College of

2020 Dean's Staff Advisory Committee Minutes

December 1

Present: Melissa Kacos, Karla Cody, Harmony Van Valkenberg, Megan Stechschulte, , Robert Schiering, Christopher Kemp, Anne Leiby-McMahon, Liz McDaniel, Lisa Pasbjerg, Kelli Sisson, Sarah Enlow, Holly Nysse

  • Approval of meeting minutes -Melissa will follow up via Teams to approve last months meeting minutes.
  • Comments from the Dean
    • Is there information staff need or want from the dean or the college and that we are not providing?
    • How is working from home or work going?  Is there something we can do to help with the work situation?
    • What lessons from our current work situation should we transfer into the post COVID-19 world? (Should we offer more “work from home options” after COVID-19 then we did pre-COVID).
    • Discussion of what might be next steps for the group to bring to the dean and perhaps having another survey out to support staff with follow up zoom sessions to discuss issues, make connections and help create a sense of community during Covid. There was a subcommittee formed to talk through what this might look like.
  • Internal Networking Document 
    • Liz went over her ideas for an internal networking tracking document to assist in making connections within the support staff community. Liz will take the lead on updating the document and making sure that information that is received is tracked/updated.
  • Meeting with the CAC update -Harmony is working on setting up a meeting with our liaison with the CAC to discuss next steps and how we might collaborate with the CAC.

November 4

Present: Melissa Kacos, Karla Cody, Harmony Van Valkenberg, Megan Stechschulte, , Robert Schiering, Christopher Kemp, Anne Leiby-McMahon, Liz McDaniel, Lisa Pasbjerg, Kelli Sisson, Sarah Enlow, Holly Nysse

  • Approval of meeting minutes -Approved and will be added to the webpage
  • Communication email from committee/Training Opportunities-Kellie Sissen spoke about the opportunities for training from OMERAD, and a discussion of creating a list of one cohesive list of trainings available through our college, university (WorkLife) and other groups (i.e. Pine Rest). Brenda Reynolds spoke of the importance of resources that Pine Rest has available i.e. Financial planning with experts.
    • There was consensus to have our committee create a list of available trainings in both the email communication and on the TEAMS site.
  • Meet with the Dean
    • Are we ready? Discussion with the team about lack of feedback from the support staff. In general, staff are feeling like they are in a holding pattern and just want to get through this uncertain time.
    • What will we bring to him?
    • Discussion about the role of the committee
    • Discussion about inviting the leadership of the CAC to join our meeting.
    • Increasing the TEAMS profile, expertise, health and wellness, resources etc.
    • Melissa to work on an action items for the committee
  • Webpage – Amy is working on creating a link to the team’s site directly from our website.

October 6

Present: Melissa Kacos, Karla Cody, Harmony Van Valkenberg, Kim Healy, , Megan Stechschulte, Amy Nienhouse, Robert Schiering, Christopher Kemp, Anne Leiby-McMahon, Liz McDaniel, Lisa Pasbjerg, Kellie Sisson

  • Approval of meeting minutes -Approved and will be added to the webpage
  • The 1 hot button issue you would address if you (Chris)- Formalized process for bringing issues to the Dean (Chris)
    • Chris spoke about perhaps formalizing the process at which we bring issues to the Dean. Melissa spoke of the issues/problems + solutions tracking tool (the importance of follow-up/closing the loop was brought up within this discussion). Committee members spoke about the history of the committee.
    • Questions about how issues come to the committee and the survey of all support staff and teams’ suggestions and concerns.
    • Kellie gave the idea of having a monthly meeting with the dean that we make a call for agenda items/issues items to be brought to the dean.
    • Request that the Dean make a call out about the importance of the committee to support staff.
    • Liz spoke about perhaps editing the webpage to include a link to the team’s page. Amy and Liz will work on this together to see if there are options.
    • Discussion about focusing on more communication coming from the committee on a more regular basis.
    • Hot Topics discussion included the following items-Career development growth, diversity and representation throughout the college, standard onboarding and networking/connection throughout the college.
    • Discussion on ensuring support staff know all the avenues of how to reach our committee, while making sure staff know their concerns are confidential.
  • Trainings, Work/Life Office, Internal Networking, Connecting (Kim)
    • Kim will be creating a list of opportunities both within the Work Life Office as well as the EAP Pine Rest options.

