Staff Advisory Council focuses on mentoring, outreach

Alyssa Wray and Denise Fitzgerald

Staff Advisory Council (SAC) Chair Alyssa Wray and Denise Fitzgerald work together to bring campus community together

Adapt, stay positive and look to support, advocate and continue to cultivate staff.

While those words are not a University of the Pacific Staff Advisory Council (SAC) mantra, they were mentioned by Chair Alyssa Wray in describing SAC’s approach during a pandemic-fueled, challenging year.

“This is not the type of year we anticipated, but our entire campus community still has great needs and we want to be there to serve,” said Wray, who will be SAC chair through June 30.

“We are trying to be creative and positive, and that has an impact on people,” added Denise Fitzgerald, who will be next year’s SAC chair. “It has been a challenge, but it has made us stronger.”

The efforts of SAC have been noticed and appreciated.

“Difficult times reveal character and leadership. The last year has certainly been a historically challenging time for the entire world, and the SAC has responded in simply extraordinary ways,” Pacific President Christopher Callahan said. “Led by Alyssa Wray and Denise Fitzgerald, SAC has worked tirelessly – and selflessly – on behalf of our students and university.”

Wray and Fitzgerald both are business managers – Wray for Pacific Athletics and Fitzgerald for Pacific Technology. They shared information on some SAC programs.

Staff-to-staff mentoring

SAC has started a pilot program that links experienced staff members with younger staff or newcomers.

Currently, there are four such mentor-mentee relationships in the pilot program. It kicked off, appropriately enough, during National Mentoring Month (January).

SAC leadership hopes the program can be expanded in future years.

 “It is a little early to look ahead to next year because we are still learning from what is happening in our pilot,” Fitzgerald said. “But we will get feedback from those involved. We are so pleased that we have started the program. Mentoring is such an important part of the workplace.”

Diversity, equity and inclusion efforts

Joshua Harzman, assistant director of housing for the Sacramento campus, is serving as a SAC representative on Pacific's University Committee for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (UCDEI).

“We received a thank you from (UCDEI co-chair) Marshea Pratt for having Joshua serve on UCDEI,” Wray said. “We are considering how we can incorporate DEI considerations into all things we do to best serve our constituency.”

Wray noted other positives:

  • Representation before the Board of Regents has afforded SAC the opportunity to share DEI concerns and be part of solutions.
  • SAC has a say in the ongoing search for the newly created Vice President of DEI.
  • At SAC’s annual holiday retreat, membership did trivia on all holidays that occur near the end of the year.
  • A SAC check-in survey asked demographic questions to help leadership understand who makes up the SAC constituency.

Student Appreciation Campaign

It is not a coincidence that the Student Appreciation Campaign and Staff Advisory Council have the same initials.

The adopt-a-student campaign in December reached out to students to show support during the busy end of the semester.

“The purpose of this initiative was really to support and uplift our students. After talking with the ASuop president (Randi Holguin), it was clear not only does staff miss students, but students miss staff,” Wray said.

The 115 SAC members who participated sent more than combined 3,500 emails of support to students.

Bored With the Board

SAC leadership decided to add fun to their interactions with a series of virtual get-togethers called, tongue-in-cheek, “Bored with the Board.”

Staff members folded Origami and made wreaths. On Jan. 26, Fitzgerald was on-stage via Zoom with a tasty topic: making enchiladas.

Other fun get-togethers are scheduled soon, including making an easy catnip toy and bath bombs.
“People are enjoying this series where we can come together and get to know each other outside of the usual work conversations,” Wray said.

“From the holiday reach-out program aimed at students to the innovative staff mentoring program, SAC has exemplified the best of Pacific’s values, traditions and spirit,” President Callahan said. “It’s an honor to work with Alyssa, Denise and the rest of the SAC team. They make us better every day.”

SAC meets from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on the second Thursday of each month. The next (virtual) meeting is Feb. 11. Information on SAC programs also is available on the Hot Topics newsletter.