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Arnold School of Public Health

An interview with Staff Senate representatives Dwaun Sellers and Andrenette Hudley

August 30, 2021 | Erin Bluvas,

UofSC’s first-ever Staff Senate is up and running, and the Arnold School is well represented with Dwaun Sellers as the school’s senator and Andrenette Hudley serving as secretary of the executive committee. Sellers and Hudley share the purpose of the Staff Senate, their roles and much more in this detailed Q&A.  

What is your staff position at the Arnold School?

Andrenette:  I am the HR/Business Manager for the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (COMD).  I have worked for COMD for three years and have worked at the university for six years.

Dwaun: I am the HR/Business Manager for Exercise Science – Athletic Training as well as the Administrative Coordinator for the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. I have worked in this position for three years and for the university for 10, just not consecutively.

What position do you hold within the Staff Senate?

Andrenette: I serve as the Secretary of the Staff Senate Executive Committee and as an Executive Committee Liaison to the Communications Committee. As secretary, I am responsible for maintaining and distributing accurate records, including executive committee meeting agendas and minutes, Staff Senate meeting agendas and minutes, attendance records for Staff Senate and executive committee meetings, and all official business conducted by the Staff Senate.  

Dwaun: I am the Staff Senator for the Arnold School and serve on the communications sub-committee. I see my role as the Arnold School Senator to voice the concerns of our staff and represent them in staff senate meetings and campus events. From the communications sub-committee, I was appointed the website manager for the Staff Senate UofSC page.

Why did you decide to join?

Andrenette: I joined the Staff Senate because it was an amazing opportunity, not only to serve the university, but to meet and network with other staff. Serving on the Staff Senate has given me a chance to have a closer look at how the university runs, what the important issues are for both the university and staff, and the process for effecting change. I have a better understanding of governance at the university as well as new insight into issues facing colleagues from other sectors across campus.

Other reasons why I joined:

  • To serve as an active link for meaningful information exchange between staff and administration relative to staff issues.
  • Voice in university affairs and to recommend action on issues.
  • To advise senior leadership on working conditions and employment practices, including recognition, compensation, and other pertinent issues.
  • To be involved in campus and community activities and increase my knowledge of operations of the University.

Dwaun: As the administrator for the Arnold School DEI office, I am one of the few people within our college that communicates with all Arnold School staff, so I was already in the position to receive staff correspondence on work-related issues or inequities. Seeking the nomination and title of Arnold School Staff Senator felt like a natural addition to my current role. I saw it as a way to further promote the idea of diversity, equity and inclusion for the college as well as connect with action-oriented staff across campuses.

How/why did the Staff Senate come about? 

Andrenette: It is such an accomplishment to have a Staff Senate on our campus. The Staff Senate of the university was created by the direction of the university staff to act by and for that body. President Caslen acknowledged the need and provided the support needed for the staff senate to develop. Leena Holt and Angela Wright, Staff Senate co-chairs, have been invaluable in laying a foundation through their research of similar groups at other universities, and in their diligent work to get bylaws written and officers placed. 

The Staff Senate is important because we serve as an open forum to facilitate communication and collaboration among university staff members.

Dwaun: I could not have said it better than Andrenette. Not to mention faculty senate was created in 1970 and even prior to that, without the official title. More and more staff are being recognized for their contributions, institutional knowledge and enduring presence at UofSC. Faculty and higher administration are finally starting to realize that we should have a seat at the table when important decisions are being made that affect the university as a whole.

What role will the Staff Senate play in the university?

Andrenette: The Staff Senate represents all classified and unclassified, temporary, temporary grant and time-limited staff employees at the University of South Carolina-Columbia. The Staff Senate serves as an advisory committee to the university president, adding an essential voice to strategic conversations and decisions that support the goals of the institution. It is intended to be a group gathered in the meaningful purpose of providing a voice to the many individuals that compose the staff of the university. The Staff Senate accepts and shares responsibility with the administration, faculty, and students for attaining the stated goals of the university and to foster a spirit of community.

The Staff Senate seeks to do the following:

  • Create an open forum to facilitate communication among staff and the administration.
  • Engage staff and bring their interests and concerns before the administration.
  • Explore solutions for more efficient and effective university operations.
  • Promote a positive campus climate and strengthen the sense of community among staff.
  • Participate in service work that supports the university and surrounding community.
  • Propose and support programs to enhance and encourage professional development.

Staff Senators serve as a voice for their respective unit, division, department, and entire staff body. The staff senator is responsible for distributing information of the Staff Senate efforts to their respective organizational unit(s) they represent and bring concerns and interests of staff employees to Staff Senate.

Dwaun: Again, Andrenette said it best, but I would like to drive home the point of Staff Senate creating a network of staff across our campuses to share institutional knowledge and communicate the wants and needs of staff as a whole. This is what I glean as the goal of Staff Senate. For too long staff have been overlooked and it shows; they have been in the shadows for so long that the spotlight burns. Staff senate is a way for all staff to be heard without everyone being seen.

How do you see yourself contributing to the Staff Senate’s work?

Andrenette: I see myself contributing by researching, advocating, making recommendations, and advising senior leadership as they make decisions on policies, procedures, and issues that affect UofSC staff.

Dwaun: I have a communications background, so to be appointed to that committee and subsequently named the site manager, meant my skills would be utilized but also expanded. I want to create a staff senate page that would be considered a one-stop shop for many staff resources, information as well as submitting a comment, suggestion or complaint.

How can other staff members within the Arnold School support you in these roles?

Andrenette: Staff members in the Arnold can support Dwaun and I by participating and engaging in conversations with us that promote the growth and welfare of staff and a positive and supportive work environment, attending full staff senate and committee meetings, and participating in activities and community projects that support staff.

Dwaun: Just by entrusting me to convey their comments and concerns without fearing any backlash. By making the time to attend any staff events I or Staff Senate produce and provide honest feedback. The best way they can support me as a Staff Senator is by sharing their work-experience with me – good or bad.

Anything else we should know?

Andrenette: The full staff senate meetings are held every second Tuesday from 3:00-4:00pm in the Lumpkin Room in the  Close-Hipp Building.

Dwaun: Just that they can reach out to me via phone, email or the Arnold School DEI ‘contact us’ page. I am happy to help and hear from any staff member who isn’t quite sure who to turn to for a work issue. ‘Teamwork makes the dream work’ and the Arnold School has an excellent team of staff that I am lucky to call my colleagues. I am honored to represent them as a Staff Senator and want to help in any way I can!

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