Current and Past Initiatives

Throughout the year, Staff Senate focuses on different campus-wide initiatives.

The initiatives are determined by keeping a pulse on the trending topics within our campus, system, and nationally. 

Initiatives 2023 – 2024

Help make WCU the preferred place to work for individuals looking for a staff position
Knowing that much of recruitment and retention of quality employees is related to the culture and personality exhibited by the employer and location of employment, Staff Senate seeks to further present WCU as an exemplary place to work. Through our interactions across the state, WCU Staff Senators have established the healthy perspective that WCU is, if not the greatest, one of the best institutions in the UNC system when it comes to the quality of work life for our employees. Understanding our own limitations and weaknesses is important in improving upon the qualities which make our institution so wonderful to work at, but we also recognize we can improve on how we speak about our own experiences and expectations when communicating with our peers across the system. Further, we can reflect on where we, both as an institution as well as a guiding body can improve and work to enhance these areas.
Review and revamp our fundraising practices and goals to better serve WCU staff and their dependents
During the 2022-2023 fiscal year the WCU Staff Senate was able to raise >$9000 to put toward our scholarship which can be utilized by the dependents of WCU Staff members to ease the cost of an education at our great institution. While $9000 is not a small sum, we recognize we have done better in the past, and hope to do better in the future. Unexpected side effects of COVID and our outstanding fundraising events from 2021-2022 resulted in Staff Senate running into unexpected obstacles, limiting our ability to raise funds to the level we had in the past. For the 2023-2024 fiscal year we hope to review, and strengthen our practices, and partnerships to improve on the funds raised during the past year. This includes coming up with new ideas to pursue new fundraising avenues, as well as strengthening and leaning into our established programs with the purpose of having a greater pool of funds to draw from to offer the dependents of our staff the assistance they need to pursue their dreams.
Evaluate how our senators are elected while assessing the trends relative to who is nominated and who chooses to run for a delegate position
Continuing the initiative started during the 2022-2023 fiscal year, Staff Senate will evaluate our current elections process and review proposals on how to improve our senate makeup to best represent our staff. The continued alterations in staff position classifications along with current trends across the industry are creating a need to modify how a diverse and representative pool of senators can be elected to best speak for and represent the staff they serve. With the participation of multiple past Staff Senate Chairs, we hope to review a proposal for new election practices prior to the 2024-2025 Staff Senate election cycle.

Initiatives 2020 – 2021

Celebrate and Increase Local and Regional Impact

Staff Senate has worked extremely hard to enact and organize community service initiatives.  Through partnerships with the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL)the Division of Advancement, and other campus partners, along with Senate’s creation of a dedicated community service liaison, we have seen the tracking and overall adoption of service as a means of engagement increase.  We believe that we can grow these efforts and support a more robust and comprehensive approach to community engagement.  We also believe Staff Senate is uniquely positioned to work campus-wide to track and celebrate the impact of the WCU community engagement within our region.  To this end, our initiatives for the upcoming year include:  

  • Expand the Staff Senate community service initiative to include concerted efforts with Faculty Senate and SGA.  In collaboration with CCESL and WCU Human Resources – develop system to track and report on comprehensive WCU impact related to community service. Additional internal stakeholders could also include WCU economic development leaders.
  • Identify new and expand existing partnerships within the Jackson Co / WNC community. 
Operational Excellence

We will build on the Senate’s work to enhance staff excellence and collaboration across campus. This includes partnerships with HR, especially related to new employee orientation and onboarding. Staff Senate believes we can serve a role in the orientation process to communicate the role of the Senate and the shared values of diversity and inclusive excellence at WCU.  To this end, our initiatives for the upcoming year include:  

  • The SHARED EXPERIENCE for WCU staff – engagement with new employee orientation and focus on WCU Diversity Plan.
  • Continue Senate work on training and onboarding consistency for all employees with a plan for deployment and promotion.
  • Support efforts of the University to work with supervisors and employees on remote work arrangements, flexibility, defined outcomes, schedules, etc. 
Employee Wellness

The Senate’s purpose, per its bylaws, is “…to facilitate communication…concerning general employee interest and concernsand to encourage the “development of constructive suggestions for more efficient operations”.  The Senate is uniquely positioned to serve as an advocacy body on items related to employee mental health and wellness.  This year, we seek to support research and data collection in order to better inform stakeholders about the mental health and wellness concerns of staff members.  To this end, our initiatives for the upcoming year include: 

  • Identify opportunities for partnership with Faculty and Students (ieProgrammingdata collection, campus wide norming efforts)
  • Assist in providing educational tools to supervisors and staff members to aid in conversations about mental health and wellness. 
Ongoing Senate Focus
  • Employee Reward & Recognition – individualized celebration for going above and beyond
  • Full utilization of the professional development allocation  
  • Staff Senate Scholarship fundraising and award process
  • Further refine and document internal Staff Senate procedures and continuity of operations planning.  ie. Teams, bylaws review and election procedures. 

Initiatives 2019 – 2020

Employee Reward and Recognition

In response to the feedback from the UNC EmployeeEngagement Survey, the Staff Senate will focus on employee reward and recognition, an area that the campus has identified as a growth opportunity. The Senate has secured a recurring allocation to address improvement strategies in this area. The Senate has drafted a proposal about how to allocate those funds to address the topic. A draft of ideas, including this and others, follows:

  • Use new allocation to improve years-of-service recognition, and increase staff awards
  • Staff Senate will need to be involved in the development of the event and plaques recognizing years-of-service honorees.Development of this plan, through a partnership with HR, Creative Services, and Special Events, will be especially time consuming the first year.
  • Employee recognition in the newsletter
  • Informal employee recognition, generated by programming from the Senate
  • Sharing best practices for employee recognition across the divisions
Professional Development

The Staff Senate has identified a need to provide a pool of centralized funds that is used to support staff training and development campus-wide. The need for this funding has been supported through an exploratory survey. One-time funding has been requested. If secured the Senate will need to develop and execute a strategic approach to:

    • Marketing the program to all areas of staff at the university
    • Reviewing applications and awarding money in a timely and equitable manner
    • Exhausting available funds
    • Spreading the funds across the institution
    • Making sure that employees and departments benefit appropriately from this investment
    • The first year will be especially critical and time-consuming, as this will lay the groundwork for future funding requests and program management strategies.
Orientation and On-boarding

The way the university on-boards new staff is crucial to their successful integration into the institution and their ability to be effective and efficient in their new roles. While orientation for staff has improved in recent years, this continues to be an area that could benefit from enhancements, and one that staff routinely mention as a suggestion for improvement. Examples of activities related to this are:

  • Re-orientation programs for existing employees
  • Advocating for the development of improved resources for new employees (manuals, training, documentation)
  • Socials and other special invitations for new employees
  • Reworking the Senate’s “Welcome to Western” communication
  • Improving the campus perception of orientation at WCU

Initiatives 2018 – 2019


Achieve sustainable funding for annual Staff Senate Scholarships by growing the endowment to $100,000.

Professional Development

Identify professional development needs for staff related to current roles and responsibilities, or anticipated changes. Advocate for creation of a campus wide professional development fund.


Strengthen and foster an inclusive environment for staff on campus by engaging in the WCU Campus Community.

Wellness Initiatives

Advocate and model the way to build a healthy, positive and thriving WCU Campus Environment. Empower staff by providing educational opportunities to take ownership for their own wellness.

Community Service Initiatives

Organize and manage community service opportunities for WCU employees as a way to support the local community, cultivate partnerships, and create meaningful engagement.