Fall 2018 Welcome Letter

Dear Colleagues,

On behalf of the Employee Council, we welcome you to a new academic year. We hope that everyone had a fantastic summer with time for rest and recuperation.

We look forward to continually strengthening our collaborations with staff and faculty colleagues across campus. In this spirit we are resuming our open Coffee Hours! Coffee Hours are an informal opportunity to meet Employee Council reps and colleagues from across camps to socialize and discuss campus issues that matter to you. We had a great group at our first coffee hour earlier this week. The second coffee hour will take place on Thursday, September 27, 10-11am at Frost Café. Enjoy a free coffee and muffin courtesy of the council.

The beginning of the academic year is also a transitional time for the council. This September we welcome new representatives in five precincts and thank our departing representatives who have completed their terms for their service:

2018-2019 Employee Council Representatives and Precincts

New Representatives:

Suzie Bradley - Library and Museums
Anita Rao - Information Technology
Kelly Mannix - Athletics
Maida Aviles - Facilities Admin
Jxhn Martin - Student Services

Returning Representatives:
Kathy Couch - Academic
Stephanie Orion - ADC
Katherine Duke - Administrative Services
Kenzie Brusso - Admissions and Financial Aid
Malou Hafner - Advancement
Doralinda Puente - Dining Services
Heidi Kellogg - Facilities Custodial
Liz Gallinaro - Facilities Services

Departing Council Representatives:
K.M. Carley - Library and Museums
Joshua Baum - IT
Jen Hughes - Athletics
Theresa Dufresne - Facilities Admin
Robyn Rogers - Student Services

Note Taker Position Open: At this time we are in search of a new note taker. We thank Ally LaForge, our departing note taker, for her dedication to the council as she moves on to pursue graduate school. The position requires taking detailed notes at our monthly meetings, editing, and posting the council’s minutes online. This internal position is open to casuals, exempt employees, and hourly staff who work 35 hrs/week or less. Interested staff should read the job description information and send a cover letter and resume to employeecouncil@amherst.edu

Minutes: To keep you informed about the council’s recent activity, our June and August meeting minutes are now posted on our website (login required).

Open Staff Meeting: On behalf of President Martin we invite you to an all-staff meeting on Thursday, September 20, from 10:30 to 11:45 a.m.in Johnson Chapel. President Martin looks forward to welcoming new staff, updating staff on the progress we have made on our priorities, and discussing plans for the year ahead.

As always, you can reach out to us with your comments, suggestions, and questions through our online contact form.

Best wishes for a great year,
The Employee Council

Did you know? September 2018 is a Health Care Premium Holiday Month! As announced on page 2 of this year’s open enrollment newsletter, there will be no health care deductions in September.

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End-of-the-Year Letter from Employee Council

June 21, 2018

Dear Colleagues,

As we conclude the academic year, we would like to share a summary of some of the Employee Council’s work. In January of 2018 we released our updated platform to reflect our progress and define our goals for the year. Here are some highlights:

Council Communication and Participation: This year we continued our efforts to maintain an active, accountable, and easily accessible public presence on campus. We updated our website, became more active on Facebook, held open Coffee Hours for staff in Frost Café and the Powerhouse, hosted the “Share the Love” staff appreciation event in February, and held a popsicle social after the all-staff meeting in June. We hope that it’s easy to reach out to your representatives when you need to, and that we’re transparent in sharing our work.

Staff Survey: Much of the council’s work this year surrounded the Staff Survey. The survey was a priority because it informs nearly all of the other items on our platform. This year we were able to provide input that helped to shape the topics and questions that would be included. In the fall we held special open Coffee Hours to support the survey and partnered with the survey committee to incentivize participation. Much of the survey’s development and successful implementation came from you: from your comments to the council, your participation in the pre-survey focus groups, and the high rate of turnout for the survey itself. We easily surpassed our participation goal, with a total of 725 staff completing the survey, and earned an extra paid day off. We’re happy that the survey was conducted thoroughly by an outside consultant, and that there are already initiatives underway to improve the staff experience based on its results. Among other initiatives, the college has established three post-survey working groups composed of staff volunteers to advise the overall survey response, develop rewards and recognition programs, and improve the Performance Management Process. The survey also became an opportunity for the Employee Council to create a closer and more trusting partnership with administration. We look forward to continuing this partnership as we strive to improve Amherst as a community and workplace.

Benefits: We continued to advocate for improvements to staff benefits and have seen progress in a few areas. On May 31, Kevin Weinman, Chief Administrative and Financial Officer, announced an increase to the grant-in-aid benefit, an extension of professional development benefits, and savings in healthcare plan costs approved for the coming fiscal year. We are happy that Amherst has studied its benefits offerings and made steps to improve these areas.

Casual Employment: Moving forward, casual employment will remain an important part of our platform. Last year we submitted a detailed study with recommendations for addressing casual employment issues to the Office of Human Resources and the benefits committee. These are recommendations that we will continue to advocate for strongly. We were very pleased to learn recently that some casual positions will be converted to regular, benefitted positions for the next fiscal year. We hope that progress in converting additional positions will continue in coming fiscal cycles.

We thank you for your support and participation in Employee Council’s activities this year. Feel free to contact us anytime at employeecouncil@amherst.edu or via our online Contact Us form.


The 2017-2018 Employee Council

Precinct #1 Academic: Kathy Couch
Precinct #2 ADCs: Stephanie Orion
Precinct #3 Administrative Services: Katherine Duke
Precinct #5 Advancement: Malou Hafner
Precinct #6 Athletics: Jen Hughes
Precinct #7 Dining Services: Doralinda Puente
Precinct #8 Facilities Admin: Theresa Dufresne
Precinct #9 Facilities Custodial: Heidi Kellogg
Precinct #10 Facilities Services: Liz Gallinaro
Precinct #11 IT: Josh Baum
Precinct #12 Library/Museums: K. M. Carley
Precinct #13 Student Services: Robyn Rogers

All Staff Meeting - June 4th, 2018 (Audio)

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The President's Office and Employee Council hosted an all-staff meeting on Monday, June 4th at 1:30pm in Johnson Chapel. The meeting included an update from the Employee Council, a recap of the year with President Biddy Martin, a brief financial update from Chief Financial and Administrative Officer Kevin Weinman, reports from the staff survey working groups, and a Q&A. 

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

Do you have a question for your representative?

Thoughts about being a staff member at Amherst?

Suggestions for how the Employee Council can improve?

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