To the Editor
Posted January 19, 2000
As the university struggles to maintain an effective administrative workforce in the face of rapid technological change, limited funding, and a robust employment market, staff members have an unprecedented opportunity to help re-shape the university as a workplace. In the past it has been clear to staff that their concerns were low on the campus priority list. Now employers throughout the country are increasingly forced to compete for skilled workers. As the university strives to become an employer of choice, staff concerns are much higher on the agenda.
The signs of change are clear. Chancellor Berdahl understands that an effective administrative operation is essential to the campus's ability to perform its educational and research functions. Improving business procedures and recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce are high on his priority list. And Vice Chancellor Horace Mitchell has appointed Sandra Haire as assistant vice chancellor for human resources with a mandate "to transform human resources at Berkeley."
Over the years I've heard my fellow staff members complain that they were not kept informed and that their input was not valued. In my role as coordinator of the Berkeley Staff Assembly, I have been in contact with senior campus officials in recent months, and I have this to report: This administration is actively looking for ways to tap the knowledge and experience of staff, to get staff input on the complex issues the campus faces, and to improve the work life of staff. This administration is also actively working to strengthen communication, to keep staff on all levels of the organization informed and involved. There are no easy fixes, but there is a willingness to listen, and a will to address problems. To staff who aren't actively involved in this dialogue, I have to tell you, you're missing a great opportunity.
Would you be willing to serve on a focus group? Suggest program topics? Help start a skill building network? Provide "best practices" examples? Serve as liaison to a campus committee and help keep others informed? What could you do to make this a better place to work? Now is a great time to start. I invite you to join BSA or one of the other staff organizations.
The Berkeley Staff Assembly serves as a conduit for information between staff and the administration. We offer programs on topics of current interest to staff, serve as members and liaisons to a variety of campus-wide committees, sponsor an awards program where staff recognize good managers and a scholarship program to increase staff training opportunities. BSA is not an employee union and does not represent staff on issues covered by collective bargaining units or contracts. It is open to all non-academic emplyees. For information, contact me at stsmith@uclink4 or 632-4405.