College of

2019 Dean's Staff Advisory Committee Minutes

December 3

Present: Melissa Kacos, Karla Cody, Harmony Van Valkenberg, Kim Healy, Brenda Reynolds, Robert Schiering, Teresa Thomas, Holly Nysse, Amy Nienhouse, Lydia Merritt, Linda Cornish

  • Introductions – name, department/unit
    • Each committee member introduced themselves, what unit they work in and what campus
  • Overview of committees + major projects in progress
    • Brenda Reynolds gave an update on staff engagement committee and ideas for helping to increase employee morale.
    • Amy Nienhouse gave the dean an update on the communication committee and the work that is being done to help decrease silos. She shared the work that her group is doing on getting all the organizational charts on the website to help with better understanding of the organizational structure college wide.  There was a question raised to the dean on what meeting minutes can be shared college wide.  The dean said that all minutes with the exception of RPT committee minutes can be shared.  The group did recognize that not all committees take minutes.
    • Kim and Theresa gave an update on the policy and procedure committee. There was discussion on if this is a task this committee should take over realizing that it is a very large task to take over. The group agreed that while we can help support staff find existing policies but that at this time this would not be a task that we take on as a committee.
    • Rob gave an update on the employee relations committee. The work of this committee is focused on staff and supervisors being adequately trained at all levels. The committee will continue to meet to address area’s for improvement.
  • Dean’s vision/expectations for the committee
    • The Dean expressed that the work of the committee thus far is outstanding and that we should continue this important work. He brought up the idea of creating networks for support staff to get to know each other and bring best practices. This will not only help with morale and silos but help to build a better sense of community.  The next steps for this group will be to create a plan and budget for this work to present to the dean for approval.
    • Dean Sousa shared the importance of accountability moving forward, a fall planning letter, hopes for new partnerships, his clinic visits, and the exciting new challenges being worked through with all the health colleges.


November 19

Present: Melissa Kacos, Karla Cody, Harmony Van Valkenberg, Kim Healy, Brenda Reynolds, Robert Schiering, Teresa Thomas, Holly Nysse, Michael Bream, Amy Nienhouse, Lydia Merritt, Linda Cornish

  1. Approval of 9/27 and 11/11 minutes-Approved
  2. Committee Updates
    1. Awards and Recognition-Lydia and Brenda will work on this for the next meeting. Looking into online recognition. Starting meetings off with informal and formal recognition. Items for consideration is in the Teams folder. Brenda spoke to the employee engagement including encouraging health and wellness (walking challenges); hold fun in high regard; encouraging networking; pick a project and do service together; allow for personal enrichment (book clubs etc.); thank you cards
    2. Communications -Amy spoke about looking at the organizational charts for departments and unit to be put on line.
    3. Employee Relations- Rob reported out that the committee has met a few times. They have reviewed the issues list and see these issues as very broad. One of the items that was very broad was lack of autonomy and a sense that they can make independent situations. 
    4. Policy and Infrastructure- Kim Healy will be the lead of the meeting and this committee will work on getting a meeting in place. Michael had the idea of creating a easy resource to find the policies that are already existing. Michael has a tool that will be
    5. Leadership-We shared the results of the survey to the support staff and with Todd Bradley. Our hope is that Todd will be able help give us feedback.   Harmony connected with Jeff MacKeigan as the chair of the CAC and that we will be working with Jeff on getting a meeting set up to talk about how the two committees can work together.

November 4

Present: Melissa Kacos, Karla Cody, Kim Healy, Brenda Reynolds, Robert Schiering, Megan Stechschulte, Teresa Thomas, Holly Nysse, Linda Cornish

  • Approval of Minutes (Melissa)-All Approved
  • Retreat
    • Melissa will send out the agenda from Todd Bradley for the day.
    • We are working on providing lunch and we will send out a menu option. Parking validation will be provided from those coming from Grand  Rapids and Flint.
  • Meeting with Dean Sousa
    • The meeting is currently scheduled to be in East Lansing in the Clinical Center.
    • We will plan on having a committee meeting after our meeting with the Dean.
    • We will plan on covering the survey results, direction of the committee, accomplishments thus far, major themes we are seeing as a committee and through the survey results as well as the Dean’s vision for the meeting.
  • Training for Supervisors and Staff Survey Results
    • We have had a good response rate
    • Melissa went through the survey results and common themes are coming to the surface.
    • Next step will be to see what HR can offer in our 3 campuses.
    • Megan suggested a next step might be to share with support staff an update of the work that we are doing, common themes and proposed next steps.
    • There group discussed getting a comprehensive list of all supervisors within our college.
  • Sub-Committee Updates
    • Communications
      1. Meeting will convene shortly. There was lots of discussion about the best way to reach everyone outside of the traditional meetings that have been happening (supervisors meeting, dept admin) etc. This will be a continued topic at the retreat.
    • Policy and Infrastructure-Did not get to this topic.
    • Employee Relations-Did not get to this topic.
    • Awards and Recognition-Did not get to this topic.

