Staff Council Executive Committee – Meeting Updates from September and October

Hello Champlain Staff!

I am sorry I have not written in a while, but it has been a crazy busy fall thus far (as you all know very well)! I wanted to provide some quick updates/overviews of the September and October Staff Council Executive Committee meetings, so you can all have an idea of what we have been up to.

September

Our first meeting back after the summer off found us going over many housekeeping items of the Exec team (signing up to facilitate meetings; meeting dates and plans for Zoom; potential topics; etc. We also spent a good chunk of the meeting checking in with each other; what we were hearing from staff over the summer and with the start of the semester; topics that may need to be addressed by Staff Council given the ongoing pandemic. No easy answers, but we had a great conversation and continue to plan ways to support our staff colleagues now more than ever.

Another aspect of all our meetings is planning the agenda for the full Staff Council meetings that generally take place 1-2 weeks after Exec meets. We decided that we wanted to make these meetings feel more like they do in person…not Zoom webinar, but Zoom meeting so we can see each other, converse and do breakout rooms.

We discussed that the Areas of Focus we came up with last year would still be in play this year. As a reminder, these are: Recognition of Staff, Professional Development, Building Community, Strengthen Relationship with President’s Cabinet, Equity for Staff, and Communication to staff/from staff. These will continue to be top-of-mind for Exec and our committees this year.

Brief committee updates followed. Most of the committees take the summer off, so not too much to report on yet.

Finally, Vice President for Human Resources Jennifer Archambault joined us for the last 1/2 hour of the meeting. She joins us at each Exec meeting and we love having her there! Jennifer is great to work with and we have built a very strong relationship with her, and we are grateful for her continued partnership. Jennifer previewed the roll out plan for Benefits 2021, and discussed the work The People Center is focusing on this year which is really centered on how to best support faculty and staff during this time of uncertainty.

October

Our October Staff Council Executive Committee meeting saw us checking in with how things seemed to be going now that the semester was a month in, as well as what committees are up to (see their blog posts for more details). A number of topics discussed were staff communications, holidays for staff, remote versus in-person work, student support, and engagement of staff. We have been working on these items in Exec and in the committees, and continues to have conversations with members of the Leadership Team around these.

Which leads me to our guests for this meeting: President Benjamin Akande and Vice President for Human Resources Jennifer Archambault. Jennifer joins us every meeting, and President Akande will be joining us twice a semester. We really appreciated both of them taking the time to talk with us about a number of items including post-Thanksgiving plans for staff; recognizing internal promotions/job changes for staff on our blog; Provost Search; Senior Leadership Changes; and Department Evaluations. This meeting really helped us set the tone for our working relationship with President Akande, and it was incredibly positive. We can’t wait for what collaboration looks like in the future between us, the President and his leadership team! I think between the President and Jennifer, we finally feel we have great partners to move the needle on our focus areas for staff. Hooray!

Wrap Up

To conclude, I want to encourage all of you to reach out to Staff Council Executive Committee at any time (staffcouncil@champlain.edu) with ideas, thoughts, suggestions, topics, etc. you want us to address/focus on and/or look into. We are here to support ALL of you, and we know that we could all use that extra support right now.

I am incredibly grateful for each and every one of you, and for the work you do to make Champlain thrive!

Until next time,

Shaylea Scribner, Staff Council President