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The two-story brick Big Ten Center in Park Ridge, Illinois.

The Big Ten Center in Park Ridge, Illinois, near Chicago's O'Hare airport.

Getting the big picture

Big Ten academic staff meet in Chicago

By Randy Croce

From Brief, November 24, 2004

Academic staff at Big Ten universities now have a stronger, more formalized organization to share information and promote their interests. The Committee on Institutional Cooperation Association of Professional Staff Councils (CIC-APSC) emerged from a meeting in Chicago last month as an organization with a new structure and a more focused mission.

The meeting of professional staff councils drew 24 representatives from nine of the Big Ten schools. It was their fourth annual conference, this time hosted and chaired by the University of Minnesota's Council of Academic Professionals and Administrators (CAPA) at the Big Ten Center. Other participants came from the universities of Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin, Indiana University, Michigan State, Ohio State, Northwestern, and Purdue--all members of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC).

Together, the group consolidated the work of the last three years and moved forward to establish a governing structure, open more consistent communication, and agree on a slate of issues to advance over the next year.

Down to business

A June teleconference and a subsequent poll set the agenda. In preparation, institutional data was shared by e-mail.

On Sunday, the first day of the meeting, an orientation session presented the history of the academic professional and administrative (P&A) class in U.S. higher education and topics and accomplishments of the previous three years' meetings. This common background enabled the group to tackle substantive, contemporary issues at a day-long session on Monday.

Representatives discussed visions for the group and confirmed its mission statement and name. A four-person executive committee will govern the group and maintain consistency: it will be made up of a communications liaison and representatives from the previous, current, and future host university councils; the current host university's representative will chair.

Hosts and meeting dates for the next ten years were determined. Next year's host will be the University of Iowa Staff Council, followed by the University of Illinois Council of Academic Professionals in 2006.

An e-mail listserv and Web site for the group will be established within the next few months, in cooperation with the CIC. The purposes will be to share information among all of the councils and maintain an institutional memory.

Three major clusters of issues were covered during the rest of the session:

In reviewing comparisons of staff benefits throughout the Big Ten, the group noted three practices common to most of the institutions. All but the University of Wisconsin have domestic partner benefits. All but the University of Iowa have tuition remission (in whole or part) for employees taking university classes. Professional staff at all but the University of Minnesota and Michigan State can carry unused vacation days from one year to the next. CIC-APSC subcommittees are now drafting statements to recommend adoption of these best practices by all CIC member institutions. The group is advancing from collecting information to promoting policies that enhance the work life of academic staff persons at member universities.

Cochairs of the meeting were Randy Croce, CAPA representative from the Carlson School of Management; Frank Douma, CAPA's chair of Representation and Governance, a representative from the Humphrey Institute for Public Affairs; and Beth Emshoff, CAPA's chair of Benefits and Compensation, from the College of Human Ecology.

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