In early June, just in time for the summer heat, the University of Redlands Staff and Administrators Assembly (URSAA) treated employees to an ice cream social for its spring business meeting.
URSAA (typically pronounced “er sah”) is charged with providing a way for University staff and administrative personnel to participate actively in all areas of the campus community. It’s often the group behind the thoughtful gestures employees enjoy throughout the year (think candy grams, doughnut deliveries, and reserved parking spaces).
Nearing the end of her one-year term as URSAA president, Kelly Jones began the last meeting of the year by thanking her team. She named the ways in which the assembly upheld its purpose to enrich the experience employees have at the U of R––which segued into a special introduction. Jones invited the 2018 kickball league champions, the Grass Kickers, and the second place team, the Recess Rejects, to the stage and presented a medal to each player. The Recess Rejects took home the gold last year and were one run shy of defending their title this season.
Alex Irigoyen, chair of URSAA’s communications committee and executive board member, is the mastermind behind the U of R employee kickball league. The inspiration came after employees were polled about ways to strengthen the sense of community at the University. Irigoyen says, “I am heavily involved in youth baseball events outside of the U of R, so I thought this would be something I can help bring to the University that would promote wellness and opportunities to get to know other faculty, staff members, and administrators on campus.” Judging from the cheers when the winners were announced, the 2018 season fulfilled its purpose of instilling a sense of comradery in employees.
The meeting also included presentations from Provost Kathy Ogren, who spoke on U of R’s strategic plan North Star 2020, and Vice President of Enrollment Kevin Dyerly, who updated the audience on admissions at the University’s College of Arts and Sciences, School of Business, and School of Education.
Come July 1, the URSAA presidency will transition from Jones, who as past president will still play an active role in planning and activities for the 2018–2019 year, to Wes Head. A St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan and father of six (his newest addition barely a week old at the time of the meeting), Head has more than 10 years of experience at the University as part of Information Technology Services (ITS).
Head, who has a passion for professional development, announced an innovation to provide additional learning opportunities for employees: Tech Thursdays, a once-a-month half brainstorm session, half open forum on all things technology. The monthly gatherings are a response to a recent poll by ITS asking employees what they needed most from their ITS team. The answer, overwhelmingly, was more technology training.
Tech Thursdays will be one of many ways staff and administrators can get involved on campus in the coming year. These sessions factor into Head’s larger vision for employees getting the most out of the time they spend at work: he encouraged employees to learn how other areas of the University function, work across department lines, identify mentors, help others grow in their roles, and build relationships that make work less like work.
Head will rely on his administration to help bring his vision to life. As recently announced, the 2018–2019 URSAA officers are:
- Heather Lambeth of the School of Education, vice president
- Sabrina Wilhelm of Academic Success and Disability Services, secretary
- Khanhvy Nguyen of the School of Business, treasurer
Congratulations to those elected!
If you are an employee interested in becoming more involved at the U of R or to learn more about URSAA, visit http://sites.redlands.edu/ursaa/.