Employee Assembly News 11/2/12

Jean Boodley-Buchanan and Lavanya G. Sayam provide their perspectives on serving on the Employee Assembly.

A message from Jean Boodley-Buchanan

I have had an excellent and rewarding experience this past year as an elected member of the Employee Assembly. The EA has not only opened me up to many facets of the university and how it operates, but also has helped me be a voice for change on behalf of other staff at Cornell.

I have been privileged to work with fantastic staff from across campus as well as on two sub-committees — the Campus Planning Committee and the Personnel Policy Committee.

My hope as a member of the committee, representing the concerns of others, is to be a conduit for people to voice their concerns about any aspect of their working life at Cornell and receive real responses to their issues. I am actively following the responses of the administration to the Employee Engagement Survey, pressing for real points of action.

Already, I am proud to report that, as a direct response to staff concerns, the Personnel Policy Committee has been involved in changing university policy.

Please feel free to reach out to me to hear your concerns and to take them forward for discussion. I can be reached at jeb229@cornell.edu.

A message from Lavanya G. Sayam

I joined the Employee Assembly because I wanted to leverage my leadership skills to serve as the voice for the employee
community across Cornell. I wanted to help people around me as much as I could, especially in the difficult circumstances the university faced about a year and half ago. The EA gave me an opportunity to do much more.

As an at-large employee-elected member, I did not just watch, learn, discuss, debate and solve employee concerns in such areas as work pres- sure, transportation and campus governance; I also serve on the Campus Welfare Committee and Internal Operations and have chaired the Educa- tion Committee for more than a year, during which time the committee has grown from five to nine members.

The Education Committee strives to increase employees’ awareness about their educational benefits. We conducted a survey of employees who graduated after 2008 from an institution of higher education through the university’s Employee Degree Program. We received a phenomenal response rate of 71 percent, with many employees surveyed expressing a willingness to be contacted to provide advice and direction for future aspirants.

Also identified were three areas of concern that sometimes dissuade employees from trying to earn a degree: flexibility (or its absence) in schedules, supervisory support and tax implications. The committee also identified some innovative ways to encourage employees to utilize their educational benefits that we hope to work on implementing this year.

More information on the work of the Education Committee can be found at http://assembly.cornell.edu/ EAEducation/Home.

For me, the EA is just one more of the reasons why Cornell is such a “Great Place to Work”.

If you would like to know more about how we champion employees, feel free to contact me at lgs56@ cornell.edu .