As I come to the end of my term as chair of the Staff Senate, I am reflecting on the past two years. Serving in this role has been the greatest privilege of my time at Mason.
Out of the turmoil and challenges of the past year, we have crafted new ways to live and work. As our lives start to feel a little more “normal,” many of us are trying to find our way back to a baseline of well-being.
The continuation of flexible work is an important way to support staff well-being. Though a return to campus is exciting, many staff want to balance their time on campus with a flexible schedule or regular telework days. In the post-pandemic workplace, this is an essential practice to recruit and retain talent.
In the context of a university, we must resist the idea that telework is contrary to a vibrant campus culture. We’ve proven over the past year that we can connect with each other no matter where we are. At Mason, we have always existed together across campuses and distances. We can certainly modify our work schedules to ensure both in-person activity and telework. Flexible work options positively impact employee well-being and also reduce our carbon footprint. Mason strives to be innovative. To be seen as a leader, we must continue to use telework as a means of supporting employee well-being and protecting our planet.
As Mason shapes its plans, it is vital that staff be included in these discussions. Last year, the senate submitted a proposal to the Board of Visitors (BOV) requesting the addition of a nonvoting staff liaison to the board membership. The BOV unanimously approved this change in December 2020. The inclusion of a nonvoting staff liaison establishes a permanent seat for staff at the highest table of university decision-making.
Staff are motivated and committed to Mason’s success. In our annual Staff Senate election last year, we received more nominations than any other year in recent memory. This was remarkable, considering the context of that engagement. The extreme demands of life and work during the pandemic drove Mason staff to become even more involved in the university’s organizational success.
Mason staff have worked incredibly hard—whether on campus or at home—to keep Mason safe and operational over the course of the pandemic.
As my term comes to an end, I am thrilled to pass the baton to Erin Iacangelo Rogers, incoming chair of the Staff Senate. I am grateful that this recurring column was published on the Mason News website during the past year. Future columns from the chair will be posted on the Staff Senate website.
This summer and fall, I hope we can all work toward that baseline of personal well-being. Let’s apply the lessons we’ve learned to build a new, and even better, “normal” at Mason.
Lauren Clark Reuscher
Chair, Staff Senate