Staff Council

The University of Hartford's Staff Council represents the rights, needs, interests, and goodwill of all non-union staff at the University of Hartford.

The Staff Council seeks to work collaboratively with other members of the University community to foster a greater sense of shared community.As advocate and contributor, the Staff Council collaborates with colleagues in the campus community to co-create a greater sense of shared purpose and respect.This commitment to a shared learning community at the University serves to inform and guide our work.

The Staff Council serves as an advocate for University staff members and is committed to a culture of respect in an environment that fosters professional success in accordance with the mission of the University.

Upcoming Meetings

All meetings are held in GSU 335 from 1-2 p.m.

August 14, 2019—Speaker TBD
September 11, 2019—Speaker TBD
October 9, 2019—Speaker TBD
November 13, 2019—Speaker TBD
December 11, 2019—Speaker TBD


June 12, 2019



Wednesday, June 12, 2019 

Attendance: Lauren Goldman, Laura Heemskerk, Ben Ide, Barbara Dessureau, Pam Masi, Rebecca Lee, Jesele Paragone, Lisa Wollenberg, Dianne Silliman, Lindsay McKeegan, Denise Limberger, Dameris Kates, Donna Clarke, Tom Nyman, Bonny Taylor, Kelly Anderson, Meaghan Murphy, Amy Kopec, Carla Fuller, Sean Parke, Sally Henowitz, Rachel Yacouby, Cindy Oppenheimer, Laura D’Angelo-Gohn, Christine Lapierre, Allison Poulin, Marsha Gaulin. 

Discussion of Minutes from April 10, 2019 and May 8, 2019 general meetings.

  • The minutes from April 10, 2019 were approved.
  • Review of May 8, 2019 minutes: make a note that attendance was not recorded, correct spelling of Jen Conley’s name. Minutes were approved with these amendments.

University Committee Reports

  • Budget Advisory Team – Randi Ashton-Pritting/Laura Heemskerk (no report – committee resumes in Sept)
  • Wellness Committee – HRD, Lindsay McKeegan/Barbara Dessureau: No report
  • Benefits Taskforce – Cindy Oppenheimer/Lynn Galvin
    • Reviewed Staff Council request to modify spousal exclusion.
    • Looking into possibility of offering Pet Insurance.
    • Next enrollment for benefits will be “Passive Enrollment”. Only employees making changes to their coverage would have to enroll, anyone else their benefits would roll from the previous year. This would not include health savings accounts. More details to follow.
    • If you have any issue with your health insurance, remember to contact HRD or the broker.
    • President Woodward has scheduled a meeting for June 20th with BTF to discuss spousal exclusions; Cindy will not be at meeting but will send notes. If you have any suggestions or thoughts, please email them to Cindy to bring forward for meeting.
  • Presidential Commission on the Status of Women – Donna Clarke (No report)
  • Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Task Force: Christina Lapierre
  • Recruitment – What are action items we can start implementing immediately?
  • Attending job fairs (HRD) – recruiting applicants that may also be potential students
  • Touch base with Career Services- they offer standard career fairs throughout the year, can we be an employer?
  • Other University career fairs – UCONN, CCSU
  • Link on HR webpage – staff/faculty stores about “working at the University”, spotlight different areas
  • Can employee referral name be added to applicant tracking system application?
  • Recruitment Fair on campus – invite outside organizations here
  • Link to attractive benefits about working here – affinity groups, paid maternity/paternity (2 weeks), flex work schedules, tuition remission
  • Make internal staff more conscious of what positions are open
  • Retention – What are action items we can start implementing immediately?
  • Stay/transfer interviews
  • Mentors
  • Cohort Training
  • Develop “X” year plans with new employees (managers)
  • Events like Hog River Picnic
  • Supervisor more regular check ins
  • First year employee NEST?
  • Hold all employees accountable – perception is some people doing a lot of work while others are not
  • Let new employees know how salary increases work – HR has this discussion when asked by a prospective new hire
  • Other rewards for employees? – Starbucks?
  • Have an easy “reporting” system to acknowledge faculty/staff who go above and beyond to enhance the student experience, make an impact 

