UCI News

A Q&A with Staff Advisor Lynda Brewer

January 19, 2007
A Q&A with Staff Advisor Lynda Brewer

Regents voted Jan. 18 to make the Staff Advisors a permanent part of the governing process. This decision gives two staff members from the UC system a voice – though not a vote – in the regents’ decision making. The continuation means that Lynda Brewer, the first employee in the UC system to be chosen for the role under a formal selection process, will complete her two-year term, which ends July 2008; the period to apply for the second Staff Advisor position currently held by Dave Miller of UCLA, whose appointment ends this July, will be Jan. 29-Feb. 28. For more information, visit the UCOP Staff Advisor Web site athttp://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/staffadvisors/.

Q: Now that you’ve had first-hand experience as Staff Advisor to the Regents, why do you feel the program is worth continuing?

LB: We’ve helped raise the regents’ awareness of the role staff plays in achieving the goals and objectives of the University of California. Staff is the engine that drives the university, and I think a lot of the regents didn’t understand the impact staff has on research, on the delivery of education and on students’ lives. To have a dialogue, to give the regents examples of staff’s contributions, has been an eye-opener for many of them. It’s enlightening for them to hear stories from those in the trenches.

Q: As a Staff Advisor, what have been your primary responsibilities?

LB: In addition to attending regents’ meetings and special events, Staff Advisor Dave Miller of UCLA and I have been building relationships with the individual regents. We’ve met two-on-one with the Los Angeles-area regents, and we’re planning to meet with regents in the Bay Area this month. It helps to build trust and understanding, and gives us a chance to increase communication between the staff and regents. We’re also working on a new Staff Advisor Web site that will ask staff for comments about various issues and feature a video gallery of the regents, so staff can get to know them. Many people don’t realize that serving as a regent is a huge commitment. It’s a voluntary position that takes 12 years of their lives. These are extremely busy business leaders who are incredibly committed to the success of the university.

Q: The Staff Advisors have a non-voting presence on two committees. Which committee were you assigned to, and what issues have you considered?

LB: Last July, UC President Robert Dynes and UC Regent Chairman Gerald Parsky decided both Staff Advisors would serve on the educational policy and finance committees (instead of grounds and buildings), because many decisions that come before the finance committee affect staff. The committee deals with UC’s budget and debt capacity, and because I come from a planning and budget background, I understand the mechanics. For me, though, a big item that came up was when the educational policy committee considered the new law school at UCI. It was nice for me to be there with my campus colleagues, as the law school was being approved.

Q: How has the Staff Advisor program been received by the regents and others in the UC community?

LB: We’ve been really fortunate in being received so well. We’re starting to be treated like members of the team. Our opinion is being sought out by the regents. They’ve also appointed us to a number of subcommittees and councils. I was appointed to the UC staff diversity council currently being formed by the OP. These are positive markers of success. In addition, chancellors and other administrators throughout the UC system are interested in meeting with us. Our goal is to become better known among the staff.

Q: Do you feel you’re making a difference?

LB: Yes, I think we’re making a huge impact. We’re not just window dressing; our opinions are taken seriously, and that’s very rewarding. The Staff Advisor program is a bold commitment on the part of the regents. It’s the first time in UC’s 139-year history that the regents have included staff in their decision-making. We’re now part of the family.