Preliminary work on a proposal to establish a Kent State University Staff Council began in late fall 2016. This was a result of several factors including: a request from then President Warren to establish a staff council for university employees, the university’s “Great Place Initiative” as part of the Strategic Roadmap, and the results of the climate study.
Historically, the last time Kent State had a staff council was in the early 2000s. The University Staff Advisory Council began in 2000 and existed for nine years, serving as an employee forum to share ideas and information related to specific university issues and topics.
A committee was formed by Mark Polatajko, senior vice president for Finance and Administration, to research and develop a draft proposal. Members of the committee included: Alfreda Brown, vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Jack Witt, vice president for Human Resources; Heather Adams, former executive director, Women’s and Gender Center; Michael Kavulic, director, Research Strategic Initiatives for the Division of Research and Sponsored Programs (renamed to the Division of Research and Economic Development in 2023); and Carla Wyckoff, formerly the director, Communications and Special Projects for the Division of Finance and Administration.
The committee conducted research on staff councils at other universities, looking at IUC schools and Kent State’s peer and aspirational institutions. Based upon this benchmarking and in consideration of the intricacies and operations of the Kent State system, the committee drafted a proposal for SVP Polatajko in August 2017. The proposal outlined the rationale for a council and the recommended steps to initiate it, as well as recommendations to solicit input from a sampling of Kent State staff prior to implementation. The committee felt strongly that this feedback was needed as the council was being formed, to ensure engagement and guidance from the stakeholders the council will be serving.
After consideration by SVP Polatajko, and initial discussions with President Warren, the proposal was given to the Great Places Initiative team in October 2017 for further development. The committee felt that the GPI effort provided an excellent conduit for direct insight from and engagement with staff on this matter.