Staff Association Reports

  • Web Advisory Committee – Barbara Dessureau
    • As you all know, the new website launched at the end of May. OOMC is doing some tweaking to areas but the site is a big success. Updates can’t be made until the end of June earliest. If there are problems with your department’s site, contact yur content manager or myself.
    • The new Staff Council site’s URL is: Please contact myself if you find problems with it.
  • Faculty Senate – Ben Ide
    • President Woodward spoke at the Faculty Senate meeting and reported on much of the same material he presented at the Staff Council meeting early in the month. He and Provost Fred Sweitzer talked about the relative importance of national college rankings, saying that where the University sits on rankings tends to matter more to potential students from other countries. There are ways that we could artificially boost our numbers (such as changing the status of Hillyer students to “probationary” or counting Hartt School private lessons as “classes”) but we are already on track for making the University a more viable choice for all students. Fred also commended the work of the Faculty Senate over this past year, saying that shared governance only works if you work at it.
    • The May meeting of the Faculty Senate was the last of the academic year. The Faculty Senate is on hiatus until September, with the executive board empowered to make immediate decisions over the summer if necessary. The new executive board is Jerry Katrichis as Chair, Nels Highberg as Vice Chair, and Natalie Politikos as Secretary. There are also several changes to the senate roster due to departmental elections and appointments.
  • Treasurer’s Report – Cindy Oppenheimer – Balance as of 6/12/2019 is $1,089.90 (no change)
  • Membership Director Report – Ellen Lavasseur
  • Fundraising Committee – Amy Kopec
  • Have been contacted by the same company that they did the fundraiser for last Fall. Can do cookie dough, pies, or butter braids. Committee will review and come up with recommendation.
  • Human Resources Department – Lynn Thibodeau
  • Submissions for staff nominations have been extended to June 17th, limit to 1,000 characters.

New Business

  • Approved movement to go over new elected individuals for Staff Council. Announced elections: Ben Ide as Chair, Christina Lapierre as Vice Chair, Lauren Goldman as secretary, Linda Zigmont won votes for treasurer (need to contact to her to see whether she wants to serve as treasurer or non-exempt member at large), Stephanie Fengler as communications director, Linda Zigmont and Cindy Oppenheimer as non-exempt community representatives at large. By volunteering: the exempt representatives at large are Tom Nyman and Kate Hohenthal.
  • Guest Speaker: Jason Farrell, Director of Facilities
  • Proposed having more regular dialogue with staff, offered to come back to future meetings.
  • Target talking points: construction, cleanliness, sustainability
  • Cleanliness and resources: how to best deploy resources to make best impact possible for students, shared challenge to differently deploy resources, goal is to ensure they put custodians in best position possible to serve the university and make it a good working experience for them
  • Sustainability: waste management proposals, compost, separate waste, 90% of waste that comes off campus is recycled
  • Construction: new center for student success addition to GSU is underway, Barney School addition, new academic building to support the growth of emerging academic programs in initial stages of planning
  • Water tank blew in sports center, working on repairs, utilizing funds for campus revitalization - athletics/recreation, residential halls, creating access to the river, general purpose classrooms in every academic building, $10 million to spend over 3 years.

Minutes are submitted by Lauren Goldman, Recording Secretary.

May 8, 2019



Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Minutes from March 13, 2019 general meeting.
We were not able to discuss or approve minutes as quorum was not met. Will review for approval at next general meeting on June 12th.

University Committee Reports

  • Budget Advisory Team Randi Ashton-Pritting / Laura Heemskerk

BAT met twice in April to finalize the 2019-20 budget that will be presented to the Board of Regents on May 3. The

budget, as requested by the BoR, includes best case, worst case, and likely financial scenarios. Input was taken from

many departments to come up with three estimated budget levels. Next meeting is May 9.