September 23

In attendance: Dean Sousa, Melissa Kacos, Karla Cody, Kimberly Healy, Amy Nienhouse, Holly Nysse, Brenda Reynolds, Robert Schiering, Megan Stechschulte, Sarah Enlow, Christopher Kemp, Anne Leiby-McMahon, Liz McDaniel, Lisa Pasbjerg, Kellie Sisson

Dean Sousa:

  • College updates
    • Most college updates, you can hear in the 9/25 town hall and/or the weekly Dean updates (budget cuts, chief diversity officer in final stages, EL as a hot spot is cooling down, the dashboard is updated once/week, discrimination of women in academic medicine)
    • Will not return to work offices before December. We, as a committee, will continue to ask this question and place it in the minutes (staff have voiced that they would like to know when general dates like this are set regarding working remotely).
      • To individuals asking when they can go back: along with following CDC guidelines, they need to figure out how to do this in the long run to ensure it is done in a fair and equitable way
    • Expectations the Dean has from us:
      • The focus is getting through this tough time. He wants to know how he can help staff make life better, especially during this time
        • Wants work/family life to be good
        • Wants to hear what they are not doing good
      • Concerns share from staff:
        • Want the flexible work hours, but fear asking for flexibility because of the possibility of cuts coming. In response, Dean Sousa understands the benefit of relationships that get built while in the room (zoom call) but hopes that that would never happen. He has not heard any supervisor complaints in regard to flexible work hours and can honestly say, supervisors have struggles as well.
        • The fear of cuts. In response, Dean Sousa assured the main goal is to preserve human capital, but in the case a cut needs to happen, plenty of time would be given for the employee to properly adjust.
        • Dean Sousa confirms that isolation is real for everyone right now. The committee brough up some ideas of trainings from the work/life office, HR and our own personal meetings/trainings to share ideas, communicate, share best practices and he fully supports this idea and also suggested checking with OMERAD.

August 26

Present: Melissa Kacos, Karla Cody, Harmony Van Valkenberg, Kim Healy, Brenda Reynolds, Megan Stechschulte, Amy Nienhouse, Holly Nysse, Robert Schiering, Sarah Enlow, Christopher Kemp, Anne Leiby-McMahon, Liz McDaniel, Lisa Pasbjerg, Kelli Sisson

  • Welcome and Overview of First Year-Melissa gave an overview of all the work the inaugural committee accomplished over the last year.  
  • Committee Introductions- Each committee member introduced themselves, where they work, how long they have been with the college and share thoughts about what is working well and what needs improvement in the college.
  • Renaming the committee- There was a brief discussion about renaming the committee. Time was running out so this will be included in future meetings as a discussion and a formal vote.
  • Checklist for new committee members- Melissa shared a checklist for new committee members to complete to get acquainted with the work the committee has been doing, how we communicate and share information. Melissa will share on teams and via email.
  • Meeting with the Dean- Meeting with the Dean will be coming up. Melissa shared how those meetings go and to encourage each of us to attend if possible.

June 2

Present: Melissa Kacos, Karla Cody, Harmony Van Valkenberg, Kim Healy, , Megan Stechschulte, Teresa Thomas, Amy Nienhouse, Holly Nysse

  • Team Roundtable- We checked in with each other and how things are going with Working From Home. Each member present spoke about their challenges and things that are going well.
  • New Committee Member Applications
  • Once the application system is closed, Melissa will send out a Qualtrics survey to members along with the applications received. Each member will have the opportunity to review and rank. We will meeting in mid June to go over the applications and select new members to start July 1, 2020.
  • Teams
  • Each committee member is encouraged to post in the teams site and add useful information to keep the teams site live.

