Staff Council Minutes 2003-2004

Staff Council Meeting 10-14-03

Attending: Aime DeGrenier, Theresa Picard, Taryn Dunaj, Donna Russell, Patricia O’Brien, Renee Sweeney, Rosanne Meczywor, and Carolyn Miller-Coulter.

Absent: Irasema Lewis, Bardee Sadlier, and Pat Serio

Aime welcomed our new staff council members Rosanne and Carolyn and asked us to introduce ourselves. They will be with us for a 2 years term.

Aime solicited any additional items for the agenda to discuss. Items added were 5th week vacation after 20 years, coat donation collection for international students, and ideas for transportation for Rays of Hope.

Committee/ SC positions were discussed and the list brought up-to-date. Pat O’Brien had previously volunteered to help Renee with communication. Irasema is sharing Faculty Meeting duty. Rosanne volunteered to be our events coordinator. Aimee is going to get more information on MCCL because we need someone to represent us on that committee. I said I would see if we could change to a bigger room – possibly 213.

Aime shared a letter she received from Sandra Suarez who is on the FLPS committee. A printed copy of the recommendation is supposed to be coming out ahead of planned forums around the date of Oct. 21st. Sandra is asking us to encourage participation in the forums in our areas. No one present at the meeting had received information or heard anything about this.

In preparation for our retreat on October 28th with Lauren Turner, we talked about a tentative agenda and any staff concerns we would like to bring to her. The following are some of the agenda items/concerns: Update on budget concerning our January cost of living increase, benefit review concerning additional vacation time after 20 years and time off at Christmas, policy concerning breaks, and reimbursement of education benefit. The retreat is 8:30 until 1:30 and includes lunch.

Aime should be able to attend at least one of the open forums. It was felt that after the retreat, we would have a better idea about an agenda for this.

Aime said it was not possible for her to attend the lunches at Willits. She proposed that someone from council help Pat co-lead. Renee will help with the lunch on November 17 and I will help with the lunch on 10/27.

Theresa shared information she collected about what other colleges are doing for vacation benefits.

The information supported going further with the research about added vacation for 20 year employees and eventually making a recommendation. It was suggested we contact local colleges.

We discussed how to proceed with coat collection for international students. Rosanne had already explained that someone from her area had approached her with the idea. She said many students come from a warm climate and will be in need of winter wear. We discussed the components of the efforts, which would be announcement, drop off and distribution. Taryn is going to get more information for Student Government and we will discuss how to go forward.

Rays of Hope walkers are in need of transportation for a large group from MHC. There are at least 60 walkers from MAC. It was suggested that the coordinators of the effort ask the President’s Office if they could pay for a bus, which would cost approximately $100.

I gave a report of the 2nd half of the Faculty Meeting, which included discussion about a change in format for Faculty Meeting. It was felt that meetings needed to be more stimulating. Faculty were also asked to propose scaled down academic classes for one to two credits during J-term.

Respectfully submitted,
Donna Russell

Notes from 11-19-03 Forum

Pat Serio, co-chair of Staff Council, started the forum by introducing staff council members present and with an update of fall activity by the Staff Council.         

•     We had 2 meetings since September and 2 half-day retreats with Lauren Turner.     
•     We have met with the MCCL faculty committee concerning the Fair Labor issue.  An update was given that the MCCL is sending a letter to President Creighton and community members will receive a copy.        
•     Pat also let the staff members know that the College is projecting a million dollar budget deficit for this year and we have been asked to think broadly about ways to save money and raise revenue.        
•     Staff Council has also asked for a meeting with the SIS executive committee to get information on the impact staff can expect as the new Student Information System is implemented.

Lauren Turner, Director of Human Resources, had staff members introduce themselves.  She spoke on Dental coverage, FLEX Spending Account, and a new initiative that would provide a retirement health insurance plan.