  • Wellness Committee HRD, Lindsay McKeegan / Barbara Dessureau (no report)
  • Benefits Taskforce Cindy Oppenheimer / Lynn Galvin
  1. Chris Monroe (broker) reported on Medical Coverage

o There have been some individual issues with Pharmacy Transition. He works one on one with the employee to resolve. Examples of issues: (1) Diabetic Metter/Supplies – Aetna uses Accu-Chek which is different that UnitedHealth care. 30 members affected. If you are one and have an issue please contact Chris Monroe he can assist (2) Some

medication that individuals have been on for years now need pre-approval. There should not be a problem if you do contact Chris Monroe.

o Early indication look good for a claim year….but we have a very long way to go

  1. Changes to Bereavement Policy. Each year the BTF review specific items, the bereavement policy was on the list (prior to the changes in leadership). On behalf of the Staff Association I proposed the following. This was not a formal request, it was an attempt to start the conversation about possible changes. Jen Connelly, HR stated they would take it under advisement. I would like to hear staff’s feedback.

o Would the University consider changing the bereavement policy for immediate family members from 3 days to 5 days? Currently the University provides: An excused paid absence of up to (3) three days of missed work time will be granted for a death in the immediate family. For this policy, immediate family is defined as children, stepchildren, grandchildren, spouse, parent, stepparent, parent-in-law, grandparent, brother, sister, stepbrother and stepsister. (This is how FMLA defines immediate family member). [Quinnipiac University, University of New Haven and some of the unions in the Connecticut State University system offer 5 paid days].  Fun Fact……Walmart offers 4 paid days off for death of an immediate family member.

o Would the University consider a formal policy for time off for members of the community to pay respect for the death of University of Hartford employee or retiree or co-workers immediate family member?

Members on Benefit Task Force: Lynn Galvin, Robert McAlpin, Cindy Oppenheimer, Ted Sawruk, Hemchandra Shertukde, Laura Whitney, Harry Workman. Consulting Members: Jen Conley, Jamie Harlow, Deb Kidder, Chris Monroe.

  • Presidential Commission on the Status of Women Donna Clarke
  • Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Task Force: Christina Lapierre

Open Discussion – messaging, recognition, inclusivity

  • We need to reinforce our information with data analytics.
  • Can we get results from climate survey?
  • Messaging needs to be the same across campus, from all levels.
  • Many great recognition (Cooke Award, Outstanding Staff Award), but no one knows about the accomplishments of staff or the same staff are recognized year over year.
  • Offer other events that bring all employees together – Hog River Picnic, Trivia Nights, Kickball Game, Hawktober Weekend.
  • Tweaks to our “language” – faculty vs. staff – makes it feel hierarchical, work to promote cohesion – use employees or community.
  • Cabinet members should have more of a face at events for staff.
  • Random Acts of UHART (kindness cards) – can we ramp this program up more?
  • How do we promote our faculty and staff (social media)


  • How do we better recruit minority leaders on campus?
  • Bring to President’s Council – we all are responsible for diversity and inclusion on campus.
  • Review degree requirements versus ‘points scale’ for degree plus experience when hiring new employees.
  • Announcement on internal posting.

 Next Meeting Suggestions?

