Minutes: October 6, 2006
LSA Minutes from Dean’s Meeting
The meeting was held in the Center for British and Irish Studies and lasted almost 2 hours. It was attended by approximately 30 staff members.
The Library Staff Association began the meeting as an open forum for staff to ask Dean Williams questions. We had prepared questions in advance in case there were no on the spot questions. However, staff attending the meeting had questions, and the prepared questions were given to the Dean for a written response.
The Dean opened the meeting by asking why LSA and staff had to pay for food for the meeting. He was unhappy with this and said the library should be paying for this. LSA responded that it had tried get funding for the refreshments, but were told the rules had changed and it may not be possible. The Dean said he would look into finding a solution to this so LSA and staff do not have to pay for refreshments at these meetings.
Staff at the meeting were concerned about the fact that they were being encouraged to accept that the future is unknown and to be prepared to deal with any coming changes. Staff want a better sense of the future, job status, and job descriptions. They would also like a timeline for upcoming changes and for there to be more open communication.
This became the impetus for a discussion regarding the widespread staff belief that intra-Libraries communication has become worse. This has been seen between faculty and staff, within departments and between departments. Some staff feel that the faculty are making more of the decisions and changes and the staff are told to make it happen. Staff feel that they need to be a bigger part of the decision making process; they want to give input and know when the change is coming. There was a general feeling that staff are presented with changes and projects without very much notice. Also, some staff feel like they are not encouraged to ask about upcoming changes and projects.
Some staff feel that faculty are afraid to include them in the decision-making process because of the misconception that staff are resistant to change. The faculty therefore make the decisions and just expect staff to adapt and move on. At the meeting, people said that they are not resistant to change; many have extensive experience and want to bring ideas to the table. The Dean asked if departments still have staff meetings and was told they do happen in some departments but that the communication is poor (in some departments). Many meetings have are held more for reporting purposes rather than for discussion and communication. Also, some departments don’t allow for agenda items to be easily added to a meeting; this makes staff feel like they can’t bring up issues or topics.
The Dean asked what solutions could take place. The Dean will go to Cabinet and the Library Council to discuss the growing divide between faculty and staff. There needs to be greater communication between all employees, not only about changes and projects, but also about the growing divide. The Dean suggested that LSA get reports from the University Staff Council to gauge staff feeling across campus. Also, staff meetings in departments need to be altered so that they are venues for open discussion instead just forums for reporting to staff.
Another topic raised by staff was the concern that when staff members retire or leave, they either are not replaced or the replacement process takes a long time. The Dean explained that it does take a long time to replace some staff due to rising salary rates. The salary of the new position must meet market rates and it can take a long time to find the money for that. When the Libraries do not receive funding increases from the campus or the state, Administrative Services to get creative in order to fund the position. Also, the Dean mentioned that no new staff or faculty lines have been funded in over a decade. All reallocations and other pay increases have to be funded within the existing budget allocations. As an example, three vacant faculty positions were left unfilled in order to pay for the BCR inventory. Now, there is only enough funding in these three faculty lines to pay for two new faculty.
Concerns were also brought up regarding the upcoming R2 Consultants visit. Staff want to know what questions they are going to be asked. Some staff feel they cannot question why R2 is coming. The Dean said he would ask the R2 working group what R2 will be asking staff and that he will be sure that all employees are notified about these questions.
Finally, the Dean was asked how he likes the new CU Chancellor, Bud Peterson. The Dean said he had met with him twice and believes that you get what you see. He is very pleased with him so far and is happy that the Chancellor has given attention to the Libraries. It is significant that the Chancellor has visited the Libraries twice since he has informed other departments on campus that he is not yet ready to visit them.
After the question/discussion session with the Dean, LSA took a few minutes to tell new staff about itself and also about the upcoming elections. A member of the Library Advisory Board described what that committee does and the Campbell Award Committee was also explained. Each of these committees has 2 staff positions open. LSA itself has up to 4 positions open. LSA will be sending out election notices, nominations and ballots in the next few weeks. Elections will take place in mid-November.
Minutes reported by Brittany Reed, LSA representative