UCI hosted the quarterly meeting of the Council of University of California Staff Assemblies June 7-9, a series of roundtable discussions on matters that concern staff attended by UC President Robert C. Dynes, UCI Chancellor Michael Drake and delegates from throughout the university system.

Dedicated to promoting communication between staff and the administration, the council is an advisory board composed of three officers as well as two delegates from the university’s 10 campuses, national laboratories and Office of the President. Meetings rotate among the sites and take place at UCI approximately once every three years; the campus previously hosted the meeting in June 2003.

“This is our chance to come together to address issues at the systemwide level,” said Lynda Brewer, UCI delegate and assistant director of capital planning, who helped orchestrate the meeting with the campus’s senior delegate Stephanie-Jean Hinojosa, senior analyst with Facilities Management.

Chancellor Drake greets delegates

To kick off the two-day meeting, Drake welcomed approximately 30 delegates at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology. Drake delivered an update on the campus, calling it “a fascinating place” that has grown rapidly in its 41-year history. Noting that UCI has built a reputation as a renowned research university, he cited two future goals: adding professional schools, such as a proposed law school, and increasing the number of graduate students to support the creation of new knowledge.

President Dynes discusses UC’s strengths, challenges

On the second day of the meeting, President Dynes spoke at the University Club Library. The president expressed gratitude for ongoing support in the face of recent controversy over UC compensation and over-arching challenges.

“Maybe I had to go through the most excruciating six months of my life to find that I’m tougher than I thought I was. And I know how tough you are,” Dynes told the delegates.

Dynes described his darkest hour of doubt facing tough media coverage, and how the support expressed by deans, staff, faculty and students strengthened his resolve to continue fighting for the university.

“Looking forward, we’ve come through the ring of fire,” he said.

Dynes also focused on UC’s strengths, from allies (alumni associations, regents, the business community, the agricultural industry and the governor) to the university’s positive impact on state and international relations. He called for fiscal responsibility, increasing staff input and awareness of UC’s contributions, and encouraging innovative ideas to best compete in the future.

Arturo Ochoa honored for leadership

Delegates applauded Arturo Ochoa, senior stores supervisor in central distribution and recipient of UCI Staff Assembly’s 2005 Excellence in Leadership Award, who was presented with a citation from the council. Ochoa has served UCI for 20 years and was praised for his listening skills, ethics and genuine concern for his staff. “Art’s approach to staff and his sense of humor are seen as calming and reassuring when things get hectic,” said Hinojosa, who presented the award. “He is not bunkered in his office. He’s out interacting with staff, and they notice.”

EVC and Provost Gottfredson discusses career development

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Michael Gottfredson called for a shift in perspective – to consider working at the university as a “career” not a “job.” He acknowledged the need for competitive compensation, and identified seven ways to make UC “career friendly”:

  • Fairness – “equally compensating equally situated people”
  • Respect – all levels should be treated equally, citing a commitment to improving relations between academics and staff
  • Recognize collective endeavors – foster collaboration, fairness and respect
  • “Ferret out free-riders”
  • Focus on people’s long-term welfare through development and training
  • Reward “career” thinking – particularly supervisors, highlighting UCI’s “highly coveted” staff awards program
  • Consider all employees, no matter the role, as “enhancing UC’s mission, which is an incredibly noble organization”

Gottfredson stressed the importance of making UC a destination employer – “a place to go to spend your career.”

Other meeting notes

The meeting, headed by Rosemary Anderson, CUCSA chair, included presentations by UC Regent Russell Gould; Richard Demerjian, director of campus and environmental planning at UCI; David Bell of UCSF and Dave Miller of UCLA, staff advisers to the regents; and Randolph Scott, executive director, Systemwide Human Resources and Benefits Policy and Program Design.