  • Recruit, retain and recognize
  • Messaging for President’s council 

Staff Association Reports

  • Web Advisory Committee – Barbara Dessureau
  • The new web site is on schedule to launch on May 29. All managers will finish migrating content by May 6. The only item left to be done is for the UHart web team to review and test the new site by May 28.
  • Faculty Senate – Ben Ide
  • President Woodward talked about the recent attack on the campus. He praised Campus Safety's response,crediting them with saving lives, and mentioned measures that we can look at to better prepare for future emergency situations. He also talked about the state of Connecticut's minimum living wage, which was calculated at $19.08/hour in 2014 for single adults without children, and how we have 100 employees who currently don't make that. President Woodward mentioned that the numbers for enrollment and retention for next fall are trending upwards but said that we need to perform budget reduction exercises to meet a budget shortfall. The KPMG auditing firm is reviewing our budget. Dana Hall is going to be renovated and we are going to add an additional academic building, though the location hasn't been selected yet. He said that, though we don't quite have the final numbers on what we saved on health insurance for spousal exclusion, he thought we saved less than we expected and that it wasn't fair to the 50 people who were affected.
  • Laura Whitney, VP of Finance and Administration, introduced herself and spent some time answering questions and talking about the work she is doing.
  • During the course of discussion on short-term disability, faculty members expressed some concern about the acknowledgment form on the access page to the online Employment Manual. (The acknowledgment form was later removed, and the Employment Manual is now available through Self Service.)
  • Elections were held, and the new executive board of the Faculty Senate will be installed during the May meeting.
  • Treasurer’s Report – Cindy Oppenheimer – Balance as of 5/8/2019 =- $1,089.90 (no change)
  • Membership Director Report – Ellen Levasseur – 134
  • Fundraising Committee – Amy Kopac (no report)
  • Human Resources Department – Lynn Thibodeau
  • The inaugural staff professional development day was a huge success. A total of 156 people attended the keynote. Thank you to all who participated in the day. Please remember to complete your survey, if you haven’t. Your feedback is important to us. We hope to see you again -Save the Date for the next Professional Development Day - August 22, 2019.
  • Stay tuned for detailed information on the launching of the Lunch and Learn Series. Our goal is to establish a space for ongoing D&I professional development and discussions.
  • Dialogue for Directions have been distributed to Deans, Directors and Department heads. Competed Dialogues are due back 5/31.

New Business

Guest speaker: President Woodward

  • Showed enrollment statistics for Fall, down 140 in regular admissions, expect some to catch up. Discussed new degrees being offered that are boosting numbers. Yield has increased to 13%, goal is 17%.
  • Talked about his discussion with the board of regents and his hope to grow the school and achieve a positive budget, and his plan to get there.
  • Showed plans for campus projects, new buildings and landscaping space, renovations.
  • Goal is to grow to 5000 undergrads and 2000 grads, work to increase retention.

Next General Meeting: Wednesday, June 12th, 2019 at 1:00 pm.


Minutes are submitted by Lauren Goldman, Recording Secretary.

March 13, 2019

March 13, 2019

Attendance: Lauren Goldman, Christina Lapierre, Pam Masi, Rachel Yacouby, Sandra Stevens, Lynn Thibodeau, Lindsay McKeegan, Ellen Levasseur, Sean Parke, Donna Fleischer, Donna Clarke, Carla Fuller, Kelly Anderson, Laurie Fasciano, Barbara Dessureau, Allison Ponlin, Katrina Mill, Laura Heemskerk, Joseph Van Gilder, Ben Ide, Christine Ringuette, Betti Viereck, Lisa Wollenberg, Stacie Wentz

Discussion of minutes from February 13, 2019 general meeting. The minutes from February 13, 2019 were approved.

