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Feature Liaison Profiles

Staff Council had a chance to sit down with elected members Heather Smith (HR) and Jarris Williams (OCL) to ask them a few questions about backgrounds interests. Read more to see what we discovered!

Interview with Staff Council Liaison, Heather Smith

Heather A. Smith

What do you do now and what did you do before coming to AU?

Before coming to AU, I taught preschool in KY to 3 and 4-year-olds and loved every minute of it! Organizing special field trips throughout the community, special visits by police and the fire department, K-9 search and rescue units, and more. By the time these kiddos were moving on to kindergarten, they knew their shapes, colors, numbers, were writing complete words, and some even reading whole story books! Now at AU, I serve as an Employee Relations coordinator in the Office of Human Resources. Within my current role I provide coaching and guidance when workplace issues arise from interpersonal communication, policy clarification, etc. I also help facilitate workplace accommodation requests for faculty and staff as well as provide some training on demand. In my role I also work to maintain the University's Affirmative Action Plan, deliver diversity briefings throughout campus, and more. I guess you could say, within my team, we do a little bit of everything, and it's always exciting because we never know what our day will bring, who we'll get to serve, or how we'll get to make a difference - but we do.... every day.

How did you get into this area of work and what do you like about it?

I always knew that I wanted to work on the staff side in higher education. I previously had a wonderful experience serving in various roles at Union University in Jackson, TN. When my husband was accepted into a graduate program here at AU, all of the pieces fell together. One of the things I love most about my job is my team. I don't know many people who wake up and look forward to coming to work every day, but I most definitely do. Our team has become a family! What I find most fulfillment in regarding the actual nature of my work? Hands down, helping others.

Where are you from? What did you study in University?

Ya'll should know by now that I am a homegrown KY girl - born and raised. So yes, I bleed blue (Go CATS!), love my bluegrass state and everything that comes with it! I attended Union University in Jackson, TN and graduated with my BA in English in 2009.

What is one place you'd love to go, which you haven't visited yet?

That's a great question! I'd really love to visit Switzerland just to soak it all in and of course see the Swiss Alps!

If you could be one fictional character, which one would you be and why?  

Hmmm... I know it sounds crazy, but maybe Fifle from Fifle goes West. Why? Well, because I really wanna get out west and visit all the states I haven't yet. Moreso, I never ever want to lose my sense of adventure! I'm always up for trying something new, embarking on new adventures, and appreciating the journey along the way. I don't ever want to lose that!

What has your experience been on Staff Council, and what is your favorite memory ?

Being a part of staff council is definitely FUN! Yes, we work hard, but the issues we address, the events we plan, the visits we make - all of that goes toward building a more unified campus. We hear you! It's our privilege to facilitate bringing different campus constituents together to truly make AU a great place to work and be. When we consider that many of us spend more time awake at work than we do with our families, I think it's pretty darn important that we find this a fulfilling and meaningful place to invest our time and be. One of my favorite memories is from November 11, 2014. On that day, we hosted a simple breakfast in the Veterans' lounge on campus. During that time, we got to sit and talk with some of our brave veterans (THANK YOU!) and just do life together. Hearing their stories adds a whole new perspective to my experience as an AU employee and peer. To say it was inspiring is an understatement. I guess you'll just have to come next time and check it out for yourself!

Interview with Staff Council Liaison, Jarris Williams

Jarris Williams

What do you do now and what did you do before coming to AU?

I currently serve as the Case Manager in the Office of the Dean of Students. My primary role is to manage our care network on campus and meet with students in various types of crisis. Before transitioning to AU I worked as the Director of Student Activities at Endicott College in the Boston Massachusetts area.

I started in case management because I have a passion for interacting with and helping students. I also wanted a new experience working with college students having previously worked in residence life and student activities. My favorite part of my job is helping a student in crisis reach their personal and academic goals.

Where are you from? What did you study in University?

I'm originally from Youngstown, Ohio and received my masters degree from the University of Dayton in Ohio in Educational Leadership. I received my bachelors degree from Central State University in Ohio majoring in Recreational Administration.

What is one place you'd love to go, which you haven't visited yet?

One place that I would love to go but have not visited yet is Israel.

If you could be one fictional character, which one would you be and why?

I had had to pick a super hero to be it would probably be Batman because the Batmobile is super cool.

What do you hope to accomplish with Staff Council?

By being a member on Staff Council I hope to enhance staff experiences working at AU and also connect with other offices outside of OCL.