•     Dental – Mount Holyoke has committed to providing a Dental plan in July 2004.  Human Resources is reviewing information from vendors.  Bardie Sadlier from Staff Council is working with the committee.  Answering a question from the audience, Lauren said that staff who had a FLEX Spending Account and who elect dental coverage could change their flex elections at open enrollment in May 2004.
•     FLEX Spending Accounts – at this time there is about 25% of employees participating in flexible spending account program.  Lauren said that the introduction of a new list of acceptable, over-the-counter items should spur more to participate.
•     Health Insurance in retirement – Many employees are interested in finding a way to get affordable health insurance in retirement. A group of Higher Education institutions, funded through a Mellon research grant, has looked into this issue.  The process is similar to the way TIAA was created as a retirement plan for Higher Ed institutions.  Irasema from Staff Council, Lauren and Michele Markley, a Faculty member, are attending a forum at Harvard to discuss this.  The idea is to set up a collaborative that could establish a contract with an insurer to provide quality, comprehensive cost-effective coverage.  The employees would voluntarily contribute post-tax money while working and the money (and interest) would be tax free when used for health insurance.  Institutional Funding (given the current climate) is a the hitch.  One way to solve this would be for the ½ % that was an increase in the college contribution to retirement fairly recently could be used as the institutional funding for this initiative.  The exciting part of this plan is that you could live anywhere in the country and use the plan.  Lauren said that she met with the faculty conference committee and faculty planning and budget and that they are interested in this proposal.  Look for more information on this possible benefit.

Lauren took out the Plan for 2010 and encourages staff to read the plan.  She went quickly over the 8 sections of the Plan.

1.    Academic – looking at the outcome of a Mount Holyoke education and see if changes need to be made to ensure that students graduate with the skills needed.
2.    Curricular/Co-Curricular – provide students to develop as a whole person, not just academically.
3.    Engaging with the World – what needs to be implemented to ensure they get the skills to live in the global community.
4.    Renewing Campus – next area is the residence halls and landscape of the campus. Lauren talked about the new Ice Skating Rink that will be located by the patio outside of Blanchard and that it will be the size of Rockefeller Center rink.  We thought that it should open with an Ice Sculpture like the sculpture at Rockefeller Center.
5.    Connections Beyond the Gate – encouraging connections with alums, parents, 5 colleges.
6.    Sustaining Strong Resources – This section is talking about the human resources of the college and speaks directly to staff.  We need to find ways to turn the words in this section into actions. This is already happening with the Orientation Committee forming an orientation process for incoming staff.  Programs already in place are Art at Work and Tuesday Staff Performances in Blanchard.  Kris from Student Programs was applauded for her work on the staff performance series.
7.    Visibility – Patricia VandenBerg has been working on this and most staff have met with her.
8.    Assessment Section – value assessment.

Lauren talked about the budget. The salary increase in January is happening. Although we ended FY 2003 with a balanced budget, we knew that this year would be tough.  We currently are projecting a million dollar deficit in this budget year.    Staff council and all departments are thinking about sustainable changes that can be made.  Position evaluation should be done when a position is vacant.

Lauren then opened up the floor to questions.

•     What is happening with the ombudsperson search?  It is felt that this position needs to be filled as soon as it can.  Training in conflict resolution is something that one staff member (who deals with students) said is missing from campus.  Lauren let the audience know that a search committee has been formed.  It includes 2 staff, 2 faculty and 2 students along with Linda Samano from Human Resources.  This is a working committee that will look at over 100 resumes which have come in.  A broader part of the community will be involved in the other stages of the search.  These committee members are from the representative bodies of Staff Council, SGA and Faculty Meeting.
•     Parking – there were several parking questions at the forum on Tuesday so Paul Ominsky was there to answer any questions.  Handicapped parking at Ciruti was questioned.  Spaces were changed from 15 minute parking to handicapped this year and if some temporarily disabled staff recover, would spaces be changed back?   Paul said that these spaces are part of the handicapped parking for Ciruti, Central Services and Blanchard.  He believes that these spaces will remain handicapped parking.  He reminded us that parking is slowly moving to the exterior of campus.
•     Blanchard – we talked about lines at lunch and whether it is still difficult for staff to get lunch.  Students are really utilizing Blanchard for lunch on the meal plan.  Grab & Go and the menu at Uncommon Grounds have helped.  Kris Bergbom from Student Programs reminded us that the Green Room on the lower level (off the stage) is reserved for staff from 11:30 – 1:30.
•     A staff member wanted to know which organizations that staff would be donating to at Winterfest this year.  The committee met last week and food for local kitchens seemed to be most needed item this year.  Donations of non-perishables will be collected for Kate’s Kitchen, Open Pantry and the Western Mass Food Bank.  Winterfest will be on Dec. 17th 11:30 – 1:30.  Invitations will be coming.

Staff Council Meeting 01-13-04

Attending: Teresa Picard, Renee Sweeney, Donna Russell, Bardee Sadlier, Aime DeGrenier, Taryn Dunaj, Roseanne Meczywor, and Carolyn Miller-Coulter

Review of minutes from 11/11/03 meeting with Lauren Turner passed.

