HistoryArticleIn March 1998, the Women’s Studies Research and Resource Center, under the leadership of Cheryl Secrist and her supervisor Rose Pascarell, sponsored a series of brown-bag discussions around various employee issues. The Staff Senate concept resulted after it was clear that during the brown-bag “Faculty/Staff Relations” more was needed to be done about addressing the array of concerns highlighted. From this, the original Ad Hoc Committee for Classified Employees was formed precisely to provide a forum for employee discussions.

At this time, the Ad Hoc Committee became the Staff Advisory Committee which included Mary Thomas (Physics and Astronomy), Joy Staulcup (Registrar), Pam Bruno (Computer Science), Kathleen Cheney (Institute for Research and Reporting), Stacey Remick-Simkins (English Department), Rebecca Walter (TIPP), and Cheryl Secrist (Women’s Studies Research and Resource Center) who was elected Committee Chair. Members spoke with other Staff Senates at other Virginia state universities to explore their issues and strategies. Ultimately, the Staff Senate development process was initiated based on these discussions.

Between June and November 1998 on lunch hours and occasionally after work, the Staff Advisory Committee created the draft Bylaws and Constitution for a Proposed Staff Senate at George Mason University, with the help of Virginia Tech and Jeff Brandwine, from George Mason University’s Legal Services and the support of President Merten, Dr. Scherrens, Sr. VP, Dr. Rosenblum, VP for University Life, and Dr. Elstun and Dr. Taylor of the Faculty Senate. In December, a university wide election on the proposed staff senate and draft bylaws and constitution was held, with staff voting yes to a staff senate.

In February 1999, the Chair of the Staff Advisory Committee made presentations about the future Staff Senate to both the Faculty and Student Senates. The Staff Advisory Committee also met with President Merten to discuss the leadership of the Staff Senate. Simultaneously Stacey Remick-Simkins was nominated by the Virginia Government Employees Association (VGEA) and appointed by the State Compensation Reform Commission while Cheryl Secrist was appointed to the VGEA Board of Directors and George Mason University liaison.

The purpose of these meetings and state-related appointments are to help to establish working relationships for the upcoming Staff Senate with students, faculty, administration, as well as with the State.

In March 1999 the Staff Advisory Committee added their newest member, Eric Brown from the Office of Fire and Safety. One month later, the Staff Senate Kickoff was held to hold nominations for senatorial positions, inviting all staff to participate as well as the university community to ask questions and orient themselves to the upcoming staff senate.

In May 1999, senatorial elections were held with all senators taking office in June. After one month of orientations, the Staff Senate held its first formal meeting September 21, 1999.

Founder: Cheryl Secrist

Founding Members: Pam Bruno, Eric Brown, Kathleen Cheney, Stacey Remick-Simkins, Joy Staulcup, Mary Thomas, and Rebecca Walter.

Past Staff Senate Chairs