|Randolph College Staff Association
Minutes of the Meeting
May 23, 2008
Present: Shahriar Abbassi, Betty Smiley, Keith Shelton, Sidney Anderson, Elizabeth-Ann Rowlison, Dave Blount, Amanda Wentzel, Cathy Williams, Kathy Dupree, Kevin Porterfield, Joy McGrath, Teresa Harris.
Absent: James Rucker, Scott Ketcham, Nam Phuong Thai, Mitch Rodhe, Robyn Smith, Amanda Denny.
Guests: John Klein, Sharon Saunders.
The meeting was called to order at 9:33 a.m. by Elizabeth-Ann Rowlison.
The agenda was approved by all.
The minutes from May 16, 2008 were approved by all.
Secretary: Amanda Wentzel will be unable to attend next week and suggested meeting in two weeks. Others agreed due to Alumni Reunion being next week also.
SMILES: Everyone thanked Teresa Harris for her beautiful work on the cards which were presented at the Staff Recognition ceremony.
Habitat Project: They are nearing the end of construction and the dedication will be some time in June.
Publicity: The question was asked if we should continue to list the newsletter as an e-newsletter. Dave Blount stated it should just be considered a newsletter with two different types of media, electronic and print.
Survey: President Klein thanked the board for inviting him to join our meeting. He asked that we clarify the mission of the group so that we are all on the same wavelength.
Mr. Klein was able to look at the survey and feels strongly that it should come from the administration since it would be a function of management. His concerns center around timing and that it may raise false expectations since we have limited resources to be able to solve issues which may become apparent from the results of the survey. Sharon Saunders agrees with the President and stated that they had discussed the idea of President Klein participating in employee round table discussions to learn more from staff. In order to raise the comfort level of participants the groups would be mixed and supervisors would be separated from their staff. Mr. Klein suggested that the staff association could help by determining the mix of the groups. He has already met with student groups and individual faculty and found the meetings beneficial.
Shahriar Abbassi asked the President to clarify his concerns with the survey and stated he felt resources should not be a concern as many problems could probably be taken care of by the community. Mr. Klein respectfully stated that in his experience this is not true and resources, which are a great concern to him, would be needed. He has been trying to be open about issues facing him and asks that staff be open with him. He feels the survey would not accomplish much as only a few top issues would be able to be considered. Kevin Porterfield stated he feels this is the right time to issue the survey as the information could help in the strategic planning process. Discussion continued concerning the timing and the type of information the survey could provide and how the staff could demonstrate their individual assets by offering ideas to the administration via the survey.
President Klein stated that although the college is still in crisis he is trying to look at the bigger picture and convincing the outside world we are moving on. He is concerned about enrollment, morale, turnover, staff and faculty cuts, pension decrease and the modest salary increase. He would like the staff association to participate in determining what would help the college heal and if we are ready to do that. Discussion followed centered around the fact that staff, as well as faculty, are what make Randolph College different for students. Improving morale by allowing staff to offer opinions and ideas can improve recruitment. The staff association offered their concerns about administration being present during discussions and the fact that many will not offer honest concerns and ideas in that type of setting for fear of retribution. The anonymity of the survey would help with that problem.
Shahriar described two different models for dealing with community issues and problems, one based on needs and another on assets. He said that the more common needs-based approach reduces community members to mere clients whose issues and problems are expected to be dealt with and solved by a handful of people in higher positions. He added that this model has a long history of failure for not taking into account the tremendous energies and creative powers of the community itself. Alternatively, he believes that the asset-based model reveals the community’s considerable assets that otherwise remain unknown and untapped and allows for both the problems and solutions to those problems be owned by the entire community. Shahriar further added that the question for us is whether we will have the courage to choose the latter model as a way to come out of our current situation.
Amanda Wentzel offered the idea of the staff Executive Board members holding round table discussions with the employees they represent and bringing information back to the President. Some members felt the survey could be used along with discussion to give people a starting place for concerns and ideas. Others were concerned that complete anonymity would be needed for some employees to be completely honest. President Klein acknowledged these concerns and after further discussion Keith Shelton offered the motion that the executive board members would use the survey as a guideline and set up meetings with those we represent to gain as much information as possible to present to the President. The motion passed unanimously with President Klein’s approval.
Executive Board members will hold meetings in as timely a manner as possible. President Klein will decide at a later date how he will meet with the board members to obtain ideas and information.
President Klein stated that we have chosen a new Dean of the College and Director of Athletics. Details will be forthcoming via email. He also stated that pending any further injunctions, the first painting will be sold on May 28th.
Mr. Klein asked for feedback concerning the Staff Recognition ceremony. The board voiced that there were good and bad comments. Many asked why the talks for each person were eliminated. The President stated that prior comments indicated the talks were too varied in content and time.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:48 a.m.
Minutes submitted respectfully by Amanda Wentzel.