained that they will be hosting more listening sessions and collecting feedback from the working group. He also reminded folks that Oracle mechanics may look different from what we will see this year, but feedback regarding the underlying process will be important to capture.
  • Lastly, there was a question asked whether or not Faculty members who manage Staff get same training. Howie confirmed that, yes, those Faculty members will be encouraged to attend those coaching trainings and drop-in sessions.

V.   Enrollment Update and Q&A – Dr. Lisa Bunders

  • Lisa began by sharing current progress toward goals related to enrollment. Current Fall 2019 applications total 3,594 (goal 6,495). Lisa noted that it is unlikely, given where we are in the enrollment cycle, that this number will get out of the red. She attributed this to the change of marketing firms. The new firm took a more tailored approach, therefore, while we received less applications, those we did receive were of higher quality.
  • Fall 2019 app completion is at 3,305, above the 3,096 goal. This progress is a testament to the high interest indicators among applicants and their families. Lisa noted an example interest indicator might be if the student made multiple campus visits.
  • The College has offered admission to 3,070 applicants, well above the goal of 2,868. Lisa explained that the team made a conscious decision not to make offers to students who they determined may not be successful based on their application. Usually, in the past, the College has delayed sending denials, this year we did not.
  • Deposits are currently at 391, short of the 595 goal. Lisa noted that we are still ahead of where we were last year at this point and expressed that she feels good about this pool of potential students. That said, the team remains cautiously optimistic about progress. The College hosted two amazing admitted student days. Despite the first event being held during a blizzard, we saw 85% attendance. The second admitted student day brought over 1,000 people to campus, exceeding last year’s attendance by 300+.
  • Enrollment currently sits at 376, with the ultimate goal of 548. Lisa expressed that it is unlikely to meet this goal for class size and anticipates the final number being somewhere between last year’s total and this year’s goal. That is, after we account for melt (admitted students who submitted their deposit but ultimately decided not to attend).
  • One member of the group expressed appreciation toward Lisa and her team, noting that admissions events have been rewarding to be part of. The question was asked, given the change of marketing firm, whether or not the increased quality of applications has impacted the College’s acceptance rate. Lisa noted that the rate remains relatively similar to past years, which is still good. She reiterated that she is feeling good about the profile of incoming students and continues to notice an increase in interest indicators (e.g., multiple campus visits, FAFSA filings, engagement in process, etc.). Ultimately, these factors indicate a more engaged, albeit relatively smaller, pool of applicants.
  • It was asked what concerns the team has been hearing from families, or what barriers there may be to families saying “yes”. Also, is the College actively pursuing pipeline relationships? Cost continues to be a giant barrier. Competition remains the same, but Lisa has noticed more non-collegiate opportunities gaining interest. Other concerns include fit, retention, and graduation rates. Lisa also alluded to questions she has received from families regarding recent press around VT higher education institution closures. It was expressed that pathways are still intact. The College invited groups to campus from Atlanta and the Bronx, which resulted in offers sent to 12 prospective students.
  • Lisa was asked to provide detail regarding financial aid packages and any patterns that she has noticed. She expressed that financial aid continues to get more expensive due to trends in higher education. The College’s discount rate remains relatively low, however, the amount of merit being awarded continues to grow. There have been ongoing conversations around how to sustain discounting. Part of the issue is what is happening in the higher education landscape, with other schools able to award high amounts. However, Champlain remains conscious of competition and monitoring, but is not always able to match the packages of those schools. Given national demographic trends, the pool of college-age students continues to decline, making the industry more competitive than ever before.
  • The question was asked whether or not the College is thinking innovatively to come up with new strategies, programming, cost structure, etc. Lisa expressed that the college is constantly having conversations about price differentiation. The 2025 strategic planning process is also aimed at coming up with innovative ideas to help the future of the institution. Conversation about our future must also include ideas related to non-traditional students. Growth will be difficult given the demographics, specifically in New England and Midwest regions where we are projected to experience a dramatic decline of traditional, college-age students by 2025.
  • One member of the group asked about the impact New York’s free education initiatives have had on enrollment. Lisa and her team are keeping an eye on the potential impact such initiatives could have. It has forced NY private schools to discount at a higher rate, which could create increased competition for Champlain, given our heavy recruiting presence in New England and the Northeast.
  • Lastly, there was a question asked about what we can do as Staff (i.e. outside of enrollment/admissions team) to help. Lisa encouraged anyone interested in reaching out to students to help out, meeting/talking to students and their families at events on campus. There’s room for everyone to help. From a student affairs lens, retention is the primary focus. Any positive influence we can have to help retain students will strengthen the College’s numbers which has a great impact on admissions.

VI.   Closing – if you have questions, feedback, ideas – please speak to me or one of our Executive Committee members.