Budget:  there is a lot of anxiety over the news of the 15% cut over three years issue.

SIS:  the meeting with the SIS Steering Committee and the Staff Council will be 1/21/04 at 10am in Blanchard room 318. The groups will mostly discuss the impact the new system will have on staff. Please be sure to bring any questions that you or your department may have.

Packages to U.S. Troops:  Donna will keep the Staff Council updated on if supplies can be sent to troops overseas and what exactly this organization needs from the Staff Council- endorsement, advertising, etc.

Ombudsperson:  Donna reported that 30 resumes have been reviewed. Once all the committee members are back on campus, candidates (exact number unknown at this time) will be brought to campus for interviews.

Respectfully submitted,
Bardee Sadlier

Staff Council Meeting 02-10-04

Attending: Teresa Picard, Renee Sweeney, Bardee Sadlier, Aime DeGrenier, Pat Serio, Taryn Dunaj, Pat O’Brien, Roseanne Meczywor, and Carolyn Miller-Coulter


Bardee Sadlier announced that the Athletics Department would not be sponsoring a varsity softball team beginning next academic year (2004-2005).


It was decided that Mary Jo Maydew should be invited to be the next Staff Council Luncheon speaker. Pat O’Brien and Renne Sweeney would only need a week to get the flyers out and publicize the event. Information would also be included that any staff member wanting to ask an anonymous question could email any one of the Staff Council members who would present the question to Mary Jo Maydew (the author of the question would remain anonymous).


Aime DeGrenier urged all Staff Council members to concentrate on communication with staff in the member’s area(s). All Staff Council members should work to keep lines of communication open and remind all staff that the Staff Council is here to listen and help.


Sarafeena Youngdahl-Lombardi (’04) met with the Staff Council to discuss the Student Coalition for Action promotion of the Code of Conduct for Mount Holyoke College. The Code of Conduct was deemed “unnecessary” and “not wanted” by staff of the College last year and again this past fall. Sarah explained that the SCA was not trying to impose a Code of Conduct on MHC staff but for the College when contracting outside companies. The SCA would like the College to only hire companies for projects that have outsourced and/or contracted workers classified as employees and who make at least $12.00/hour.

Respectfully submitted,
Bardee Sadlier

Staff Council Meeting 03-09-04

Attending: Teresa Picard, Bardee Sadlier, Aime DeGrenier, Pat Serio, Taryn Dunaj, Irasema Lewis, Donna Russell, and Roseanne Meczywor.

Agenda: The difficult situation that occurred on 2/19/04 involving a number of MHC community members.

The Staff Council met and discussed the role of Staff Council in the process of investigation, solution, and support of all involved. The Staff Council believes our role is to be an advocate and support to the non-union staff at the College.  We need to discuss, outline and publish the process of Staff Council notification when any incident which involves MHC Staff members occurs.  This process needs to be confirmed by Senior Staff and Human Resources.

The Staff Council is not a legislative body and cannot make statements in support or against the actions of staff but will help to make sure the proper procedures and policies are followed when staff members are involved.

The Staff Council (or members of) will be present both at the rally on 3/10/04 and the all-campus forum called for by the President on 3/10/04.

The Staff Council appreciates those in the MHC community who reached out to us and to our colleagues during this difficult time.  We are confident that the administration will act swiftly and justly in their investigation.

Respectfully submitted,
Bardee Sadlier

Staff Council Meeting 04-13-04

Attending: Teresa Picard, Bardee Sadlier, Aime DeGrenier, Pat Serio, Taryn Dunaj, Donna Russell, Pat O’Brien, Renee Sweeney, Carolyn Miller-Coulter, and Roseanne Meczywor.

Budget meeting with Lauren Turner and Jan Albano

Lauren Turner and Jan Albano met with the Staff Council to discuss the 2004-2005 budget and the facts about it.

These are the facts:
    •     The final budget  will be presented for approval to the Board of Trustees in early May. Senior Staff continues to make adjustments until that time.
    •     Health Insurance costs will be increasing again.
    •     Blue Cross/Blue Shield Point of Service -- 27.5%
    •     Blue Cross/Blue Shield HMO Blue -- 16.7%
    •     CIGNA Point of Service and HMO -- 31.1%
    •     Lauren is still in negotiations with the companies.
    •     The College WILL be adding a dental plan next year. It will be through Guardian Insurance with a single coverage at approx. $4.00/month and family coverage at approx. $30.00/month.
    •     The College is likely to defer salary increases next year that may be similar to what was done last year.
    •     Lauren strongly encourages employees with possible financial hardship due to the health insurance increases and salary increase deferral to meet with her.
    •     Staff Council will organize one or two “Coffee Breaks” in Blanchard over the next few weeks that will address budget issues and rumor control.
Meeting with the new Ombudsperson Adrianne Andrews

