Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

July 20, 1995

UPB Staff Association Council pleased with first-year efforts

When the staff at Pitt's Bradford campus (UPB) decided last year to form a Staff Association Council (SAC), one of their priorities was to send a representative to the monthly SAC meeting on the Pittsburgh campus.

Despite the roughly 180-mile distance involved, representatives of UPB SAC have attended almost all Pittsburgh SAC meetings since last fall. And UPB SAC President Laurel Butler says the effort was well worth it.

According to Butler, the personal contacts UPB SAC has made with staff, faculty and administrators on the Pittsburgh campus have proven invaluable to the group in terms of ideas, planning and impact.

"I would recommend doing that to any regional [campus] SAC," Butler says. "I think you are taken more seriously. Not only that, but you feel more as if you are part of a system. There is more of a camaraderie created by going down to Oakland for meetings." Thanks to such extra effort, UPB SAC accomplished much more than might be expected for an organization in its first year. Its efforts have been felt both on and off campus, too.

Last winter, for instance, the group sponsored a fund-raising drive for the Bradford Senior Citizens Center. UPB SAC Treasurer Lori Johnson found was that many of the seniors who visited the facility on a regular basis didn't have personal essentials such as toilet tissue, toothpaste and soap.

The campus fund drive conducted by UPB SAC collected eight boxes of items, ranging from coffee and cups for the senior center itself to personal items like soap and tissue paper, as well as $150 in cash.

At the end of May, UPB provided the largest single contingent of volunteers for Bradford's annual "Blitz Day." Modeled after a program that originated several years ago in Texas, Blitz Day is a community outreach program in which volunteers repair the homes of people in need.

Fifteen members of the UPB community, including staff, faculty and students, helped to repair 12 homes in the Bradford area during Blitz Day 1995. Work done by the volunteers included everything from painting and landscaping to the cementing of foundations.

"We've gotten very heavy into volunteer work," Butler says. "And we were led in that direction after seeing the volunteer work that SAC does on the Oakland campus." On the Bradford campus itself, UPB SAC's work has been somewhat less visible, but has included a lot of necessary organizational matters. It has developed a set of bylaws, set up a governing body, and gained the attention of UPB President Richard McDowell, who has promised financial support. Butler says that UPB SAC has put together a $4,000 budget for the coming year that it will soon present to the administration.

"The thing that has struck me about the staff association is that they are doing this not only to enhance their own professional development and improve the community, but to work cooperatively with the administration and the faculty," says McDowell. "Everything has been set up by them to improve the quality of education on the campus. They've become sort of a working partner in the mission of the campus." In addition to the organizational matters, UPB SAC has taken over the sponsorship of the campus's annual ski, bowling and golf outings. The next golf outing, open to staff, faculty and students who have been working on campus during the summer, will be Aug. 7.

"A couple of members of the staff and faculty used to work on those outings," says Butler. "The money came out of someone's budget. Now that is something that SAC is going to be responsible for. We'll include that in our budget, plus we'll also be helping to coordinate those events." According to Butler, UPB SAC is developing an academic calendar for the fall that will include, along with monthly council and general membership meetings, more group activities for both staff and faculty. UPB has about 75 staff members and 70 full-time faculty.

"One of our biggest goals is to promote unity as a campus," Butler notes. "We feel that since we are small, we should be able to get together more often and on a more friendly basis. I think that helps to promote the working relationship, too." UPB SAC plans to poll its membership to find out what it might want in terms of events. Among things being considered are regular meetings with UPB President McDowell, campus deans and SAC's executive committee during which various topics of interest to the UPB community would be discussed.

The idea of starting a local SAC arose in April 1994 after UPB staff members viewed a satellite-linked SAC meeting from the Pittsburgh campus. The meeting was about benefits. What was being discussed affected the lives of everybody in the Pitt system, yet nobody had asked for input from staff members at UPB.

Staff at UPB actually thought they were represented on the Pittsburgh campus SAC. When they discovered they were not, Butler says: "We decided we better get together and collectively provide a voice for the Bradford campus." Although it has been a hectic first year for the officers of UPB SAC, who, along with Butler and Johnson, include President-elect Michele Angevine and Secretary Julie Dykstra, Butler says she has found the experience to be invaluable.

"It has taught me a lot about working with people," Butler explains. "There is nothing clear-cut. You have to compromise. You have to barter. You have to do whatever for the general good. If I was ever to become a politician, this would be better training than any political science course."

–Mike Sajna

Leave a Reply