Although secretaries, delivery persons and gardeners might not have the most visible jobs at the University, these and other staff positions got their time in the limelight Wednesday afternoon at the University’s first Staff Day.
Free food, T-shirts and performances by staff musicians drew hundreds of University staff members to Coffman Union and the St. Paul Student Center during the afternoon. Another celebration was planned for the second- and third-shift workers late Wednesday night.
“It came out of the fact that visibility is always given to students or faculty, which is fine,” said George Hoh, chairman of the Staff Day planning committee. “But no one ever says anything about the more than 9,000 staff members that work here.”
The event was brought upon by the University’s civil service committee and bargaining units. The University helped out with the event’s costs, which topped $37,000, although sponsors such as University Bookstores and Aramark Corp. pitched in for the celebration.
Various speakers were featured at the event, including Bev Hall from the University bargaining unit. She said a day to celebrate staff members was long overdue.
“No one here is just another employee,” Hall said. “Without (staff), the University couldn’t and wouldn’t function.”
University President Mark Yudof was slated to speak at both campuses, but was bedridden because of illness.
Event planner Stephanie Dilworth, vice chairwoman of the civil service committee, said the day was created to honor workers whose jobs are often unrecognized by the University at large.
“The staff generally is invisible around the University,” she said, adding that the event was a chance for workers to get together and have a good time: “It’s a celebration of working here at the University.”
Although the term “staff” can be hard to define, it can be applied to most workers other than faculty at the University, Hoh said.
Standing with a group of fellow employees, Dan Rivera from Facilities Management said he appreciated the event and the chance it gave him to mingle with other workers.
“I’ve been here for 20 years, and we’ve never had a day like this,” Rivera said.
“It’s nice to be recognized and appreciated for your efforts,” added Larry Halling, an employee of University Stores.
Peg Dimatteo, associate director of student services for the School of Public Health, said she had been looking forward to the celebration, which promises to become a yearly event.
“It’s important for everybody to feel like they have value to the University; this is a way to show it.”