Adrianne Andrews stopped by the Staff Council meeting to put faces to names. Adrianne also explained/clarified her role as Ombudsperson as a fully confidential and independent source to all members of the MHC community. She offered her services in any way she could be of help to the Staff Council and to all MHC staff members.
Staff Council Scholarship

Donna and Carolyn will work organizing the information, mailings, applications, etc. for the Staff Council scholarship. The scholarship is a minimum of $200.00 awarded to a high school senior son, daughter, or other dependant of a MHC staff member (the recipient cannot be receiving any other college financial assistance from MHC). Pat O’Brien will get labels for flyers for all staff.
Benefits Fair

The Benefits Fair will be held on May 13, 2004. Pat Serio and Pat O’Brien will be organizing the Staff Council’s participation.
President’s Luncheon

Renee will talk with Irasema to find a date for the President’s Luncheon and then make up and send out flyers. Pat O’Brien will get labels for flyers for all staff.

Nominations and ballots will be sent via Campus Mail. Nominations will be mailed out soon and returned by Friday, 4/23. Ballots will be out by Friday, 4/30 and will be due back by Friday, 5/7. The Staff Council will meet on 5/11 (regular meeting date) to count ballots and inform winners. Pat O’Brien will get labels.

This year’s final Staff Council meeting has been scheduled for 5/25 at 1:30pm to welcome the new members and say thank you to the outgoing members.

Respectfully submitted,
Bardee Sadlier

Staff Council Meeting 05-11-04

Attending: Teresa Picard, Bardee Sadlier, Aime DeGrenier, Pat Serio, Pat O’Brien, Renee Sweeney, Carolyn Miller-Coulter, and Roseanne Meczywor.

Counting Ballots

A total of 180 ballots were returned for next year’s staff council members (out of 681 total staff). The winners in DI & II, D III & IV, and D VI will be called by Aime and Pat Serio to confirm they want the position and tell them about the last meeting, the President’s Lunch, and committee vacancies. The new members will then be introduced at the President’s Lunch.

Scholarship Review

Applications will be available at the Staff Council table during the Benefits Fair.
Benefits Fair and Schedule

The Benefits Fair will be Thursday, May 13, 10:30am-3:30pm.

The Staff Council table will have applications for the scholarship, Staff Council pens with the web address on them, and two baskets to raffle off (from Deb Harbison).

11.30-12.30-Pat O./Taryn
12.30- 1.30-Aime/Pat S.
1.30 - 2.30-Teresa/Rosanne
2.30 - 3.30-Renee/Carolyn

President’s Lunch

New Staff Council members will be introduced. Last count of RSVPs was 111 and Rachel Osborne from Willits says room will hold 170.
Committee Vacancies
    •     2004-2005 Committee members (current council members)
    •     Pat Serio
    •     Pat Serio
    •     Faculty Mtgs
    •     Communication/email Carolyn Miller-Coulter
    •     Human Resources
    •     Drug & Alcohol
    •     MCCL
    •     Events Coordinator Roseanne Meczywor
    •     Web Site/Secretary Bardee Sadlier

Aime will talk with current members not at the meeting to see if other spots can be filled.

For the next meeting, all new members’ names will be on a ballot for co-chair. Any new member can ask for his/her name to be removed if he/she does not wish to be co-chair. At the end of the meeting, a vote will be taken by all members to determine the next co-chair.
Staff Council Budget

The staff council budget is $750.00 which includes all events and all copying costs. The costs of making copies of flyers, etc. has become very high and we are looking at ways to save to money. The issue is trying to reach all staff members on campus which is a monumental task. One idea proposed is to make the Staff Council website the main mechanism for information for staff. This will help save money on flyers to all staff members. Flyers will be sent to each department to be posted that will advertise the event and give the website.
Next Year (2004-2005) Projects

We will look into reducing the cost of copying with flyers as well as looking into more detail putting the nominations of new members on-line (including a brief description of each nominee).

We will look into the flow of information to the Staff Council and from the Council in more detail and how we can better improve it.

We will update the counts for each division.

The next and last meeting will be May 25, 2004, from 1:30pm-3:00pm, in Blanchard, room #213.

Respectfully submitted,
Bardee Sadlier