Featured Senator Tom Gessells

Featured Senator — August 22, 2019

Tom Gessells

1. Please briefly describe USAC, your role as chair, and how you first came to be involved with the Senate.

The University Staff Advisory Committee (USAC) is an advisory body to university leadership, advocating on behalf of staff. USAC's mission is to maintain an active and participatory line of communication with the university community and to provide a forum through which university staff can raise, discuss, and make recommendations to support the University's mission. As Chair, I provided leadership, guidance and vision for the year to the full committee and executive committee. I first became involved with Senate through one of the first meetings I had a Chair to meet with Faculty leadership to share USAC's mission and plans for the 2019 – 2020 academic year and to begin discussions on adding staff senators to University Senate.

2. What roles did you serve in during your time in the Senate? What were your duties and what did you learn?

As USAC's Chair, I served as the sole staff senator (non-voting) within University Senate as well as serving on Senate Steering committee. I learned there were no voting staff senators within University Senate, although there were many faculty, administrators and students already part of University Senate. Staff presence was a key missing component.

3. How did USAC work with the Senate in the past and what inspired you to expand its role?

There's been a longstanding collaboration between USAC and senate in terms of membership on senate committees. Staff sit on a number of senate committees and have historically provided staff perspectives in these select committees. Since staff presence was missing from the larger University Senate body, I was inspired by the opportunity to have additional (voting) staff senators within University Senate. USAC's partnership with Senate, Faculty and Student leadership was essential in garnering support and momentum in making this historic change to add staff senators to University Senate.

4. How did serving on the Steering committee enable you to propose these changes?

While serving on Steering, I was able to better understand how senate worked and the process to propose changes to University Senate.

5. What did you learn about Senate processes through these changes to the Faculty Rules?

Lots of collaboration, partnerships and socializing of USAC's proposal to add staff senators.

6. What do you see as the positive impact of these changes moving forward?

There is now a staff presence within University Senate, although small, we're now part of the senate process.

7. What would you say to staff looking to get more involved?

Get involved! There are many opportunities as an OSU staff member to get involved… from staff events, to local (departmental or college level) Staff Advisory Committees, to OSU-wide University Staff Advisory Committee (USAC) to also being a Staff Senator on University Senate.