Frequently Asked Questions about the Employee Council

What is the Employee Council?

We are a council of 13 non-faculty employees elected by staff to represent our colleagues from 13 precincts across campus. We broaden and strengthen lines of communication to help staff participate in policymaking at the College. We work toward greater visibility for staff; a more supportive work environment; and a sense of community among staff, students, faculty, and senior administrators. Our platform highlights our current main areas of concern, including the recent staff survey, the JCCP, the status of casual employees, benefits, and the Performance Management Process.

How can I stay informed about and involved with the Council’s work?

  • Read the minutes from our monthly meetings
  • Use our web form, or contact a representative, to share your suggestions, questions and concerns
  • Follow us on Facebook
  • Attend our Coffee Hours and other events on campus
  • Nominate yourself and/or others from your precinct to run for seats on the Council
  • Vote in your precinct’s elections

Why should I consider serving on the Council?

  • To develop your skills in organization, communication, and leadership
  • To get to know staff from other offices and departments
  • To learn more about issues affecting the College and its employees
  • To speak up for yourself and your colleagues
  • To help make Amherst a better place to work

As a Council representative, what are the time commitments and responsibilities?

  • The Council meets once a month for two hours, typically over lunch in Valentine.
  • Every member is expected to serve on at least one committee or working group, requiring an average of an additional 1–2 hours monthly.
  • Serving as an officer (Chair, Co-Chair, Secretary/Treasurer, Committee/Working Group Chair) requires an additional 2–4 hours monthly, on average.
  • We understand that some employees have more flexibility in their jobs to attend additional meetings than others. We do not and cannot expect Council members to attend additional meetings if doing so causes difficulty for them in their jobs.
  • A term on the Council lasts 2 years. A rep may serve no more than 2 consecutive terms (4 years total).

 What are the different committees and working groups?

  • COMMUNICATIONS COMMITTEE — Manages the Council’s publicity and communications with the greater Amherst community.
  • ELECTIONS COMMITTEE — Seeks nominations of Council representatives. Conducts elections of representatives annually or as needed. Keeps constituent precinct membership lists up-to-date to ensure that staff across campus are appropriately represented on the Council. Recommends staff to serve on College committees, who are then voted on by the full Council.
  • EVENTS — Designs and implements Council events, such as the Valentine’s Day celebration in the Powerhouse and the annual welcome luncheon for new Council members.
  • GOVERNANCE COMMITTEE — Reviews Council bylaws and recommends changes as appropriate. Conducts an orientation program for new members, and creates and maintains a guide for them.
  • HUMAN RESOURCES WORKING GROUP — Meets regularly with Human Resources. Recommends changes in and offers feedback about benefits, personnel policies and all aspects of the employment environment. Brings constituent concerns to Human Resources.
  • COMMITTEE ON PRIORITIES AND RESOURCES (CPR) — A representative from the Employee Council attends CPR meetings. The CPR offers advice on reviewing and ranking FTE requests for staff with each budget cycle. Increasingly, and largely from the input of staff on the committee, the CPR has also taken up review of staff benefits.
  • EMPLOYEE RECOGNITION COMMITTEE — As a result of the staff survey, a new committee has been established tasked with developing the employee recognition program for future years.

Staff Survey Participation Initiative

Dear Colleagues,

As we hope you are aware, you will be invited to take Amherst’s first-ever staff survey beginning next Monday, October 30.

Our collective participation is critical to the success of the survey and future initiatives that will result based on its findings.  To that end, the Employee Council is hosting additional coffee hours over the next two weeks to help facilitate participation and provide a space for you to ask questions about the survey process. 

In partnership with the Survey Advisory Committee, we are pleased to share the news that the College will be offering a significant incentive for participation. If we can collectively reach 600 completed surveys, the College will close on Friday, January 12, 2018 which will result in an additional paid holiday for all employees. (Arrangements will be made for staff who may be required to work that day to ensure alternative time off.)  Check out the updated FAQs, or stop by one of our coffee hours for details about this incentive and the survey itself.

You will receive an email on Monday, October 30 inviting you to take the confidential survey electronically, and it will remain available for two (2) weeks.  However, if you prefer to use a paper version, please join us during one of our coffee hours, visit Human Resources, or reach out directly to any EC representative, who can make sure you receive one.

Click here for the coffee hour schedule and more information about how to access a paper survey.

We urge you to take the survey, make your voice heard, and be a part of building the future of the staff culture at Amherst.