September 27

Present: Melissa Kacos, Karla Cody, Kim Healy, Kelsey Magolan, Brenda Reynolds, Robert Schiering, Megan Stechschulte, Teresa Thomas, Holly Nysse.

  • Approval of Minutes (Melissa)-All Approved
  • Issues/Solutions Spreadsheet Discussion
    • Supervisor/Staff Development Project Updates: Survey to staff and supervisors will go out with some minor changes this week.
    • Union/Researchers Updates-Kim Healy has gotten some information from the university that she will share with Kelsey and then come up with next steps.
    • General discussion re. spreadsheet and sub-committees: Melissa will put together a sign up sheet for the subcommittee leaders and membership sign up. The four subcommittees will be communication, policy and infrastructure, employee relations (trust and morale) and awards and recognition.
    • The group discussed developing a resource section to the website to be used as a central resource for support staff. There will be further discussion about this and how it will be maintained and updated for the future meetings.
  • Meeting with the Dean topics for discussion
    • The group discussed items to bring to the next quarterly meeting with the dean. Topics will include, accomplishments so far, supervisor training survey and support of that work, support for direction of the committee thus far.   Please send any other agenda items for this meeting to Melissa and Karla. 

August 28

Present: Melissa Kacos, Karla Cody, Linda Cornish, Kim Healy, Kelsey Magolan, Lydia Merritt, Brenda Reynolds, Robert Schiering, Wyatt Short, Megan Stechschulte, Teresa Thomas, Amy Nienhouse, Holly Nysse.

  • Approval of Minutes (Melissa)-All Approved
  • Discussion – Advise on minutes, should we include it all? Voted unanimously that we have one set of minutes including the action plans, etc. 
  • Announcements – We are losing Wyatt Short as he has accepted a position outside of MSU. Congratulations to Linda Cornish for being appointed Division Administrator in the College of Human Medicine’s Division of Public Health in Flint. The committee thanks him for his services and wish him well in his new role.
  • Bylaws
    • Signed and uploaded to Teams upload to website? Have been signed and uploaded to the bylaws.
    • Closed door policy amendment (Kelsey) – We need to make our first amendment to the Bylaws reflecting confidentiality, and make sure it is worded to where if it is mandatory reporting then it would not be confidential. We do not need to share where the information came from.
  • Communications
    • Committee Outlook Email Access – Thank you Megan for working with IT to get this up and running.
    • Staff Advocates Introduction Email – A few responses of thank you and a couple suggestions but no unsubscribes.
  • Reflections on what we have accomplished – Melissa has added our current accomplishments to the tracking sheet Michael created and suggested that everyone add issues and concerns and from that information we can create subcommittees. Kim, Theresa, and Kelsey will work together on the reclassification issues mentioned on the tracking sheet and report back.  Even if we can’t solve it, we can offer resources.  Melissa also requested that everyone mark on the tracking sheet if they have sent their emails out.
  • Due to Wyatt leaving he did not send a message out to his list and Linda and Lydia have volunteered to take over his people.
  • Goals/Initiatives
    • Topics for education for supervisor (Kim) - It’s only going to work if the department and leadership approve it, so the top paragraph would go out prior to the survey announcing what is forthcoming. There are three different surveys, one from the staff, one from the supervisor, and one for both to see what they feel staff should do.  It was suggested that on the Supervisors and Staff portion, it be changed to “do you feel would be of most benefit to staff” rather than “non-supervisors”.  A suggestion was made to develop the survey in Qualtrics for anonymous purposes and have it disbursed out of the central email.  It was suggested to do it as a ranking with the top 3.  Megan and Melissa will assist Kim in developing the Qualtrics survey.
    • Concerns + Solutions Worksheet – Melissa will contact Cynthia Vincent and Jennifer Roy by email to see when the Dean can meet with us again. In the meantime, we need to make up a list of concerns and solutions.  We need the Deans feedback on how to deal with disturbing complaints that we are not sure how to address.  We may consider asking “what do you want me to do with this”, “how can I help”.  Kim Healy stated that there has been an approval for the comment boxes but no information on where these will be located.  Kim Healy also suggested creating a flow chart that will assist us in addressing these issues in the future.

