Marks Begins Term as Staff Senate President
When he first came to the University of Wyoming in 2007 as a member of the Residence Life and Dining Services staff, Ben Marks knew little about the UW Staff Senate and its role within the university.
Now, he's the leader of the organization that represents all UW staff employees and works with the UW Board of Trustees, administration, faculty and students.
Marks was elected president of the Staff Senate in May, taking the reins from fellow Residence Life and Dining Services employee Cheri Frank. He'll serve in that capacity over the next year, including sitting on a courtesy seat during some Board of Trustees meetings.
Marks began his career at the university as the marketing and conference coordinator for UW Catering, then served as interim executive chef and executive sous chef in Residence Life and Dining Services. For the past three years, he has been a computer support specialist, administering the food management software, CBORD, which is used by Residence Life and Dining Services.
Frank, already involved in the Staff Senate, recruited Marks to serve as a senator beginning in 2009, he says.
"I came to realize there's a lot the Staff Senate can do to help the university," Marks says. "It's pretty neat to be involved."
The fact that the UW staff has a voice in governance of the university is significant, Marks says. He appreciates the opportunity to interact with the administration and notes that President Tom Buchanan "makes time" to communicate directly with the Staff Senate.
Marks recognizes that his leadership of the Staff Senate comes at a time of concern and uncertainty for UW employees. Gov. Matt Mead has asked the university and other state agencies to prepare for budget reductions of up to 8 percent in the 2013-14 fiscal year.
"The president and administration have put forth a respectful plan that does recognize staff needs," Marks says. "There's a collective sacrifice we're making right now, but ultimately our mission of service to students is going to pay off."
Partly in response to the morale concerns caused by the budget uncertainty, Marks says he plans to focus his efforts on the physical and emotional well-being of UW staff members. He wants to make sure they're aware of the benefits and resources available to them, including programs that may be available at Half Acre Gym, UW Counseling Center services, and the Healthier Wyoming program for those enrolled in the Wyoming State Employees' Group Insurance Health Plan.
He's also making it a priority to communicate well with UW staff members across campus and beyond.
Marks came to Laramie initially as a partner in a local restaurant. He earned a culinary degree at Ozarks Technical Community College and received a bachelor's degree in hotel and restaurant administration at Missouri State University. In his time at UW, he earned a master's degree in adult and postsecondary education.