Since 1973, the Northwestern University Staff Advisory Council (NUSAC) has presented employee concerns and suggestions to the University administration. The Council, consisting of volunteer staff members appointed by the Office of the President, also sponsors the annual State of the University address. NUSAC Chair Rebecca Griffiths discussed with the Observer some of the issues and projects in which the council is currently involved.
How would you describe the NUSAC mission?
The purpose of the Council is to help make the working environment at Northwestern more fulfilling and appealing for staff.
How do you do that?
NUSAC solicits and identifies issues of concern to staff members. We then present those issues to the administration for discussion, negotiation and, hopefully, change. NUSAC's relationship with the administration has grown significantly over the past several years. The Council meets regularly with Guy Miller, associate vice president of human resources, Gene Sunshine, senior vice president for business and finance, and President Bienen.
What are some staff concerns?
The rising cost of healthcare is a major concern, being that staff salary increases do not keep up with these costs. Of course that's not just a staff issue, that's of interest to everyone. But we find that staff on the lower end of the salary range get hit hardest.
Are there others?
Staff reward and recognition is also a priority. NUSAC is working to improve how Northwestern recognizes exceptional performers and how it rewards and retains these individuals. Related to this are training and development opportunities and what we call career pathing. An example would be helping a staff member identify advancement opportunities within the University when that person seeks a new challenge.
Is this effort progressing?
Yes, Human Resources is taking this point very seriously, and we're working very hard to come up with some realistic solutions.
What is another NUSAC priority?
In general terms, NUSAC is trying to get staff involved at the University planning level. The Council wants to emphasize that staff members are willing and able to contribute at a higher level. They have good ideas and share a vested interest in Northwestern's long-term success.
How exactly can staff get more involved?
By participating on committees and contributing to the campus dialogue. NUSAC is currently participating on committees for the Highest Order of Excellence II, Evanston campus space planning and parking, to name a few. And it's important to note that the administration is trying being proactive. When it creates new committees, such as those mentioned above, it asks the Council for recommendations on staff representation.
Are you looking for new members?
NUSAC is always looking for people who are interested in working with us. We do our best to get a mix of members from both campuses so there is an influx of new energy each year. Members are appointed for three-year terms, and the Council currently has 14 members.
For more information, go to www.northwestern.edu/nusac/.