University Committee Reports

  • Budget Advisory Team–Randi Ashton-Pritting/Laura Heemskerk
    BAT met on March 7, 2019. Great strides are being made to reorganize and rename BAT and make the budget process more effective. While the University is looking at the FY20 budget, they are also trying to make the budget more: 1.) Manageable; 2.) Accurate; and 3.) Provide clarity. There are many challenges to the current budget with: 1.) Layers of overlap, 2.) Tracking (Banner and billing lag; requires manual adjustments, 3.) Modeling (relies on much conversation and discussion; needs much data, and marketing analysis). The next BAT meeting will be March 28, 2019.
  • Wellness Committee–HRD, Lindsay McKeegan / Barbara Dessureau (on hiatus)
  • Benefits Taskforce–Cindy Oppenheimer/Lynn Galvin:
    Report from BTF – February 21, 2019
    Update on the Impact of the Spousal Exclusion. Chris Monroe still waiting on so information/figures–discussion moved until the next meeting.
    Recap of the Aetna Implementation. Kudos to all–overall transition went smoothly with few issues. Encourage all to attend upcoming Town Hall Meetings.
    • Open Discussion
    • Wellness discussion–will continue looking into options–incentives discussed
    • Silver Sneakers for Retirees–Chris Monroe will bring this back to United as many of our retirees are unhappy. That being said, there are discounts offered at other gyms.
    • Life and Disability have moved from Aetna to Reliance, calls should be directed to Reliance.
    • Dedicated customer service line–Encourage members to call 866.275.9086
    • Next meeting is March 21, 2019.
Presidential Commission on the Status of Women–Donna Clarke
  • The Presidential Status on the Commission of Women (PCSW) has been working on events for Women’s History Month. Please see UNotes dated 3-6-19 that outlines some of the work.
  • April 3rd PCSW is co-sponsoring “One Night. One CommUNITY, Many Voices". It is an Open Mic night event in Hawks's Nest. We are looking to confirm about 5 participants (students, staff & faculty) to start the event and others can participate once the event gets started. If you or you know of others who are interested, please contact either Kenna or Karen. Participants can perform anything (poems, songs, etc.) that fits with the theme of celebrating & supporting women! Again, it doesn’t have to be you but we need you all to ask around, spread the word and encourage your colleagues to participate in this event that is open to all. Contact Karen Schermerhorn at or Patricia “Kenna” McKenna at
  • Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Task Force: Christina Lapierre
    • The D&I Committee met on 2/28/19 and discussed how the “onboarding” process for new employees can be improved. It was discussed that instead of only meeting with a new employee for 1-2 hours on day 1 of employment, instead HR should be meeting with this new employee quarterly for “check-ins”, provide a campus tour on day of new employment as well as provide resources to the new employee throughout a new employee’s first year of employment. This will also help new employees to bring any concerns/issues to the forefront with HR early on instead of never hearing about a potential concern. This allows HR to be more hands-on with new employees.
    • There will be a Professional Day on campus for all staff on Thursday, April 25, 2019 with a keynote speaker and breakout sessions. The PD day allows all staff to attend and has been approved by the President. Posted in UNotes to register.
    • Next meeting will be Monday, March 18, 2019.
Staff Association Reports
  • Web Advisory Committee–Barbara Dessureau
    • The new University web site will now launch May 29, 2019. It was rescheduled because OMC did not want to deliver a rushed, incomplete site, but rather one of a greater quality. It is also less confusing to students to access a site at the beginning of the semester rather than midway as they start projects and research.
  • Faculty Senate–Ben Ide
    • President Woodward spoke about future plans for improvements on campus. His four year, $10 million plan for enhancing buildings, repairing and upgrading furnishings and infrastructure, and new construction was presented to the Board of Regents. He also said that the contract with the adjunct union is done except for salary negotiations. He'd like to review our decision to exclude spouses with their own healthcare and find out if it was real savings for the University or if it just hurts people. Meanwhile, our healthcare claims are down from last year.
    • Provost Fred Sweitzer provided an update on the CETA Dean search and mentioned the gradual restructuring of the Provost's Office as well as the need to juggle space on campus to accommodate new and expanding academic programs. He also spoke again about his request to move the rules about short-term disability procedures for faculty out of the Faculty Policy Manual in favor of the ones in the Staff Employment Manual. The request was later voted down by the Faculty Senate.
    • The Faculty Senate voted to grant the status of faculty emeritus to individual who have left the University without being granted tenure. Additionally, this designation can also be granted posthumously.
  • Treasurer’s Report–Cindy Oppenheimer
    • Balance has not changed since January meeting, still at $1,090.89.
  • Membership Director Report – Ellen Levasseur
    • Membership report has not changed, still at 134 members/constituents.
  • Fundraising Committee (on hiatus)
    • Human Resources Department–Lynn Thibodeau:
      There are a few interesting training opportunities on the horizon in March and April.
      The ePAF for Originators classes run throughout the month of March, typically on Mondays and Tuesdays. “The electronic Personnel Action Form (ePAF) is an online process completed when a new employee is hired, a change is needed for an existing employee, or a termination of a position/employee is needed. The originator inputs all the required information before sending it over to the approvers until it is ultimately applied electronically to the appropriate BANNER screen(s). Come learn what information is needed and how to process an ePAF from start to finish, how to check status on existing ePAF, and finally there will be time to answer specific questions you have regarding your specific situations. Bring your own examples and questions and a zest to learn. All classes are held in the Computer Center, room 114.”
    • Beginning Access class is scheduled for March 15th.
    • On April 25th, the University of Hartford will be hosting its first annual staff Professional Development Day with the theme of "Inclusion Matters: We Are All Breathing the Same Air”. This half-day experience for staff will focus on educational opportunities on various diversity and inclusion topics. The day will consist of an opening keynote session and two breakout workshops. It is designed and intended for all staff members of the University. More information will follow, and there will be an online registration form for your convenience, as the event comes closer. As always, please remember Space is limited, and seating is first come/first served. E-mail for more information or to sign up for a class. For our full calendar of classes, please visit us at

