A league of their own
Berkeley Staff Assembly members see campus

By D. Lyn Hunter, Public Affairs


Paul Riofski, Sally Bellows

Paul Riofski, left, and Sally Bellows are members of the Berkeley Staff Assembly.
Noah Berger photo

15 January 2003 | Eight years ago, Sally Bellows, now manager of student services for the School of Public Health, was looking for new job opportunities at Berkeley, so attended a career development workshop on campus. Instructors told her that networking was vitally important, and that joining a staff organization was a great way to get connected.

“I heard about the Berkeley Staff Assembly, and in 1994 I became a member,” Bellows recalls. “And though developing campus contacts was my initial motivation for joining, I’ve stayed with the group all these years for many other reasons.”

Learning more about campus issues, the chance to improve the staff experience at the university, and the social interaction with like-minded colleagues are what Bellows finds most compelling about her membership in the Berkeley Staff Assembly, which last year celebrated its 30th anniversary.

Since its creation in 1972 — the group was originally called the Organization for Creative Management but switched to its current name in 1981 — BSA, as it is commonly known, has worked to inform staff about campus matters vital to their interests, foster an effective link between staff and administration, facilitate professional contacts among staff, and encourage their involvement in campus life.

“Being a member has exposed me to a view of the campus that I can’t get sitting in my own little cubicle,” says Bellows, who is serving as BSA coordinator this year. “The work we do is really amazing. It’s very empowering to have an impact on things I never thought I’d have control over.”

For example, during her inaugural year with BSA, Bellows helped put on the web a comprehensive career development handbook, which has guided numerous staff over the years in their quest for new skills and opportunities. The group also created the annual Excellence in Management Awards and Chancellor Chat with Staff, and helped establish the Chancellor’s Staff Advisory Committee, the Staff Ombuds Office, and the Staff Internship Program.

Membership in BSA is free for the first year, and $15 for each additional year. Those belonging to other staff organizations can join for $7.50 per year. Currently, there are approximately 250 members. They receive a newsletter, e-mail notices from administration, and announcements about the numerous programs and events the group sponsors, such as “BSA Presents,” an occasional noontime lecture series, or its annual holiday toy and food drive.

The work BSA does benefits not only its members but the general staff population as well. For example, the group recently launched PeerNet, an online resource employees can use to connect with others on a topic of mutual interest, particularly when advice is needed on work-related problems, developing new systems, or procedural protocol. A listing of current campus networking groups is available at BSA can also help facilitate the creation of new PeerNet participants, such as AdvisorNet for student affairs professionals, which was launched last year.

The assembly is managed by a coordinating committee comprised of four officers, as well as several working committees that oversee such things as events, membership, the newsletter, and career development programs. Two BSA members also serve as a senior and junior delegates to the Council of UC Staff Assemblies.

The coordinating committee meets the second and fourth Thursday of every month; all members are encouraged to attend. It is here that the group gets the chance to interact with some of the campus’s top administrators, such as the chancellor, vice chancellor for business and administrative services, and assistant vice chancellor for human resources.

“This is a time when we can offer campus leadership feedback on a variety of issues that affect staff,” says Bellows. “And it gives staff, who normally don’t have contact with senior administrators, a chance to voice their opinions.”

Improving the flow of information between staff and administrators, says Bellows, is part of what makes BSA a critical entity at Berkeley.

“We are people interested in being good campus citizens,” she says of BSA’s members. “Which doesn’t mean we’re uncritical of the way things are done, but our focus is on identifying problems and finding ways to solve them.”

For information about BSA, visit or contact Sally Bellows at 642-4339.


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