Natalie Schaffer and Manuel Garza
Staff Council members Natalie Schaffer, admissions manager for the School of Education and Human Development, and Manuel Garza, admissions counselor.

What You Need To Know About CU Denver’s Staff Council

Shared governance body prepares for election and stands up its first CU Denver-focused branch

March 14, 2023

There’s power in being part of a group that influences and impacts a greater community. One of those groups on our campus is Staff Council, a shared governance body dedicated to advocating for CU Denver’s staff. The council is currently undergoing two exciting changes: an election for 27 open seats and the split into two campus-specific groups (formerly, Staff Council was combined with the Anschutz Medical Campus).   

“It is incredibly rewarding to see and hear things I’ve said to leadership reflected in info sessions and/or communications sent by the Chancellor’s office,” said Staff Council Chair Ingrid Summers, Program Manager for the School of Education & Human Development. “It is exciting to feel like we are making change happen.” 

If you’re a staff member who is passionate about what the workplace at CU Denver looks like today and in the future, you may be a good fit for Staff Council. We talked to Summers and Staff Council Vice Chair Tammy Hassan, Operations and Logistics Manager for the College of Engineering, Design and Computing, to learn more about what Staff Council does and why it’s important to CU Denver. 

What is Staff Council?

Staff Council is a 40-person body of elected individuals from CU Denver that represent all staff employees. Its mission is to serve the common good of staff, communicate with a credible voice, promote an inclusive, transparent work environment, and engage staff at all levels of the campus community.  

“Shared governance is an essential component of our university,” said Chancellor Michelle Marks. “These bodies help us ensure that all staff and faculty voices are not only heard, but also integral to the vision and direction of CU Denver. As the representative body for staff on our campus, CU Denver’s Staff Council plays a significant role as a partner to our administration and a supporter of our incredibly committed and talented staff members.” 

A few examples of Staff Council’s roles and responsibilities include: 

  • Serving as representatives and advocates for CU Denver staff to the chancellor and cabinet, as well as the Board of Regents and State Personnel Board. 
  • Promoting unity, cooperation, and loyalty among all staff.  
  • Studying staff concerns related to management, operations, and administration, and making recommendations to CU Denver’s administration.  
  • Promoting and offering professional development and networking opportunities among staff.  
  • Representing staff interests on a variety of  boards, councils, and committees in areas including strategic planning, policy development, recruitment, retention, and staff recognition. 

“I love the impact we are making across so many lives,” Hassan said. “The ability to be a part of making change for the improvement of the work culture for staff is hard but valuable work.” 

Why is Staff Council important to CU Denver?

Staff Council helps ensure that all staff voices are heard and valued at CU Denver. Chairs and delegates meet regularly with campus leadership to discuss issues, concerns, and suggestions raised by staff, and delegates are encouraged to serve on search committees for campus leadership. A few of Staff Council’s accomplishments include: 

  • The Paid Parental Leave Policy, a direct result of Staff Council advocacy 
  • Recent improvements to CU Denver’s Employee Tuition Assistance Benefit, which allows eligible employees to receive a waiver for up to a total of nine credit hours of tuition each academic year 
  • The Employee of the Month Award, which honors staff with a certificate of recognition signed by the Chancellor and Staff Council chair and provides a gift card  
  • The Employee Satisfaction Survey, which was sent exclusively to CU Denver staff in fall 2022. More information on the results will be shared next month 
  • Reviving the Years of Service Awards event 

Who can serve on Staff Council?

Any full-time or part-time staff member! Staff Council strives to have representation from different backgrounds and experiences, as well as different schools, colleges, and units on campus. Eligible employees include classified staff, university staff (excluding university officer positions), consolidated staff who are based on the Denver campus, and those in the research assistant/associate series (including Peer Research Ambassadors).  

What is the time commitment?

The total time commitment is approximately three to six hours per month. Staff Council has one, two-hour meeting on the second Tuesday of each month, and members are expected to attend an annual full-day retreat (usually held in July), as well as volunteer, attend, and assist with events, workshops, and community service days throughout the year. In addition, each member serves on at least one standing committee and these committees typically require one to two hours of work per month.  

You may be wondering, is it worth it? According to two current Staff Council members, the answer is yes. Hear about their positive experiences in serving as a voice for staff and forming connections across the CU Denver community in the video below.