Anew Employee Council will represent virtually all non-faculty employees of the College. It will replace the Advisory Committee on Personnel Policies (ACPP), which began as an appointed subcommittee of the Affirmative Action Committee. In 1991 the ACPP became an elected board of 10 staff representatives from across campus. The ACPP’s role has traditionally been to advise Human Resources on policies and benefits that affect staff, although it has often taken on an advocacy role as well. During the economic downturn, the need for inclusion of staff in the decision making at Amherst College became unmistakable. The Advisory Budget Committee report of June 22, 2009, recommended that “structures for involving staff in decision-making at the College be strengthened.”
It has been a busy time since then: The ACPP met with the Managers’ Council and the Committee on Priority and Resources (CPR) to discuss critical issues including staff reduction without layoffs; it met with the Board of Trustees to discuss working conditions and staff morale; and it met with the Committee of Six to advocate for staff inclusion on the CPR. In a landmark vote last spring, the faculty approved adding two staff members with voting privileges to the CPR. This fall the ACPP was asked to recommend staff candidates to serve on the search committees for the HR director and the College’s new president.
During all these conversations it became a significant issue that Trustee-appointed staff had no official representation. In keeping with many of our peer institutions, the ACPP proposed creating an Employee Council—a more inclusive group representing virtually all non-faculty employees of the College, which has the potential to extend its purview over a wider range of issues of interest to staff. As the ACPP will dissolve on Dec. 31, 2010, and the Employee Council will begin its work, it is time to say farewell to a committee that has served staff well for more than 20 years. Staff can look forward to bringing more voices and votes to the Employee Council as it advises Amherst College in supporting our faculty and educating our exceptional students.