USAC presents staff with new options to participate in spring wellness days

March 04, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Striving to create opportunities for staff to feel supported and recognized, the University Staff Advisory Council (USAC) has announced its sponsorship of speakers for the remaining wellness days.

On Thursday, March 11 from 10:30 a.m. to noon, Penn State alumnus, ice hockey coach and motivational speaker Joe Battista will present on “Building Resilience and Endurance at Home and at Work with P.A.S.S.I.O.N.”

On Wednesday, April 7 from 3:00 to 4:15 p.m., nonverbal communication expert Jan Hargrave will present “Actions Speak Louder than Words: Nonverbal Communication that Builds Trust and Well Being During Virtual Conversations and Social Distancing.”

Anyone interested can register for the events at the Penn State wellness days website.

The topics, speakers and timing were carefully planned to offer staff two additional resources to choose from when taking time during wellness days to focus on their self-care and wellbeing. The topics align with the wellness day themes of intellectual and spiritual wellness for March and physical and environmental wellness for April.

After hearing concerns from staff about how to engage in University wellness days, USAC officer Jane Pflaum proposed the idea that the council sponsor specific programming for staff. “Our speakers will focus on well-being, resiliency, self-care, and how to effectively maneuver the Zoom environment,” Pflaum said. “We hope that staff will be able to take the much-needed time to pause and participate in these sessions.”

For those unable to join the scheduled session, the presentations will be recorded and available on the Penn State Learning Resource Network for later viewing.

Other recent USAC updates

Penn State’s new Senior Vice President for Finance and Business/Treasurer Sarah Thorndike met with USAC on March 1 to learn more about the council’s goals and structure, and share her vision for her role moving forward.

“I was most excited about this position because I recognized Penn State’s forward thinking in setting resource optimization as a strategic initiative. The goal of bringing all the campuses, colleges, and units together to strengthen the overall University—that spoke volumes to me,” Thorndike said. She thanked USAC members for their work to strengthen Penn State and “contributing to the important work of supporting our University staff.”

Special guests at USAC’s previous Feb. 17 meeting included Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses Madlyn Hanes and Kelly Wolgast, assistant dean for outreach and professional development in the College of Nursing and director of Penn State’s COVID-19 Operations Control Center.

Hanes shared an overview of Penn State’s Commonwealth Campuses, emphasizing the value of the University’s structure as one University geographically dispersed that allows for students to transition seamlessly within the Penn State system. “The Commonwealth Campuses comprise a large enterprise which serves a highly diverse student body, often of modest resources,” Hanes said. “Our commitment to living the land grant mission of affordability and accessibility is central to our mission.”

Hanes also acknowledged the importance of USAC’s mission, and the benefits of council, across the entire Commonwealth. In order to increase awareness of USAC’s impact University-wide, she extended an invitation to USAC representatives to share information with Commonwealth Campus leadership at an upcoming Council of Campus Chancellors meeting.

Wolgast joined USAC to answer questions and discussed Penn State's spring 2021 testing strategy. She said the COVID-19 Operation Control Center’s main priority continues to be promoting the health and safety of all campuses and surrounding communities.

Upcoming USAC activities include the annual USAC summit on March 30, in addition to regular March meeting featuring Executive Vice President and Provost Nick Jones and Vice President for Human Resources and Chief Human Resources Officer Lorraine Goffe.

April’s USAC meeting will feature Shakoor Ward, professional development coordinator in the Affirmative Action Office. May’s meeting is scheduled to include three guest speakers: Christy Helms, senior director of Talent Management in Human Resources; Susan Cromwell, senior director of organizational change management in Finance and Business; and SIMBA Program Manager Matt Scott.

USAC membership applications closing soon

The application deadline for Penn State staff from across all campus locations to apply for USAC membership for the 2021-22 academic year is March 31 and a letter of supervisor support should be included.

Interested staff, as well as supervisors looking for leadership opportunities to suggest to their teams, should review the application materials and online submission form found on the Penn State Human Resources USAC website.

About the University Staff Advisory Council

USAC—the voice for Penn State staff—consists of dedicated staff who act in an advisory capacity to the central administration; explore issues, policies and practices that impact staff; suggest revisions to policies and new policy initiatives; and advocate for staff welfare and development. USAC serves the president and his administration through the vice president of human resources and accepts new members annually.

USAC is comprised of a diverse group of thirty representatives from across the commonwealth who welcome multiple perspectives, celebrate and appreciate our differences, and unite around common goals. To learn more about the council, visit the Penn State Human Resources USAC website.

Last Updated March 09, 2021