We are pleased to bring you the AU Staff Council Newsletter for the 2011 fall semester! In this issue, you'll learn more about Staff Council activities, upcoming projects and events, and how you can get involved. We also have a summary of the results from the survey that staff members participated in earlier this fall. Lastly, you get a chance to get the inside scoop on Scott Jones, Staff Council Chair, as part of our ongoing interview series with Staff Council members. Thank you for the great turnout of nearly 200 staff at this year’s luncheon in November. As always, we at Staff Council are honored to represent you.
"AU has always been and continues to be an extremely responsive community," says Adell Crowe, chair of the Staff Council Service Committee. "We average six to seven service events each year and are able to add new ones because the staff tells us it wants to do more."
That responsiveness was obvious with the overflowing donation bins at the Staff Council Winter Wear Drive’s four collection sites. More than 100 gently-used coats and six boxes of other winter gear were donated, says Kat Tortorici, Staff Council Service Committee member and coordinator of the drive. Volunteers from A Wider Circle, which helps families transition out of homeless shelters, had to make three trips to pick up all the donations.
Currently, the council’s “Can You Help?” campaign is collecting $1 for every AU staffer with contributions going to Martha’s Table. Why just a dollar? “We are trying to get as much participation from as many staff as possible,” says David Fletcher, Staff Council member and coordinator of the campaign. “By setting it at a dollar we hope to make it easier for people to donate. We’ll take more, of course.”
Already $600 has been donated. Martha’s Table was selected because of its ability to reach hungry and homeless DC residents through its McKenna’s Wagon mobile soup kitchen, says Fletcher. “Every day 65 gallons of soup, as well as sandwiches and fruit are distributed. We are proud to support such a valuable program.”
The spring brings additional service opportunities including the MLK Day of Service, Book and Media Swaps, and the 2nd Annual Prom Dress Drive.
This year the MLK Day of Service is on Saturday Jan. 21 rather than the Monday of the MLK holiday Jan. 16. The date was changed because classes don’t start until the 17th. The Center for Community Service and Engagement coordinates the event and provides volunteers with transportation to off-campus volunteer sites, t-shirts, and breakfast and lunch. The Day of Service offers over a dozen opportunities for staff to join with other AU students and faculty and give back through service.
In February, the Staff Council will have its first Book and Media Swap of the year. At each swap more than 100 books are brought in and exchanged for others. Unclaimed books are sent to Better World Books, who sells donated books to fund literacy efforts around the world.
In late March and early April, the Staff Council will join with some AU sororities to sponsor its second Prom Dress Drive. Last year more than 100 dresses were donated to “Once Upon A Prom” which held an event at Eastern Market at which several hundred DC teens were able to select a perfect dress for prom night. This year WAMU News Director and staff council member Jim Asendio will lead the drive.
The Staff Council would like to thank all everyone who participated in the 2011 Staff Council survey. The 640 responses received will help shape priorities over the coming years. Data is still being analyzed, but here is an overview.
Top high interest responses from the survey:
Enough dining options in the summer
o 55% strongly disagree/disagree
Salary scale parking
o 70% strongly agree/agree
Dedicated parking for scooters and motorcycles
o 42% strongly agree/agree
More dedicated spots for cyclists
o 54% strongly agree/agree
Participation in AU volunteering in exchange for an extra day of leave
o 67% strongly agree / agree
Smoking ban on campus:
o 77.8% strongly agree/agree to a 25 foot ban around buildings
o 61.1% strongly agree/agree to a smoke free campus
Meet Scott Jones, AU Staff Council president. As part of an ongoing series, each issue we will profile a different Staff Council representatives.
Scott Jones grew up on a farm in rural Illinois surrounded by horses, cows, chickens, rabbits, dogs, cats, ducks, geese and pigs.
His favorite pet, however, was his Appaloosa named Misty. Scott believes that raising his horse and growing up on the farm gave him a strong work ethic and taught him team work. The family had to work together every day to incubate eggs, care for the animals and keep the farm running smoothly, in and out of harvest seasons. “There was no way one person could do it alone. Everyone had to do his or her part,” Scott said.
Scott left the farm and has landed in Washington, DC, as Director of Operations for the University Center at American University and also as Chair of AU’s Staff Council. But he still has to get his animal fix. “We had 40 kittens this summer,” he said, explaining that he is a foster parent for the Washington Humane Society. Kittens spend an average of five to eight weeks socializing with Jones’ boxer Rambo and his cat Keisha before they are put up for adoption. “I have five kittens running around the house right now,” he says. “It’s cute because they will crawl up on Rambo and fall asleep with him.”
Scott has worked as the director of operations for the University Center for eight years and is on his fourth and final year of Staff Council. This is his second year as chair. “Initially, I joined the council to meet staff across campus and continue my professional development. As I remained involved, I realized that we had some great opportunities to make a significant impact on the campus community,” Scott says.
As Scott gets ready to step down from his position as chair and member of the council, he advises the next chair to “know that change happens slowly, so find pride and motivation in even the smallest of accomplishments.”
His proudest moment on staff council was just this semester. “I think completing the 2011 Staff Council Survey brings me the most joy as it provides future direction for the Council and the University as it relates to staff,” he said. Approximately 640 staff participated and the results provide a clear picture of AU Staff’s concerns, and consequently what the council’s priorities will be.
Scott describes the council as a group of dedicated AU staffers who volunteer their time to make a difference. Just as his family shared responsibilities to collectively make the farm function, Scott says council members collaborate to serve the entire AU community.
But does he miss the farm? “I often think about moving outside of DC so that we might be able to raise horses, ducks, geese, pigeons, and free range chickens.” But for now, he’s happy sticking close to the circus of life on campus.