University of Minnesota representatives to the APSC meeting in Chicago were, left to right, Randy Croce, Beth Emshoff, Frank Douma, and Gavin Watt.
Academic professionals get proactive
Annual meeting in Chicago addresses benefits, job reviews, and more
By Randy Croce
Brief, January 18, 2005
Representatives from academic staff councils at eight universities gathered for their fifth annual meeting October 16-17, 2005. The Council on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) Association of Professional Staff Councils (APSC) meeting was held at the Big Ten Conference Center in Chicago.
Delegates from the University of Minnesota were Randy Croce, Frank Douma, Beth Emshoff, and Gavin Watt of the Council of Academic Professionals and Administrators (CAPA).
The group continued its proactive direction, moving beyond sharing information to developing best practices for staff personnel and governance and serving as a resource for member councils seeking to meet these goals.
Last year, the group focused on three benefits common to staff at most member institutions in an effort to foster universal adoption. Progress was reported:
- Vacation carry-over: Staff at all except Michigan State University and the University of Minnesota are now able to carry over and accumulate unused vacation days from one year to the next. The initiative made progress at Minnesota: it was presented to the University Senate as an information item and has been the subject of positive discussion with the administration.
- Tuition benefits: The effort to extend reduced or waived tuition to staff at the University of Iowa was complicated by a state law that requires payment for such costs.
- Domestic-partner benefits: In Wisconsin, comparison with other CIC institutions--reported in the local media--helped convince the provost and state governor to propose domestic-partner benefits for university employees, but the legislature rejected it. Meeting attendees expressed concern that pending definition-of-marriage proposals to state constitutions may threaten existing benefits at other universities.
This year, subcommittees were formed to research, discuss, and report to the full group on compensation/advancement and performance reviews. A subcommittee on job security is reviewing programs for relocation of "non-renewed" staff at Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin, and especially Illinois, which requires that qualified staff who have lost their jobs be interviewed (though not necessarily hired) for other university openings.
The expansion of the University of Minnesota Senate to include CAPA and Civil Service Committee representatives appears to be a catalyst for equivalent groups' greater participation in governance at other universities. At least five staff councils are actively interested in the idea and two were already discussing it with the faculty and administration on their campuses.
Delegates to the meeting affirmed guidelines for membership, officers, and governance that will secure the APSC's continuity.
The APSC has established a Web site, www.cic-apsc.wisc.edu, to share its goals and comparative information more broadly.
Randy Croce is a coordinator for the Carlson School of Management's Labor Education Service and a CAPA representative to the U Senate. Beth Emshoff, College of Human Ecology, is the CAPA vice chair for 2005-06. Frank Douma, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, chairs the CAPA committee on benefits and compensation. Gavin Watt, Environmental Health Sciences, is a CAPA member.