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Strategic Improvement Working Group Appointed to Respond to Issues Raised in “Great Colleges to Work For” Survey

March 13, 2019

To the UW Community:  

A year ago, members of our university community were invited to complete the Chronicle of Higher Education’s “Great Colleges to Work For” survey. In the fall, we received a report on our results, which highlighted some of the most prevalent issues around employee satisfaction and morale. Addressing these most pressing issues is a critical task toward sustaining our human resources and assuring that we can continue to be a high-performing university for our students and state. 

Over the last several months, the Great Colleges to Work For Task Force analyzed the results using data provided by ModernThink LLC, prepared reports with summary findings, and collected actionable recommendations from the university community through a town hall and online submission form. The task force was initially created to plan and facilitate the university’s first year of participation in the survey, but stepped up to the challenge of interpreting the results and sharing with the campus. I want to thank the members of the task force, listed below, for their service over the last 16 months, particularly for their efforts to prepare the university to begin taking action toward making improvements. 

Dan Maxey, Chief of Staff, Office of the President -- Co-Chair

Jeanne Durr, Associate Vice President for Human Resources -- Co-Chair

Michael Barker, Professor of Civil and Architectural Engineering

Clifford Marks, Associate Professor of English

Chris Maki, Manager of Space Allocation, Real Estate Operations

Carl Mehta, Manager of Residence Life and Dining Services Contracts

Tami Benham-Deal, Vice Provost, Academic Affairs

Emily Monago, Chief Diversity Officer, Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Eric Teman, Assistant Professor of Educational Research

Renee Laegreid and Rachel Stevens also served on the task force for the first several months through the survey’s administration. 

Last Thursday at the spring town hall meeting, I announced the creation of a new Strategic Improvement Working Group that will pick up where the task force concluded its work in recent weeks. Its main mission will be to put in place plans around a number of identified topics.  Specifically, the working group has been charged with identifying the top concerns at UW, developing action plans around these concerns, coordinating and overseeing implementation, and maintaining communication with the university community to be transparent and keep you engaged and informed of progress. 

This effort is going to require the attention of a focused and broadly representative group of UW staff and faculty. The working group will be led by Dr. Michael Barker, professor of civil and architectural engineering, who will serve as its chair. Laura Shevling, director of system and institutional effectiveness for WyoCloud, has accepted my invitation to serve as associate chair. The members of the working group, listed below, include staff and faculty members from across the university who were recommended for their specific capabilities and good reputation among their peers. 

Michael Barker, Professor of Civil and Architectural Engineering -- Chair

Laura Shevling, Director of System and Institutional Effectiveness, WyoCloud -- Associate Chair 

Staff Representatives

Megan Barber, Director of Business Operations, Engineering and Applied Science Deans Office

Jesse Begin, Human Resources Training Specialist, Human Resources

Crystal Bennett, Manager, Central Scheduling

Kristin Blevins, Accountant, Transit and Parking Services 

Faculty Representatives

Robert Sprague, Professor, Management and Marketing

Adrienne Freng, Professor of Criminal Justice and Sociology

Jeff Miller, Senior Lecturer, Distance Education 

Administration Representatives

Melinda Benson, Dean, Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources

Jo Chytka, Director of the Center for Advising and Career Services, ACES

Jim Ahern, Associate Vice Provost for Graduate Education 

Communications Specialist

Milton Ontiveroz, Communications Specialist, University Public Relations 

I have asked the members of the working group to serve for a period of 18 months. In the coming weeks, they will review the recommendations collected by the task force and begin to form subgroups that will begin tackling specific challenges through their engagement with pertinent divisions and offices on campus. The working group has been asked to provide regular updates on its work, so please look for continuing communication as this effort proceeds. 

I want to thank the members of the working group for their willingness to serve in this vital role. And, I also want to express my appreciation for each member of our university who participated in the survey a year ago and offered their concerns, insights and recommendations for improvement. Your feedback has been heard and will be used to facilitate improvements across the university. 

I encourage the entire university community to remain engaged as the Strategic Improvement Working Group begins its work and takes us into the next phase of developing and implementing action plans. 

Laurie S. Nichols, President  

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