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Staff Senate proposes new way to engage staff members

Cameron Shaw
WKU Staff Senate Chair Tanya Vincent speaks to the staff senate at their first meeting of the fiscal year on Monday.

In the 2024-25 Staff Senate’s first meeting of the fiscal year Wednesday morning, fresh ideas for staff engagement were brought to the table by the new senate chair, Tanya Vincent.

Vincent proposed various ideas to engage staff for the upcoming year like hosting various staff senate “open-houses” for campus-wide staff members to raise questions and concerns in a more relaxed environment.

“I think it would be a good way to get our name out there,” Vincent told the senate. “We want more people to join, and we want to be doing more.”

The open-house proposal received positive feedback from the senate members.

“A lot of times people seem like they’re hesitant to express themselves in a meeting like this,” Senator James Hopwood said.

An official meeting setting, Hopwood said, is intimidating for some staff members. An open-house environment, he said, could be beneficial for staff to discuss concerns and questions with the senate members because it could be more personable.

“It can just be intimidating to come in here and voice your opinion on something for fear of whether it be retaliation or whatever the case might be,” Hopwood said.

Vincent agreed with Hopwood that the more professional environment in the senate chambers could repel staff members that have opinions they want to voice. She said an inviting space with refreshments and informal conversation may ease any nerves for those that do not want to attend a formal meeting.

“They may come, they may not,” Vincent said, “But if we don’t try it then we won’t know for sure.”

Co-Chair of the University Committee Tishiba Roberson and Vincent suggested providing interactive boards or anonymous “drop-boxes” for staff members to share their opinions and questions safely.

“Just anything that we can engage them and get information from them that maybe can help the experience that they have here at Western as a staff member,” Roberson said.

Other items discussed at the meeting included:

  • Bestowing the July 2024 Christopher Ware Staff Star Award to Elizabeth Gannon, coordinator of student services and outreach for the Mahurin Honors College; Janet Haynes, administrative coordinator for the history department; and Sabrina Pate, office coordinator for campus recreation and wellness
  • Suggesting a potential readjustment of the staff engagement survey
  • Planning to discuss the university accreditation process

The staff senate’s next meeting will be on Aug. 7.

News reporter Cameron Shaw can be reached at [email protected].

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