August 13

Present: Melissa Kacos, Karla Cody, Harmony Van Valkenberg, Michael Braem, Linda Cornish, Kim Healy, Kelsey Magolan, Lydia Merritt, Brenda Reynolds, Robert Schiering, Wyatt Short, Megan Stechschulte, Teresa Thomas, Amy Nienhouse, Holly Nysse

  • Approval of Minutes (Melissa, Harmony)-All Approved
  • Approval and signing of bylaws (Michael)-All Approved
  • Claudia meeting debrief
    1. Action steps in response to the meeting - the group discussed next steps for letting support staff know the survey results. It was decided the survey results should not come to from the group.
    2. The group decided to use the formula provided by Claudia moving forward: problem + yes/no + solution/reasoning
  • Communications
    1. Action Items
      Each committee member should have access to the Dean’s Staff Advisory Committee Outlook Email and IT is in the process of sending email on behalf of the committee (Megan).
    2. Staff Advocates Introduction Email-Email will be kept as is (majority vote). Goal is to have all emails out by 8/23 from your personal MSU email. Amy will save the last version to Teams. The list will be updated on a monthly basis.
    3. BCC emails (Amy)-Amy had a support staff member give feedback on BCC bulk emails as there should be a standard established to ensure transparency in who is receiving the emails. The committee will use this standard moving forward.
  •  Goals/Initiatives
    1. Topics for education for supervisors (Kim)- This will be an ongoing topic .  
    2. Concerns + Solutions Worksheet- tabled for next meeting.
  • Action Items:
    1. Megan to work with IT regarding email
    2. Amy to add latest staff advocates email verbiage to Teams
    3. Everyone to bring tent cards to meetings moving forward
    4. Melissa and Karla to sign bylaws

July 23

Present: Melissa Kacos, Karla Cody, Harmony Van Valkenberg, Michael Braem, Linda Cornish, Kim Healy, Kelsey Magolan, Lydia Merritt, Brenda Reynolds, Robert Schiering, Wyatt Short, Megan Stechschulte, Teresa Thomas, Amy Nienhouse, Holly Nysse

  • Approval of Minutes (Melissa, Harmony)-All approved
    1. Posted to website-Will be posted after the next meeting and we vote on the minutes.
    2. Action Items
      1. Email address (Kim)-We are close to getting the approval. Need to determine who will check and monitor the email account. Wyatt brought up a concern of having too many people having access.  The group decided to have Karla monitor the inbox and send to the appropriate.  Amy will create a standard signature with appropriate opt out language. We will keep this list limited to full time and part time support staff (not to include temporary and on call staff)
  • Staff Advocates (Harmony, Karla, Melissa)-Group approved the list with changes.
    1. Announcement – Each committee member will send an email introduction to each of the support staff that we each represent along with recent updates. Amy to draft an email introduction for the committee to review.
    2. New hires- Harmony will look into options for getting hire date on the EBS report with Kristine Stroud.
  • Overview of bylaws (Michael)-Michael went through the bylaws section by section. The terms will be changed to match the fiscal year end date of June 30. Michael will also add a section to the bylaws that outlines the process of approval by the Dean’s office for posting of meeting minutes. Michel will revise as outlined above and sed to committee for final vote at the next committee meeting.
  • Claudia meeting
    1. July 31
    2. Send questions to Melissa.
  •  Goals/Initiatives
    1. Supervisors (Kim)-Kim suggested that we could implement supervisor training initiatives and request feedback on subjects that supervisors might be interested in and/or need additional skills to support their teams.
    2. Brainstorm additional-Give suggestions to the leadership team
  • Website Resources-Be thinking about website resources.
  • Action items
    1. Questions for Claudia-Send ideas to Melissa
    2. Goals/Initiatives-Send ideas to Melissa
    3. Meeting date with Dean- Melissa to send doodle poll for next series of meetings.
    4. Schedule next few meetings-Melissa to send doodle poll for next series of meetings.
    5. Books-Continuing to read the books.
  • Other items: Group should set up a Qualtrics survey to protect confidentiality once we have the committee email set up.

