September 2017

Message From Our New Chair: Chris Maier

Christopher Maier, Staff Senate. Photo by Creative Services/George Mason University

Welcome back everyone as we begin a new academic year. Your Staff Senate, advocating for over 3,200 Mason employees, is engaging more and working to cultivate a stronger Mason community. This academic year will bring about some interesting changes. Our administration is revisiting portions of the Strategic Plan, and adding clarity and further details to the University’s stated goals. The refreshed plan is scheduled for completion prior to the Board of Visitors meeting in December.

There will be opportunities for Staff input during the Strategic Plan Refresh. The Staff Senate will hold meetings and report back to four committees related to Staff: 1) Employee Engagement, 2) Community Involvement, 3) Research/Scholarship Agenda, and 4) Student Success. Be on the lookout for emails and further information about how the Staff Senate, and Staff in general, can play a meaningful role in this process.

Starting this year, the Staff Senate has been invited to attend the President’s Council meetings. We look forward to the opportunity to collaborate with University administrators. We attended the annual Planning Conference in July and gained greater perspective on university achievements, challenges, and strategies. The “refresh” will require the most attention for the remainder of this calendar year, as the University recalibrates its goals. We are thankful for the opportunity to provide assistance to this effort.

At our August meeting, the Staff Senate voted and approved the use of Cisco Spark (online team-messaging used by George Mason). As we look to streamline our processes and better serve the Staff, Spark will be a crucial tool for effective and efficient interaction among your Staff Senators.

Also at the August meeting, Staff Senators were tasked with two goals for this academic year, in addition to our annual objectives. Each campus has Staff Senate representation (Science and Technology, Arlington, Fairfax, and At-Large) and will work to improve Staff engagement, with at least one objective serving each specific campus. In addition, the Staff Senate will work together on at least one additional overarching project. We adjourned our Sept. 6 meeting after brainstorming and discussing what we would like to achieve this academic year. More information will follow in next month’s newsletter.

In other news, the Science and Technology Campus will hold a Town Hall later this month to discuss Staff improvement and engagement ideas with Human Resources. We will advertise this meeting in the coming weeks. Please plan to attend if you work at Sci-Tech. We are looking to hold similar events at other campus locations in the near future.

Staff Senate meetings are open to all Staff members. We would love to see you there. Plan now to attend our next meeting on October 4th, in Merten Hall 1201, Founders Hall B119, and Colgan Hall 221.Frank Neville, Vice President for Communications and Marketing, will present to the Staff Senate from 10:30 AM to 11:00 AM. Then from 11:00 AM to noon, President Cabrera will present to the Staff Senate. This is an opportunity to ask university leaders about any Mason topic or to share a suggestion or make a comment. We have a voice as a representative body, and we have voices as individual Staff members. Let’s use them.

It is up to the entire Staff to create the changes we want to see at George Mason University. While we have a committed and capable Staff Senate, efforts to improve working conditions and work-life balance will require additional assistance. If there is an issue we are working on that speaks to you, please consider becoming a Staff Advocate for that specific topic. The commitment is no more than what you can give. By helping out, you will have an opportunity to collaborate with a Staff Senator, serve your Mason colleagues, and contribute to the success of the more than 35,000 students at the largest public research university in Virginia.

We can accomplish so much more when we work together!

“Your life is an occasion.  Rise to it.” – Suzanne Weyn