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Staff Senate discusses new Pilot Mentoring Program for staff women

By Netta S. Eisler

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 10 - October 27, 1994

Rona Vrooman spoke at the regular monthly meeting of the Staff Senate last week. She discussed the new Virginia Tech Pilot Mentoring Program for staff women.

The idea of a mentoring program has been discussed for a long time, Vrooman said. Last year, Deb Potts, then president of the Virginia Tech Women's Network, approached Vrooman and Ann Spencer for support in applying for a grant to begin such a program. A grant was funded by EO/AA, and the pilot phase is being set up now.

"All research about mentors says it doesn't matter what you do--it matters what kind of person you are," Vrooman said. She encouraged Staff Senate members to sign up as mentors, who can be male or female full-time classified staff members. Proteges--those working with the mentors--must be female full-time classified staff members.

The program requires a time commitment of two to four hours per month in face-to-face meetings. The protege may need to spend additional hours in self study. With the approval of the supervisor, some or all of the time may be charged to academic leave. "But all time is subject to the approval of your supervisor," Vrooman said. "If your supervisor doesn't approve the time, it must be outside work hours."

The pilot program limits the number of mentor-protege pairs to 25. Vrooman said she foresees the program expanding to include more pairs as well as part-time staff members. She encouraged anyone with questions to call her at 1-9652.

In other business, the senate elected Brenda Neidigh, a grants specialist in the College of Engineering, to serve on the Commission on Administrative and Professional Faculty Affairs.

President Wyatt Sasser discussed the problem of maintaining a current list of which senators serve on what committees. The executive committee will review the current list, send electronic mail messages to senators for verification, and then request that the list be published in Spectrum.

"Our body changes by one third every year and we get new blood in the senate," Sasser said. "I think that's great. But I think we're losing sight of our goal." Sasser said the senate should be a watchdog on campus. "We need to keep an eye on what the university is doing with respect to the classified staff," he said. The senate must ensure "that what happens will be of benefit to us as well as to the university. The only way to do this is to review what commissions and committees are doing."

Sasser reminded senators serving on university commissions and committees to bring reports of all meetings to Staff Senate meetings. If something that happened at one of those meetings is "of major interest, you owe it to this group to put it forward," he said.

Peggy Rasnick said the Elections and Nominations committee is collecting names for future vacancies on commissions and committees. Forms were went to area representatives.

"Commissions are where the action is--that's where the governance is done," said Marge Dellers.

Bhaba Misra reported on the university's new class-attendance policy, which gives professors the option of deducting points from grades of students who miss classes. "The SGA is trying to get it rescinded," Misra said. After discussion and agreement that such a policy can be difficult for staff members, who sometimes must miss class because of work obligations, the senate decided to present a resolution of support for rescinding the policy.

In other business, Deb Williams was appointed to head an ad-hoc committee to keep the senate informed about the activities of the Governor's Blue Ribbon Strike Force.

Tony Sutphin was appointed to serve on the committee to select this year's winners of the President's Award of Excellence.

The senate also discussed academic year appointments and the re-establishment of the university's internal-recruitment policy.

Sasser told the senate that the search committee for the senior vice president and provost is soliciting questions for interviews. Questions may be sent to LMART@VTVM1 by October 28.