March 18

Present: Dean Sousa, Barbara Forney, Melissa Kacos, Karla Cody, and Harmony Van Valkenberg

Positive Feedback from Staff:

  • I would like to pass on my thanks to Barbara Forney, Toya Pruitt, Kim Healy, and the rest of the College’s HR/Admin staff. I can’t imagine the pressure they are under right now and the support they’ve provided me and my unit while we’ve been working remotely has thus far been exemplary.
  • I’m just thankful that I can continue making an income in this scary time. I think everyone will need to remember that it’s a very stressful time and we are in the unknown, but would like leadership to know how grateful I am to be able to continue to earn a living so that is not something to stress about right now.

Answers Regarding Staff Concerns:

  • Working location (at home vs. at workplace): it has been reiterated that we need to have as many people as possible out of the work buildings, home, and away from other people, period. If you can work from home, work from home.
  • Working a flexible schedule: working a flexible schedule (ie. working earlier than business hours or later than business hours) is supported. We understand working from home can be a distraction, and if a flexible schedule would increase your work efficiency, we support that. Please work with your supervisors/unit leads to assure this is acceptable and will not interrupt the workflow of the unit.
  • If the University closes, will we still get paid/be forced to use our time? The university will not and cannot close; there are essential operations that will always need to continue including human resources and payroll, facilities repairs and maintenance, security, clinical care through HealthTeam, (our faculty group practice), Olin Student Health Center, etc. The University and HR are working on issues that may arise related to pay, time-off accruals, etc. These are complex issues that are under discussion every day and are not being ignored. We will update you as soon as we have answers from Central HR.
  • Is suspending parking fees while we work remotely an option? This has not been addressed by the University.  Questions regarding parking permits for the East Lansing campus should be addressed to the MSU Parking Office.  In Grand Rapids, those who pay to park in the Michigan Street ramp under the Secchia Center or in the Trowbridge lot can request to cancel their parking registration effective April 1 if they do so by Monday, March 23.  You will then need to re-register through CashNet when you want to reinstate parking permission.
  • If the University closes, what if we need office supplies while working from home? Again, the university will not close. However, if you need office supplies while working remotely, you are free to make a quick visit to your office to stock up as long as you are not sick.  Enhanced cleaning procedures following CDC protocols continue in every building.  When you do visit to pick something up, follow all the precautions that have been recommended, including social distancing – staying at least six feet away from others.  You might also work with your team to assure you are coming into the building at different times to ensure social distancing.  
  • What about the staff who don’t have wi-fi at home? For those unable to work at home because of wi-fi, as of today, March 18, 2020 you are okay to work from the office with your supervisor’s approval, but make sure you are following all precautions. Do NOT come to work if you are not feeling well!
  • Communications: Barbara Forney will try to ensure that all important communications intended for all faculty or staff go directly to them or are forwarded to them rather than assuming they are being cascaded down. Over-communication is better than under-communication.
  • Research Concerns: The MSU Vice President for Research and the Health Colleges Research Services  office have been sending out communications regarding curtailment and possible suspension of research activities.   Specific questions should be addressed first to your PI or chair and then to one of these research offices. 
  • If a colleague tests positive: The health department is tracking positive tests along with people in contact with the individuals testing positive. There is no requirement to report symptoms, only if you test positive.

