P&A employees promote involvement in governance

There are more than 5,000 professional and administrative employees at the University of Minnesota.

Danielle Nordine

The Council of Academic Professionals is working to have professional and administrative employee involvement in University of Minnesota committees included each year within their performance reviews. CAPA has proposed a resolution, which will be voted on by the Faculty Senate in May, which would add P&A employee participation in governance to performance reviews and would encourage supervisors to actively support their employeesâÄô involvement in governance. P&A employees include any employee who is not a tenure or tenure-track faculty member or a civil service or unionized employee. There are about 5,000 P&A employees at the University, ranging from assistant professors and researchers to program directors and coaches, Croce said. The resolution was unanimously supported by the Senate Committee on Faculty Affairs earlier this month, and has moved to the Faculty Consultative Committee and will be voted on by the University Senate in May. However, even if passed by the Faculty Senate, the resolution would not be binding. The same policy is making its way through the University administration, so this resolution would send a message of support and âÄúnudge alongâÄù the policy, SCFA member Randy Croce said. âÄúSince most P&As are supervised by faculty, it just makes sense to go to the source for support on this,âÄù CAPA chair Sarah Waldemar said. For faculty, service to the University, including participation in governance, is a part of annual evaluations and tenure consideration. However, there is no similar kind of provision for P&A employees on their evaluations. âÄúWe want the University Senate to endorse the idea that P&A involvement is important to the University and is a valuable use of P&A time,âÄù Croce said. All University committees have positions available to P&A employees, but some areas of the University have traditionally been underrepresented, said Frank Douma, a member of CAPA. âÄúThe opportunity to serve is there, but some P&A employees have not participated due to a lack of clarity or outright resistance to their participation,âÄù Douma said. The goal of the resolution is not only to recognize employees for their involvement, but also to encourage more people to participate and be âÄúfree of concern that such activities might adversely impact their annual performance reviews,âÄù according to the resolution. Most faculty and staff, including University President Bob Bruininks, have been supportive of P&A governance participation, Croce said, but some employees have run into problems. Budget issues have led to concerns regarding how employees are spending their time, especially some P&A employees who are working on sponsored projects or are funded by grants, Waldemar said. âÄúSponsors want to pay [employees] for their research time and not something else than that,âÄù she said. âÄúParticipation in governance and outside activities has to be covered by another source of funds, which can get complicated.âÄù P&A governance committees were created shortly after the classification began in the 1980, with the formation of the Academic Staff Advisory Committee which was eventually changed to CAPA. However, P&A employees were not able to be members of the University Senate until 2006, Douma said. The University was one of the first schools to add P&A employees to its governmental body. Participation in governance is important for professional development as well as for a balanced voice in University governance, Croce said. âÄúWe want everyone to be brought to the table and be able to participate in determining the UniversityâÄôs direction.âÄù