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Staff Senate recap

Members host Administration leaders for a Q&A session on finances, anti-racism efforts and more.

By Lindsey Coulter

September 10, 2020

Aerial photo of JSSB and AES building.Staff Senate members welcomed Larry Sampler, chief operating officer and vice president for Administration; George Middlemist, Ph.D., associate vice president for Administration and chief financial officer; and Stacy Dvergsdal, associate vice president for Human Resources, to their meeting Wednesday. The Administration leaders answered a number of questions related to COVID-19 financial impacts, spring 2021 planning and more.

Sharing a general update, Sampler noted that current health, safety and campus-access protocols will likely remain in place through the end of the year, expressing his gratitude to all Roadrunners for their cooperation and compliance. He also addressed calls from within the University community to disband the Auraria Police Department and noted that efforts are underway to develop an oversight committee composed of campus stakeholders to ensure that campus police are trained in and operating according to best practices. He added that communication about campus decisions will remain open and consistent and encouraged Roadrunners to follow progress by attending the meetings of the President’s Cabinet, Budget Recommendation Committee and Board of Trustees.

Middlemist and Dvergsdal then fielded questions submitted by staff members from across the University related to anti-racism work. The two leaders outlined efforts to recognize personal biases and to use their roles to challenge systems of oppression. In response to concerns about diversity efforts being derailed or diminished by the University’s financial challenges, Dvergsdal shared Human Resources’ efforts to refocus its mission on diversity, equity and inclusion while continuing to innovate processes and policies.

“Diversity, equity and inclusion should be the foundation of everything we do, and there should be accountability individually and as a community,” Dvergsdal said. “Making sure people feel valued, included and that they belong, we all have a responsibility in this work.”

Speaking to workload and work-life-balance concerns, Middlemist and Dvergsdal encouraged all employees to continue utilizing vacation time and tuition benefits. They also urged supervisors to lead with flexibility and compassion as employees juggle multiple responsibilities and concerns through the COVID-19 pandemic. The leaders further invited departments and teams to streamline goals, strategically prioritize work and engage in open, candid conversations about capacity.

Middlemist also noted that the 2021-22 staff pattern will be available in October and that financial planning for that fiscal year will begin in November. University leaders expect further cuts to state higher-education funding and are holding some University reserves to ensure a balanced budget for 2021-22.

Sharing Staff Senate updates, President Rebecca Reid invited members to participate in the newly formed Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee and announced two at-large senator vacancies. Reid welcomes nominations and recommendations and expressed a desire to increase student-employee representation.

The next Staff Senate meeting will take place Oct. 13.

Topics: Inclusive leadership, Staff Senate

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