Additional Notes:

  • Medical education is changing hourly – people are working hard and doing great things
  • Communication is more important than ever right now, and it is bringing people together. Stay in consistent contact with your colleagues.
  • If your workload has changed drastically, this is the time to create more efficient procedures, write up your work processes and procedures, work on your professional development, learn new skills, research, etc.
  • Check out the resources that have been shared:
    • Work/Life Office
    • Spartan 365

February 18

Present: Melissa Kacos, Karla Cody, Harmony Van Valkenberg, Kim Healy, Kelsey Magolan, Brenda Reynolds, Megan Stechschulte, Teresa Thomas, Amy Nienhouse, Holly Nysse

  1. Approval of Minutes (Melissa)
  2. Pine Rest Classe
    • Options for classes in Grand Rapids through Pine Rest for a low cost.
    • Sessions will start in April, May and June. Classes will be at 9 AM in Secchia with a zoom option.
    • This committee will sponsor these sessions.
    • The HR source came out with new supervisor training that we as a committee will also promote.
  3. New Committee Member Applications
    • There are three members with terms expiring 6/30/2020. The application will remain mostly the same with minor edits to language.
    • The committee will work on a process for electing new members for a July 1 start date.
  4. Teams Training
    • Still working on getting a location for the training. Melissa will follow up.
  5. Additional Updates
    • Parking in lot 100 discussion. Staff continued to show concerns about crossing the street. Brenda will follow up with Brian Jespersen about continued concerns.
    • Internal networking (brown bag sessions)-HR will be our first session for a half-day (3/4ths day).
    • The group discussed the option to have IT video tape the session.
  6. Begin discussing what to bring to the next meeting with the Dean
    • Items for consideration include
      • Training offerings
      • Continued mistreatment of staff by faculty members

January 21

Present: Melissa Kacos, Karla Cody, Linda Cornish, Kim Healy, Kelsey Magolan, Amy Nienhouse, Holly Nysse, Robert Schiering, Megan Stechschulte, Teresa Thomas

  1. Introductions
  2. Internal Networking Initiative Brainstorm Session 
    • Work groups across the College coming together in person to network and share best practices is a good goal, but we must start small.
    • We agreed to first start with attempting to utilize TEAMS, which would address several issues brought up to us by the staff survey results including:
      • Networking and sharing best practices (lack of communication currently)
      • Learning together (teamwork, career development)
      • Communicate with others outside your unit (feeling of isolation currently).
    • Action item: If we are going to try and use TEAMS as a communication tool, it was suggested that we get training and it was suggested that someone from Spartan365 training be invited to our next meeting.
  3. Kelsey and Rob briefly shared their concern of no shuttle service between East Lansing and Grand Rapids. There seemed to be one at one time, but it may have been canceled.  Maybe CHM could rent a couple of vehicles to make travel back and forth more economical. More to come.

January 7

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

Guests – Amy Guenther, Ph.D. and Randi Stanulis, Ph.D.

  • Email Communication (Randi Stanulis and Amy Guenther) – Amy indicated that she and Randi been meeting with the CHM Chairs and Directors, along with Dean Sousa on email communication. In working on enhancing the culture of trust and hearing feedback from over 200 participants – including staff, faculty, chairs, and deans office personnel, from the CHM Habits of Effectiveness workshops, the topic of email tone (word choice, attitude) continues to come up and they are asking for the committees feedback on how to implement this to make the message stand out and not be felt like “here is another email regarding change but it’s not going to go anywhere.”
    • After a lengthy discussion, the committee felt it would be more profound if a number of college committees (including ours) collaborated on the the initiative and together sent the email, and also include a brief video outlining proper email etiquette and have someone from each of the above-mentioned groups be part of the video.
    • Follow-up from the email needs to be continuous like the great job Amy does for those who attended the Covey sessions.
  • Approval of Minutes (Melissa)
    • Committee approved minutes from December 2, 2019 with no changes. At the next meeting the committee will approve minutes from December 17th and January 7th.
  • Internal Networking Initiative (Kim)
    • Tabled for next meeting
  • Action Items
    • Brainstorm more on the Internal Networking Initiative as we ran out of time due to the great feedback regarding email communication
  • Other Items: Kim received an email from Cynthia Vincent regarding chair messages that are offered in Grand Rapids could be available in East Lansing.  Megan mentioned that the Employee Assistance Program offers chair messages and would send everyone the information after the meeting. Will discuss at next meeting.