SAC Targets Communications and Access

October 14, 2003

Arthur Nead
Phone: (504) 865-5714

Staff Advisory Council members meeting When its yearly elections wrapped up in May, the Tulane University Staff Advisory Council welcomed its new officers and cleared the decks for a new year of activities.

The council's chair, Mary Little, is a medical research specialist at the primate center and a 35-year employee at Tulane. Little served as chair last year, and was returned for a second one-year term by the staff electorate.

"I think we are doing the best we can possibly do to make ourselves visible and accessible to our staff," says Little, who notes that the Staff Advisory Council board has taken several actions to enhance how it can better serve the staff, including last year's redistricting to promote better representation through monthly meetings and its three seats in the University Senate.

An earlier system of dividing up the university into some 36 department-based representative districts proved to be too cumbersome, the council decided, so working through its committees over several years, it developed a simpler, more streamlined plan.

The council's membership now consists of representatives from three districts, officers, members-at-large and ex-officio members. The three new districts are uptown, with 15 members; downtown, with 13 members; and the primate center, with 2 members. The new system, according to Little, gives staff members a larger pool of people to whom they may go with comments or for assistance or complaints. Being increasingly accessible to help staff and keeping lines of communications open are vital, according to Little.

"One objective we completed this year was the expansion of our electronic communications to broaden dissemination of information about Staff Advisory Council events and activities to staff," she says. The council's website is

In other initiatives, the May election was the council's first to be conducted online, and the council disseminates information to staff members through an e-mail listserv. It also held a free Green Wave football ticket raffle accessible online this fall for staff members.

"And we are conducting online surveys," says Little, "which are a useful tool to get to the core of staff opinion." Another priority of the Staff Advisory Council, says Little, is getting staff involved in community service projects.

Earlier this year staff, members volunteered, along with Tulane alumni, students and administrators, to help refurbish Charles J. Colton Jr. High School in New Orleans. The council is currently recruiting volunteers for the American Heart Walk in City Park on Oct. 18. (For information and links, visit the council's website.)

"We're working with the administration to equalize staff retirement benefits with faculty," says Little. "We had the quarter-percent increase announced by the administration in June. "We've also been working with human resources for the last year on a form for exit interviews," says Little. "This would be a great tool. With it they could look at trouble areas to identify where problems are and correct them."

As in years past, the Staff Advisory Council is planning for its annual staff recognition luncheon with Tulane President Scott Cowen, scheduled for Jan. 30 at the Radisson Hotel on Canal Street. "Because of the renovations to the University Center, this year we will be returning downtown," says Little. "We hosted more than 700 staff last year. It's been growing each year."

Little's involvement with the Staff Advisory Council has been highly rewarding, she says. "In the last four years of serving with staff advisory I've met many wonderful people at all levels of Tulane," says Little. "It's changing, it's ongoing. There's always something new and refreshing going on."

Arthur Nead can be reached at

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Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000