The University Staff Advisory Council (USAC) represents all staff members in Vanderbilt University (non-union) positions. USAC is an advisory group to the university's administration, including Interim Chancellor Susan R. Wente, on issues that are important to staff, such as policies, benefits and practices. Many staff council suggestions have been adopted — including employee celebration, short-term disability, and free MTA transit.
USAC is made up of more than 90 elected individuals from nearly two dozen campus groups who represent more than 3,000 full- and part-time exempt and non-exempt university staff members. Also, there is a Medical Center Staff Advisory Council made up of elected members who represent staff at the medical center.
The administration utilizes the council for several purposes, including as a channel to communicate information across the university, as a sounding board, and as a source for recommendations. Recent USAC guest speakers include Interim Chancellor Susan R. Wente and August Washington, Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Public Safety and Special Initiatives.
In May of each year, USAC holds elections to fill positions for half of the 23 campus groups. The positions are two-year terms beginning July 1. Odd-numbered groups are elected in odd-numbered years, and even-numbered groups are elected in even-numbered years.
If you are interested in becoming a part of this vital campus organization, in being one of the first to know what is happening on campus, and in having input on key issues, then the council is the place to be. You can make a difference in helping shape Vanderbilt's future.
Duties of Staff Council Representatives
- As a representative, you are expected to attend the monthly staff council meetings. If you cannot attend, you should make sure that another staff council representative from your group is attending. You should also inform the secretary of the council that you cannot attend the meeting. If a representative from your group cannot attend, arrange for someone else from your group to attend as a non-voting observer. Ask the non-voting observer to sign the attendance roster as a non-voting observer for your group and to inform you of the actions of the council at the meeting.
- Report to your group on the activities of the council. Let them know that minutes of each meeting and other communications are put on the meeting minutes tab on the council website. You also might consider other types of reporting:
- Send a brief summary by email with a suggestion to contact you for more information.
- Post highlights of the meeting with a suggestion to call you for more information.
- Post information distributed at the meetings.
- Ask department administrative assistants to help you disseminate information to your group quickly.
- Discuss council business at your department meetings.
- Because you will be called upon to vote on behalf of your group, make sure you know how the group feels about the issue at hand. Try to ensure that your vote reflects as much as possible the point of view of your group. Do not assume that each person feels as you do. Seek out opinions of your constituents. If your constituents are interested in the topics to be discussed at the meeting, invite them to attend as guests.
- Inform your supervisor of your election to the council. Confirm your supervisor’s awareness of your activities during work time. Attendance at the monthly council meetings is considered work time.
- Participate in council committee activities as you have time and interest. Because the entire council meets only monthly, committee work is necessary to the ongoing program of the council. Committee meetings are generally scheduled before a council meeting (8 – 8:30 a.m.) or during lunchtime to minimize the impact on your workday.