What is it like to be a staff advisor to the Regents?
With a search underway for the next staff advisor to the Regents – applications are due on Friday, June 29, 2018 – current staff advisors Sherry Main, chief Communications and Marketing officer at UC Santa Cruz, and Jason Valdry, director of Technology at UC Irvine, are only too happy to spread the word about the unique role in which they serve.
“My message to colleagues is, ‘You can do this. You can rise to the challenge of this role and really make a difference,’” Valdry said. “The rewards of my service have been so much greater than I could have anticipated.”
Staff members who are considering applying often have questions about what the role entails, so Valdry and Main offered to describe several key steps in their preparations for quarterly Regents meetings.
Making the most of each campus visit
Valdry and Main visit campuses throughout the year; Valdry shared a few highlights of their most recent visit, to UC Riverside.
“To understand the issues facing each campus, we try to meet with as many people, in as many roles, as possible. We started our day in Riverside meeting with Chancellor Wilcox and then met with senior leaders, local Staff Assembly leadership and students, to learn about their experience on campus and what they need from staff.”
“A few events made this visit really special for us. During a tour of the campus, we were able to see the impressive Multidisciplinary Research Building 1 that is nearing completion. At a staff town hall, we had the opportunity to connect with staff and listen to their concerns. And finally, we were honored to attend Riverside’s Staff Service Awards and help present the Council of UC Staff Assemblies Kevin McCauley Memorial Outstanding Staff Award.”
Visiting the Office of the President
Meetings at the Office of the President are an essential part of the two-way communication that takes place before a Regents meeting.
“President Napolitano and [Vice President of Systemwide Human Resources] Dwaine B. Duckett both spend a lot of time listening during our one-on-one meetings with them,” said Valdry. “They know how closely we work with staff across the system, and really appreciate the insight we can provide. And of course, we’re able to go into the Regents meeting with a much better understanding of systemwide issues after meeting with them.”
Main and Valdry usually meet with members of the Academic Senate, the provost and the student regent, as well. “We’ve learned that faculty and student representatives genuinely appreciate the role of staff and are enthusiastic in their support of the critical role that we play at the university,” Main said. “The staff perspective simply isn’t always visible. Once we explain what we see and why we think a proposal is a good idea or bad idea, they become some of our most vocal advocates when we are at the Regents table.”
Meeting with the Regents
As Valdry noted when he reflected on his service as a staff advisor, personal meetings with the chairs of Regents committees are often the most effective way to make sure the staff voice is heard. “As significant as the Regents meetings themselves are, we work hard to lay the groundwork on the issues most important to staff before Regents meetings begin. That way, committee chairs arrive at the Regents table with an understanding of the staff perspective and why it matters.”
If you have questions about the staff advisor position or the application process, contact Juliann Martinez, UC Office of the President Employee Relations, at 510-287-3331 or via email: Juliann.Martinez@ucop.edu.
Valdry and Main also welcome conversations about the role. “We’d love to hear from staff across the university,” said Main.