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At a time when the University of Wyoming is tightening its belt and employees are absorbing additional tasks, UW Staff Senate President Ben Marks understands the need to focus more than ever on effectively and efficiently performing core job duties.
For many staff members, that might exclude spending time on what could be considered extra, nonessential responsibilities, such as serving as a member of the Staff Senate.
But from Marks’ perspective, having a fully staffed, fully functioning Staff Senate is more important during a period of fiscal austerity than perhaps any other time. With a number of openings on the Senate this semester, he and UW’s administration are encouraging UW staff members to consider joining the group that serves as the voice of the university’s non-faculty employees.
“At a time of budget cuts, it’s vital to have a strong voice working directly with peers, supervisors, administrators and other units on campus,” says Marks, a member of the Residence Life and Dining Services staff. “There’s an opportunity for the staff to be a part of creating solutions. What we’re doing now will have an impact on our role in the future for UW.”
The Staff Senate fulfills a number of important functions on campus and beyond. Its members advocate for the staff, take a leadership role in campus initiatives, and participate in a number of community projects. For example, the Senate plans and coordinates the annual Staff Recognition Day, and it prepares holiday food baskets for deserving families.
When he first came to UW in 2007, Marks knew little about the UW Staff Senate and its role within the university. The fact that the UW staff has a voice in governance of the university is significant, he says.
“I came to realize there’s a lot the Staff Senate can do to help the university,” he says. “It’s pretty neat to be involved.”
Staff Senate members receive at least eight hours of release time each month to participate in Senate activities. The Senate meets at 1:15 p.m. the second Wednesday of every month in the Wyoming Union Senate Chambers, and senators also serve on various committees. Any staff member who has been at UW for at least a year and works at least 20 hours per week is eligible to serve.
“We encourage all staff members to consider serving on the Staff Senate,” says Mark Collins, UW interim vice president of administrative operations. “Our supervisors are committed to making it possible for employees to fit Senate responsibilities into their work schedules.”
Anyone interested in serving on the Staff Senate should email email@example.com or call 766-5300.