Seattle University staff have not had a consistent formal representative voice on campus, unlike students (SGSU, GSC) and faculty (Academic Assembly). The need for staff to have a greater voice in guiding and shaping Seattle University has been discussed for several years and was affirmed as a priority for the university in the 2015 Campus Climate Survey.

From Fall 2017 to Winter 2019, a steering committee consisting of thirteen staff members from around the university met monthly in order to lay the groundwork for the formation of a Staff Council here at Seattle U.

In late 2018 through early 2019, the steering committee gathered nominations from the campus community and facilitated an election process. The Staff Council election period ran from Jan 28–Feb 1. 35 candidates ran for staff council within seven distinct categories. Then 61% of the 793 staff on campus voted in the election.

In early February, the election results along with the names of the new Staff Council was announced by Father Steve. Shortly thereafter, the steering committee disbanded and the new Staff Council begins meeting in March 2019.

How was the steering committee formed?

In 2016, President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., and the Cabinet encouraged the Vice President for Human Resources, Michelle Clements, to examine the possibility of launching a staff council at SU.

An initial steering committee of staff leaders from around the campus was formed to start the process of exploring what a staff council at SU might look like, and how SU might move forward in forming a staff council. The steering committee began meeting in fall 2017.

This initial committee received feedback that they lacked broad representation of staff members on campus. As a result, they committed to adding additional representation and put out a call to campus. Twenty-five additional staff members expressed interest in participating on the steering committee, of which, an additional six members were invited to join this formation group in spring 2018.

The steering committee met monthly in order to lay the groundwork for the formation of a Staff Council here at Seattle U.

Who served on the steering committee?

  • Katie Bowler | Advancement Services Specialist, Advancement Services
  • Michelle Clements | Vice President, Human Resources
  • Eric Guerra | Associate Athletic Director, Athletics
  • Kent Koth | Executive Director, Center for Community Engagement
  • Stephanie Lewis | Core Administrative Specialist, University Core
  • Mary Lou Moffat | Director, Albers Placement Center
  • Lilly Newell | Sr. Administrative Assistant, Office of the Dean & Advising Center, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Megan Otis, Co-Chair | Web Support Specialist, Marketing Communications
  • Melissa Schade | Fellowships Coordinator, Office of Fellowships
  • MK Smith | Director, Enterprise Applications, Information Technology Services
  • John Teegarden | Sr. Administrative Assistant, Math Department
  • Dion Wade | Director, University Recreation
  • Leann Wagele, Co-Chair | Director of Administration and the Dean’s office, School of Law

What was the goal of the steering committee?

The goal of the steering committee was to get as much information together as possible so the eventual staff council could succeed and thrive on campus.

To that end, steering committee members completed some benchmarking research and interviewed counterparts at peer Jesuit institutions who established staff councils. The steering committee gathered information on the purpose of these councils, their election processes, council composition, term limits and areas of focus.

What were the key findings of the steering committee's benchmarking research?

After interviewing their counterparts at Creighton, Gonzaga, LMU, Marquette, Santa Clara, Regis and Xavier University, the steering committee has found:

  • The majority of AJCU schools have a staff council.
  • The institutions with SCs have charters, by-laws and structured meetings.
  • SCs are connected to the president, cabinet, academic assembly and student government.
  • SCs are involved in key campus initiatives.
  • SCs also frequently work to identify opportunities for additional institutional growth and change.
  • SCs typically have a president and vice president—some institutions appoint and some institutions run elections for these roles.
  • SC seats are populated by campus demographics (academic, student-focused, support areas).
  • Individuals interested in serving on SC and/or running for a seat complete a common application; a roster of candidates and their profiles are shared with all staff; all campus staff are eligible to vote.
  • Staff run for seats with 1-2 year terms.
  • Many SCs also include at-large seats.

What did the Steering Committee accomplish?

Based on feedback from the campus community, the steering committee:

  • Established additional communication channels to ensure openness and transparency between the steering committee and the campus community. To that end, the
    • Steering Committee developed and published the Staff Council website, and sent out regular updates to the campus community via email and Campus Announcements
    • Hosted several campus-wide conversations in late summer and early fall 2018 on key topics related to the formation of a council, including:
      • The composition of the council, including how to ensure full representation of Seattle U staff on the eventual council 
      • The election process of staff council members
  • Based on their research of staff councils at other AJCU schools and input from the campus community, the Steering Committee proposed a model for the election process and council structure to President and Cabinet for endorsement:
  • The Steering Committee facilitated the inaugural election of the Staff Council
    • The Steering Committee sought nominations from the campus community. The nominations period was open from Wed, November 28, through Wed, January 9th.
    • 35 staff members ran for a seat on the staff council. The Voters' Pamphlet was released Tue, Jan 22 - the week prior to the election to give the staff community time to review the candidates' personal statements
    • The election was held Mon, Jan 28–Fri, Feb 1. View the election results.
  • The steering committee disbanded after completion of the campus-wide election and establishment of the official Staff Council.

President Sundborg's Charge to the Staff Council

At the first meeting on March 1, 2019, Seattle University President, Fr. Sundborg, gave the Staff Council the following charge.

  1. Provide a collective voice for all staff at Seattle U.
  2. Bring forward recommendations to the administration that we think are important to bring forward on behalf of the staff community.
  3. Articulate and develop better the role of staff in fulfilling the mission of the university.
  4. Advocate for the general wellbeing of our staff colleagues – in terms of onboarding, working conditions, supervision, professional development, recognition, and general university culture.
  5. Be a formal part of the university’s shared governance structures (along with Academic Assembly, Student Government, Board of Trustees, etc.)
  6. Delineate the priorities of the staff community.
  7. Develop an organized process for the Staff Council to consult on, nominate, and appoint staff for service on committees, searches.