About the Staff Senate

Mission Statement

The Staff Senate of the University of Michigan-Dearborn is committed to being an active partner in campus governance while recognizing the pivotal role of staff as an integral part of the campus community. Through our leadership, we will assist in shaping University policy and promoting a supportive environment.


The Staff Senate seeks to improve the quality of life for all employees. This can be accomplished through mutual understanding, recognition of staff contributions, and support for professional development.


As stated in a memorandum, dated August 19, 1992, a Campus Governance Committee was formed in early 1992. Its membership included Dave Cunningham, Kathy Herr, Cindy Kecskes, Elaine Greene, Leah Long, Kathy Morency, Valerie Murphy, Kay Peter, Susan Skramstad and Mary Tobin. Its mission was to create a formalized structure through which staff views might be expressed. Three focus groups of interested staff members met to discuss ways in which staff might achieve this representation. These meetings were followed by discussions at Staff Forums, and finally by the meeting of a working committee to brainstorm ways in which staff outcomes might be achieved. The Campus governance committee proposed that the new representative body be made up of 18 staff members, the same number as was being proposed for the Faculty Senate. The number was later increased to 19, as a result of adding one additional representative to represent Academic Affairs. This new body, called the Staff Senate, would represent staff and would act in an advisory capacity to the administration on non-academic matters.

The Staff Senate was organized and began working as a body in 1993. Elections were held to fill the 19 positions. After the initial appointments, elected members of the Staff Senate were and are elected for a four-year. The first year, 1/4 of the membership was elected for a four-year term, 1/4 was elected for a three-year term. This was done to insure that only 1/4 of the total membership would be replaced in any one year.  In 2005 the University changed its job classification system. The Staff Senate adjusted the composition to reflect this change. The change began in 2005 and was completed in 2007.

In November, 2007, at the request of the Chancellor, the Chancellor and Director of Human Resources were placed on the ballot for University Staff approval of a change to the By-laws adding them as Ex-Officio's of the Staff Senate. The change was approved by University Staff and the request formally added to the By-Laws.

Chairpersons of the Senate 

  • Leah Long, 1993-1994
  • Mary Tobin, 1995-1997
  • David Cunningham, 1998
  • Rayna Anderson, 1999-May 2000
  • Laura Drabczyk, May 2000-2005
  • Bill Romej, 2006
  • Sharon Lobdell, 2007-2009
  • Laura Drabczyk, 2010-2011
  • Judy Kennard, 2012-2014
  • Rand Kazanji, 2015
  • Bryan Earl, 2016-2021
  • Sarah Dorchak, 2021-2022
  • Rachel Buzzeo, 2022-


Working for Staff:

  • Secured a 2% equity increase for staff with annual salaries below $20,000 two different years.
  • Worked with administration to insure a $500 minimum base merit increase.
  • Conducted the Perceptions of the Work Environment Survey two different times. Established goals and provided recommendations based on data from the survey.
  • Assisted in establishing a Performance Planning and Appraisal tool and continued Senate participation through the review process.
  • Participated with the development of a Staff Recognition and Rewards Program, which laid the groundwork for the current rewards program.
  • Participated in the creation of the Staff Senate/Faculty Senate benefits committee.
  • Issued the Report of the Staff Senate Committee on Re-engineering. Provided recommendations regarding communication, staffing, workload, training, technology and job classification.
  • Developed and submitted Employee Dependent Tuition differential proposal to the administration, which was completed in 2006 and named the Dependent Tuition Scholarship.
  • Endorsement of the Medicare Part B Resolution presented to the Regents that was instrumental in making Medicare Part B retroactive to January 1, 2005, instead of March, 2005 assisting those individual's retiring between January 1 and March access to the benefit.
  • 3% salary increase approved by Senior Officers as requested in the 2006-2007 Staff Senate Budget request.
  • When the announcement was made by Ann Arbor that the cost of our health benefits would change from 80-20 to 70-30 by 2010, the Staff Senate encouraged staff via email to send their thoughts and concerns to Laurita Thomas. 
  • The Staff Senate also supported the Benefit's committee proposal to Ann Arbor that encouraged the change inception date be moved further into the future, and that benefits costs should be proportional based on salary.
  • Recommended (and was implemented) an Emergency Child Care Policy.
  • As of 2005, the Senate became responsible for handling the U Make a Difference awards program. 
  • Distribution of gifts to staff in recognition of their service to the University.

Campus Partnerships:

  • Enhanced communication between faculty and staff via the Campus forum.
  • Established regular monthly meetings with administration.
  • Supported open communication through the Staff Senate newsletter and staff forums.
  • Created publications to better inform staff of Senate activities: The Senator, and the Staff Senate Brochure. 
  • Worked with Campus Safety to make the campus aware of safety issues.
  • Recommend staff members for seats on Staff Recognition Recomment, Voices of Staff Committee, University Budget Committee and University Benefits Committee as they expire.
  • Met with the High Commission for Learning regarding UM-Dearborn self study.
  • Refined strategies for recommending budget changes and provided annual budget recommendations to central administration.
  • Partnered with the Chancellor's Picnic committee.

Engagement with Staff:

  • Held luncheons with various units on campus to discuss campus issues. Wrote a report on information gathered and distributed to the appropriate departments for disposition.
  • Security Open Forum after Virginia Tech incident.
  • In 2007 Brown Bags on ergonomics, heating, and Open Enrollment.
  • In 2008, in an attempt to be environmentally responsible, the Senate switched to an electronic Senator by sending via email as a pdf.
  • Campus Morale and Engagement committee promoted a health series for staff with topics on Alzheimer's, men's health, gratitude, and menopause.
  • In 2014, The Senator embraced the email newsletter format used by campus.
  • Developed new staff programs, Mgaged (2013) and Pay It Forward (2014) to encourage campus engagement and support for staff.