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July 7, 1997

Chancellor Greenwood fields questions during first forum with staff

By Jennifer McNulty

Chancellor Greenwood had a simple message for staff members during a recent lunchtime question-and-answer session: Staff play a vital and valuable role in the operation of UC Santa Cruz, and she will do everything she can to encourage them to contribute their ideas and enthusiasm.

Staff are a source of valuable cost-saving ideas, as well as ideas for how to improve the appearance of the campus, increase our impact, and make people feel better about what they're doing, Greenwood said during the forum with staff on June 24.

During the 45-minute session, her first campuswide meeting with staff, Greenwood fielded 10 questions that had been submitted in advance by members of UCSC's staff community. Roz Spafford, associate chair of UCSC's Writing Program, presented each question. About 75 people attended. (Full text of questions as they were submitted.)

Some of the topics covered were pay scales, workload, issues of diversity and racism, benefits for gays and lesbians, and a work culture that some describe as "an atmosphere of anger and mistrust."

Responding to a question about the high cost of living in Santa Cruz, Greenwood said that her human resources staff have assured her that "generally, our salaries don't rank below our colleagues at our sister institutions." She noted that exceptions can be found for individuals, but said that overall UCSC salaries are "not greatly different" than those at several UC campuses.

"We try to be competitive with the region we're in," said Greenwood, adding that an evaluation of UCSC's entire campus compensation program is under way.

On the issue of workload, Greenwood acknowledged that new technologies require an initial investment of time before they pay off, but she said they seem to be an inevitable part of our work lives.

Responding to another question, she agreed that some staff and faculty members who are people of color experience a "dual workload" as they face the challenges of getting their jobs done and also providing valuable support to students from similar backgrounds. The "dual workload" also affects some women, who have to perform their jobs, serve as role models, and do extra work at home, noted Greenwood, who said the phenomenon is one more reason to continue diversifying the campus.

"We need to bring more people of color to the staff," said Greenwood. If we build trust across racial and ethnic groups on campus, the responsibility for supporting students will be spread more broadly, she said.

The effort to diversify staff ties in with UCSC's outreach efforts, said Greenwood. "If we get more kids from different backgrounds to want to go to the university, (in time) we'll have a bigger pool (of potential employees)," she said.

Answering a question submitted by the American Indian Staff and Faculty Association about faculty insensitivity to racial problems on campus, Greenwood noted that she has received varied feedback from staff and students regarding the campus's climate.

"Some think it's a very negative place, and others think it's getting better," she said. But diversity is a priority of hers, and she has met with department chairs prior to searches and has talked with deans about the issue. Strengthening the curriculum can further build sensitivity, and providing a broader range of off-campus activities for students might satisfy the needs of students from different cultural and geographic backgrounds.

Another question described UCSC as a place that has cultivated a "culture of exceptional meanness." Although she personally has not detected such a problem in her office or the places she's visited, Greenwood expressed concern about the issue.

"You don't have to like each other--that is not a necessary requirement for working here. But you do have to be civil to each other, and you do have to work with each other," she said. "A level of civility and professionalism in the workplace is what I expect of myself, and I expect that of my staff. I hope that you all expect it of yourself and your staffs."

Options for employees or units that need assistance include turning to the Ombudsman's Office, seeking sensitivity training, and, as a last resort, job transfer.

"This is a professional institution," said Greenwood. "We are modeling for the next generation of California's leaders. In this beautiful environment, with everything else we have to do, it seems like life is far too short to be screaming at each other."

On the subject of "management by intimidation," which can stifle employee discussion of salaries, benefits, or compensation issues, Greenwood said institutions that have experienced downsizing may suffer a "lack of esprit de corps." But she said the campus must find new and "hopefully positive and constructive" ways to bring staff into discussions.

"It's a waste of talent if people with good ideas don't have a way of getting those good ideas into the process," said Greenwood.

Asked about policies that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, Greenwood expressed her own hope that family student housing, health coverage, and retirement policies will be seen as issues of compensation rather than ideology and will be broadened to cover all employees regardless of sexual preference.

"I very much support domestic partner benefits," she said, noting that the chancellors of all UC campuses agree. "It's an issue of fair compensation for equal work." The family housing policy will be a key topic in the next three to five months, when the UC Regents will examine the issue, she said. "The idea of being the marriage police is a little bit offensive to me," added Greenwood.

Addressing the issue of budgets and student enrollment, Greenwood said she anticipates a "stability phase" rather than more budget cuts. "We have to face the fact that the faculty-student ratio has changed forever," she said. "And we have to work as smart as we can."

Support for new initiatives will come from fund-raising efforts that will intensify as the campus prepares to launch its first capital campaign. Development officers are working more closely with foundations, and Greenwood intends to tailor some campus initiatives to fit those of the Office of the President.

Due to time constraints, Greenwood was unable to answer every question, but she closed the session by saying that she will continue interacting with staff at every opportunity.

The event was cosponsored by the UCSC Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action Office, the Diversity Education Program, the Women's Center, and the McHenry Library Outreach Team.

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