Old Business
Ben announced that most of the community representatives have been identified and he is still looking to fill the last few open areas.

New Business
Presentation: Matt Blocker-Glynn, Director, Center for Community Services
Matt mentioned the upcoming helping hawks event on April 5, 2019. Staff do not need to use personal time to volunteer. Registration is live, there are 20 active community service sites, looking for more volunteers. The goal is to build relationships with staff, faculty, and students outside the classroom and encourage students to become more involved in community service. The volunteer day will involve about 2.5 hours of volunteering, followed by barbecue and raffle.
Partnering with alumni in the local area that will come to volunteer with the group.

Review of the revisions to the Constitutions and Bylaws for Staff Council:
Summary of the changes to the existing Staff Association Constitution and Bylaws:

  • Change of name from Staff Association to Staff Council.
  • Staff Council shifts to a representative body for all non-union staff, and no longer a membershipbased, opt-in organization.
  • For the purposes of voting, one Community Representative will be sent from each of the 19 defined University communities plus four (4) At-Large Representatives, (2) two Non-Exempt, and (2) two Exempt.
  • Membership Director shifts to Communications Director.
  • Staff Council allows for a greater dissemination of information to University staff via Community and
  • At-Large Representatives, and Communications Director.
  • Question by Staff: Several staff members were not satisfied with the current language of the bylaws regarding community representatives. How will they know the community representative will actually be representative of the staff without rules or regulations?
  • Question by Staff: A staff member asked whether staff members can still send communications and questions directly to the chair if they don’t want to go to their community rep. Ben assured that staff members can still communicate directly with the chair. Friendly Amendment Proposed by Staff: A staff member proposed a friendly amendment that language should be drafted to amend the proposed bylaws to stipulate the responsibilities of the community reps to include terms, job description, designation of meetings, how they’re elected and if they send proxies. Motion was approved to amend language.
  • Approval of constitution and bylaws will be held off until community representatives have met and
    discussed possible changes to the language in the bylaws.
  • Vice Chair, Christina Lapierre offered to draft up language for the community rep section that covers the concerns raised by staff in the general meeting for review and approval at the April 10, 2019 meeting.
  • Comment by Staff: A staff member was frustrated that the first professional development event was scheduled on the same day as another big university event, making it impossible to attend both. Vice Chair, Christina Lapierre had reached out to the Diversity Office to 1) record the event for those who cannot attend, and 2) scheduling future PD for staff to not conflict with other University events where staff are needed moving forward.
  • Next General Meeting: Wednesday, April 10, 2019 at 1:00 p.m.

Minutes are submitted by Recording Secretary, Lauren Goldman.