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Staff council presidents gear up for busy year

September 6, 2016

Holly Nicholson and Cathy Doederlein

The presidents of NIU’s Supportive Professional Staff Council and Operating Staff Council are looking forward to a productive year of shared governance.

For Holly Nicholson, second-year president of the Operating Staff Council and a web content manager in the Division of Marketing and Communications, her nomination came as a surprise but offered an intriguing opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Andy Small and Jay Monteiro.

“I’ve found this to be a really important way to serve the university. My privilege to speak up on behalf of 1,500 Operating Staff employees is a great honor,” Nicholson says.

“I love working with the administration and the council, and being able to bridge that communication,” she adds. “My goal is to improve our communication to the rest of the campus.”

The Operating Staff Council is an integral part of NIU’s governance system through its participation, communication, advisement and assistance on the resolution of issues and the formulation of policies relevant to the general welfare of operating staff employees.

Nicholson’s goals for the 2016-17 year include a climate survey – a similar assessment conducted a few years ago provided insight on the Civil Service workplace atmosphere and spurred new initiatives, including professional development opportunities – as well as employee morale and wellness.

“We’ve been focusing on morale for the last couple of years,” she says, “and this year we have added a standing committee for employee morale.”

Meanwhile, she adds, Operating Staff employees who attended their council’s annual Staff Fest celebration in early August were encouraged to improve their health by drinking more water. To that end, each who attended the event received a free Mavea water filter pitcher. 

For Cathy Doederlein, the new president of the Supportive Professional Council, the main objective of the year is the completion of a climate survey of SPS employees in the spring. “Those findings will guide the council’s goals moving forward,” she said.

“Our survey covers everything, from the general campus climate and opportunities on the job to ways in which we can improve things for them,” says Doederlein, director of Internships and External Relations in Career Services. “It’s a good barometer for us to create plans and ideas to share with the president’s cabinet and the other shared governance committees and organizations.” 

The council provides communication to more than 800 SPS employees on campus. It also serves as a vehicle for articulating the interests and concerns of SPS employees to other constituents of the university community. 

Personally speaking, Doederlein says she hopes to perpetuate the level of leadership and advocacy demonstrated by past council presidents Deb Haliczer and Steve Builta.

“I’ve really valued my time with the council as a member and I’ve seen the contributions the council makes to the university as a whole — especially to its SPS constituents,” she says.

“We’ve had the good fortune to have some really outstanding people in the president’s role in the past, and they’ve set a great precedent,” she adds. “It looked like a role that I could definitely contribute to and grow with. They’ve already done such a good job of blazing the trail, and I hope I can continue on with the tradition.”