July 15

Present: Melissa Kacos, Karla Cody, Harmony Van Valkenberg, Michael Braem, Linda Cornish, Kim Healy, Kelsey Magolan, Lydia Merritt, Brenda Reynolds, Robert Schiering, Wyatt Short, Megan Stechschulte, Teresa Thomas

Structure of the College - Barbara Forney

  • Barbara, associate dean for Administration, gave an overview of her role. She oversees HR for faculty and staff, a significant amount of faculty affairs, operations, space and facilities, serves as Student Grievance Hearing Officer, and represents the college on several university committees.
  • She noted there is a faculty advisory committee (CAC) and a student advisory committee (DSAC), to the dean and shared her enthusiasm for the staff advisory committee, also noting the first meeting with the dean was well-received.
  • She provided an overview of how the college is organized with emphasis on the Dean’s office and the units organized under the Dean’s office in all our locations.
  • Outlook distribution lists are challenging to maintain; however, the Dean’s Office can run a list of all staff monthly. We cannot create a listserv, as those are university owned and will not be created for a college committee. Email must comply with the University’s Acceptable Use Policy. Emails should not be frequent and allow recipients to opt out.
  • In answer to a question about satisfaction surveys, she explained that the college participated in the AAMC Faculty Forward and Staff Satisfaction surveys several years ago. Results were combined with summaries of hundreds of one-on-one interviews that faculty and staff had with Organizational Assessment consultants.  Reports were shared with respective leadership.  Results varied considerably across units and are now dated.

Approval of Minutes

  • Approved with no changes

Action Item Updates

  • Communications 
    • Announcement went out last week to all support staff and minutes saved to the college website.
    • Listserv’s (Outlook distribution list) - We are working on getting our own for all the support staff within the college
    • Phone Directories - The phone list does not include everyone within the college (departments specifically)
    • Dean’s Staff Advisory Committee Email Account- working with IT
  • Staff Advocates 
    • Working on finalizing the list

June 24

Attendees: Norman Beauchamp, Jr., MD, Melissa Kacos, Karla Cody, Harmony Van Valkenberg, Michael Braem, Linda Cornish, Kim Healy, Kelsey Magolan, Lydia Merritt, Amy Nienhouse, Holly Nyse, Brenda Reynolds, Robert Schiering, Wyatt Short, Megan Stechschulte, Teresa Thomas


Dean’s Vision and Comments for the Dean’s Staff Advisory Committee:

  • Five Dysfunctions of a Team
    • (1) Absence of Trust, (2) Fear of Conflict, (3) Lack of Commitment, (4) Avoidance of Accountability, (5) Inattention to Results
  • Dean Beauchamp will bring topics to the committee to discuss and assist in decision making
  • Dean Beauchamp will bring information/updates to the committee. In turn, we must cascade that information out
  • Committee members can bring topics they want to know about (if we want something changed, we must bring it up)
  • Trained staff advocates (“let me be the person you come to when you have concerns/issues.” Sometimes people just need that person), differentiate from bargaining unit representatives.
  • Define two initiatives
  • Make goals (annual, bi-annual, monthly, daily) and make note of accomplishments
  • Dean Beauchamp will bring topics of concern to the department chairs
  • Action items/discuss what we will talk about next meeting
Committee Meetings Thus Far:
  • Leadership nomination (Chair: Melissa Kacos; Vice-Chair: Karla Cody; Secretary: Harmony Van Valkenberg)
  • Bylaws under review and pending final approval/changes by Committee.
  • Reviewing how we gather support staff concerns within CHM
    • Use available information first for Committee concerns
    • Top Four Issues for Now: Lack of communication, Isolation/Lacking Sense of Belonging/Silos, Staff Morale (e.g., workload and treatment of support staff, “us v. them,” lack of top-down respect), Lack of Trust
    • What can we do to build trust? Seek first to understand, supportive environment, tools to building trust/communications, Covey training, self-evaluation of professionalism forum, show the Dean’s face more (videos)
Action Items
  • Communications sub-committee
  • Figure out how the listserv’s operate
  • Break down staff advocates
  • Read 5 Dysfunctions of a Team book
  • Read 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  • Make announcement to staff about how this meeting went