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OP Staff Assembly steering committee kicks off another busy year

Get ready for a summer book drive, Staff Appreciation Week in September and an advocacy campaign this fall to drum up awareness of UC’s value to the state, the nation and the world.

These are just a few of the activities in the works for this year’s OP Staff Assembly steering committee. And you can help with any or all of them, because, while the steering committee provides organization and leadership, all OP staff are members of the OP Staff Assembly.

The group elected HR Consultant and ULCA alumna Jeanie Urban (pictured above) chair for 2012–13, succeeding Ken Feer, to lead them in championing community-building activities and making UCOP a more rewarding place to work.

Their first official event was the Fourth Annual President’s Town Hall, held July 13 at the Elihu Harris State Office Building, where UC President Mark Yudof spoke and fielded questions for about 200 UCOP staff.

“I think the town hall was a great success,” Urban said, commending the new steering committee for pulling together quickly to develop a format that encouraged more individual staff members to ask questions than at past town halls.

Many projects initiated by last year’s committee are still in progress, Urban said, and it is her goal to see these through to fruition.

“I want to respectfully follow through on the projects that were just too big to finish in one year,” Urban said, including Staff Appreciation Week, planned for Sept. 17 to 21 (look for more details in Link soon).

“Without regular salary increases, Staff Appreciation Week is one way for leadership to show its appreciation to staff,” Urban said. “It’s also an opportunity for us to take a break during these challenging times to celebrate ourselves.”

The week’s offerings will include a lunchtime midway fair with taco carts, affinity group booths and raffle prizes; a pancake breakfast with President Yudof himself behind the griddle; and a talent showcase with wine and cheese. (Interested in participating in the talent showcase, 3 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 21? Contact Lynn Tierney at

Also in progress are a drive for staff donations of books from the California Young Reader Medal program for the Oakland Unified School District and an effort to install campus–inspired art in Franklin conference rooms, which should wrap up in September.

Urban’s goal for her year as chair is to challenge OP staff to focus on what they can rather than what they can’t accomplish. She likes to envision UCOP as a small campus within the UC system. This is, in fact, OP’s status within CUCSA, the Council of UC Staff Assemblies, which has representatives from each UC campus, Lawrence Berkeley Lab and UCOP (Ken Feer now serves as CUCSA chair elect).

“Even though we’re not a campus with students, I think of UCOP as a small campus or town where everyone knows one another and can do their part to make it a more positive place to work,” she said.

Another proactive effort is the advocacy drive, launching at Staff Appreciation Week, which will provide postcards pre-addressed to the state legislature for staff, friends and family to urge support of the university and higher education in general.

“Although there are limits on staff participating in lobbying or political activism, there are things we can do,” Urban said. “We want to sponsor  more activities of this kind, where we actually get staff involved and participating in advocacy efforts, like supporting Gov. Brown’s tax initiative [Proposition 30] in the November election.”

Urban plans to structure the steering committee’s monthly meetings more formally to pre-post agendas and minutes and allow public comments at the end. She also hopes to hold at least one all-staff meeting this year to attract and hear from a large number of staff.

Monthly steering committee meetings are held every second Wednesday from 12 to 1 p.m. (see the Link calendar for location), and all staff are invited to attend. Feel free to contact steering committee members with your questions or ideas. They are:

  • Darlene Alvarez, communications co-chair
  • Teresa Alvarez, secretary/treasurer
  • Nancy Chamberlain, vice chair
  • Angela Cheng, steering committee member
  • Claudia Escobar, programs co-chair
  • Peter Forde, communications co-chair
  • Gina Mortenson, steering committee member
  • Gemma Rieser, CUCSA junior delegate
  • Jeanie Urban, chair and CUCSA senior delegate
  • Alex Zabelin, program co-chair

The OP Staff Assembly steering committee wants to hear from you! Attend a meeting or send them your comments via their website.

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