The Employee Council


Employee Council Statement on College Staff Survey

October 17, 2017 

Dear Colleagues,

We write today in support of Biddy’s recent announcement about the staff survey, which was part of the Employee Council's platform last year. This year, the survey continues to be a part of the council's advocacies with an emphasis on maximizing staff participation.

Last spring, we put forward many questions on your behalf. The survey committee has been very helpful in addressing our concerns and in partnering with the council to determine the best path forward. Here is a link to the survey FAQ.

Once the survey is launched, we will be back in touch with some initiatives to help facilitate participation. You’ll find us at our usual coffee hours where you can ask questions about the survey (or anything else). Please feel free to reach out to your EC rep directly or use our online form.

We are excited that this initiative has come into action and grateful to those who have made it possible. Upon completion of the data collection, we will continue to work with the administration to ensure that this process will guide meaningful progress in our community.

Please join us in making employee voices heard and ultimately, making Amherst a stronger, more inclusive community.


The Employee Council

End-of-Year Letter from Employee Council, 2016-17

June 22, 2017

Fellow Staff,

As another academic year comes to a close, we write to summarize the Employee Council’s efforts. As described in our welcome email from the fall, the Employee Council (EC) prepared for a busy year. We are pleased to report progress on a number of fronts:

Public Presence: The EC strove to be a more publicly active, visible, and accountable committee this year:

    • Revised website
    • Improved circulation of meeting minutes
    • Created a Facebook page (Follow us!)
    • Renewed connections with other committees/constituencies
    • Instituted Coffee Hours in Frost Café
    • Created the EC’s first public Platform

    Climate Survey: For some years the EC has been asking for a staff climate survey as a routine institutional tool for assessing staff concerns and well-being at Amherst. A survey is planned for this fall, and the EC heartily encourages all staff to participate.

    Retirement: Three years ago a constituent contacted his representative to ask the EC to review the college’s retirement contribution policy. Thus began three years of research and discussion, within the EC itself and between the EC and HR, the faculty-led Committee on Priority and Resources (CPR), and the college’s Benefits Committee. That collaborative effort resulted in a more generous policy, with additional gains targeted primarily at lower income employees.

    Casuals: From year to year, the EC routinely receives constituent concerns about casual employees at Amherst. This year the council began researching how casual employment at Amherst compares to our peers. We learned that Amherst is a bit out of step. While casuals compose anywhere from 13 to 23% of our peers’ respective workforces, Amherst's is just shy of 35%.  Moreover, we have a sizeable number of casuals on campus who fall outside of the college's own definition of what qualifies a position as legitimately casual. Thus, the EC has submitted a recommendation that asks the college to define an additional category of employment for long-term casual employees, a category that is accompanied with a concrete timeline to convert them to regular employees. We’ve also proposed a number of low-cost recommendations intended to address morale and inclusion concerns for casuals (e.g., access to the gym, regular computer upgrades, use of IDs in Valentine, and real parking stickers). We look forward to continuing our work on this issue next year.

    Thank you for your ongoing support and please do contact us if you have comments, suggestions, or questions.

    Finally, we would like to acknowledge departing council members. Jessica Gifford, Denise McGoldrick, Ramon Rodriguez, and Paul Sorrentino – thank you for your service and your time. We will miss you next year!

    Happy summer everyone,
    The 2016-17 Employee Council

    Joshua Baum, Information Technology, Co-Chair
    K.M. Carley (“Carley”),
    Frost Library, CPR Committee
    Katherine Duke
    , Office of Communications, Elections Chair
    Cindy Dumais-Holubowich
    , Religious & Spiritual Life, Note Taker
    Mary Foulk,
    Advancement, HR Working Group
    Liz Gallinaro,
    Facilities, HR Working Group
    Jessica Gifford
    , Health Education, Diversity Task Force
    Malou Hafner
    , Advancement, HR Working Group
    Denise McGoldrick
    , Health Education, CPR/Elections/Recognition
    Doralinda Puente
    , Dining Services, Events Chair, Elections
    Ramon Rodríguez
    , Custodial Services, HR Working Group
    Tracie Rubeck
    , History, Chair
    Paul Sorrentino
    , Religious & Spiritual Life, HR Working Group Chair

    All Staff Meeting with President Biddy Martin - June 9, 2017 (Audio)

    All Staff Meeting 6-9-2017.MP3

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    President Biddy Martin held an open staff meeting on Friday, June 9, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. in Johnson Chapel. President Martin spoke about the college's mission, leadership, and heeding calls for transparency and levity. Kevin Weinman, Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, also gave an update on the college's finances.

    Do you have a question for your representative?

    Thoughts about being a staff member at Amherst?

    Suggestions for how the Employee Council can improve?

    Contact Us!