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Staff Commission Updated on Policy, Issues

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 1 - August 25, 1994

A university policy to promote internally without advertising off-campus, discontinued by the Wilder administration, can now be revived, Muriel Flynn, employment services manager in Personnel Services, told the Commission on Classified Staff Affairs at its August 10 meeting.

The governance body also was updated on the sexual harassment policy and decentralization and discussed changes to the state leave policy being considered by the governor's Blue Ribbon Strike Force. (Please see accompanying memo for the latest information on the leave-policy issue.)

Flynn said the university developed a policy in 1989 "on internal staff recruitment to promote our own employees and to encourage staff development," but the policy was superceded in March 1992 when "all state agencies were required to advertise all openings to the general public."

Even with the 1992 policy, he said, some positions were filled from within, in effect "jerking the public around." Now, he said, a return to the 1989 policy would allow promotions from within and only "real" positions to be advertised.

"We would have more flexibility in providing promotion and transfer to our employees," he said. Employees still in the probationary period would not be considered for promotion or transfer.

The university will still target positions needing affirmative-action recruiting. "If we have goals, we'll go outside," Flynn said.

"This is a more honest method of recruiting if there are strong internal candidates," said Ann Spencer, associate vice president for personnel and administrative services.

The CCSA approved a request from Spencer for commission endorsement to "come up with a policy like we had before. It would come back to the commission for review."

In other business, Elyzabeth Holford, director of the EO/AA Office, brought the group up to date and answered questions on the sexual harassment policy, which is slated to go before the University Council at its first meeting in the 1994-95 academic year.

Holford pointed to several improvements in the policy. When a panel hearing is requested, the panel will not be chaired by the investigator, as was the case in the previous policy, she said. She also mentioned the inclusion of a section iterating the responsibility of supervisors.

In response to commission concerns about the "guilty until proven innocent" atmosphere in sexual-harassment cases, she said, "Any policy that deals with behavior smacks of treating people as if they they're guilty before due process. It is difficult to balance between someone who comes forward with a complaint and notifying the alleged harasser. To alleviate the aura of going behind someone's back, once a record is kept, someone will be notified."

Holford said her office would begin training supervisors on the policy if it is approved by the council and the university's Board of Visitors.

The commission also heard an update from Spencer on decentralization. "We're asking for complete decentralization for personnel to allow us the opportunity to establish our own policies. That's not to say all the state policies are bad, but there are savings and improved efficiencies in all these areas. We want to eliminate overlap," she said.

Spencer said she would like to see the university develop its own leave policy and its own health benefits, which could become possible under decentralization. Ultimately, she said, the university wants to define employee classifications as well.

She said the university's proposals for decentralization are in the functional offices in Richmond and a response is expected by September 15.

Once the university receives an official response, she said she wants the commission to "have a strong role in working with us on this. As we get into new policies, new programs, that's where I'll be coming to the commission. Another role is facilitating communication within the university community." She said she would also look to the commission for assistance when policies are revised.

The commission will hold its next meeting September 14.

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