The University of Massachusetts Amherst

SBS Feedback Form

The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences welcomes and values your feedback at any point in time. We encourage you to use the form below to let us know what's on your mind and we'll do our best to incorporate it into our various planning efforts.

Unless you opt to identify yourself, the form is completely anonymous – no emails or identifiable information are collected at any point.

SBS Feedback Form


It would be helpful to hear why SBS/ the University is able to find lots of funds for faculty retention offers, but can't raise staff salaries. I imagine you will say it is a union issue, but faculty are part of a union also.

We are trying to provide raises through position reclassification, but the the HR system is currently thwarting us. Additionally, faculty retentions are done via a Provost Office process that provides half the resources. Normally, the College has to find the resources for staff position reclassification internally. Nonetheless, we do pursue them.

Think carefully about representation on the Dean's Staff Advisory Council. Is the hope to represent a job types/titles? Departments? And, if the people going to the meetings are representing the views of other people, are they aware of the agenda ahead of time to check in with those people before meetings are held? Will the College help them develop systems to be represent others? Could there be more than one person representing a particular job type and/or department so that some element of diversity in views can be captured?

We are considering the composition of the Dean’s Staff Advisory Council (DSAC). The membership currently includes members of both PSU and USA. We do want the membership to include individuals who play a wide range of roles in the College. We will endeavor to distribute the agenda earlier so that consultation is possible. However, it is also important that the DSAC members also collect and forward to the senior leadership pressing issues. Ideally, the information flow will be bilateral.

There are a few offices on campus that must be open during summer but certain people within the department are welcome to work from home while other are mandated to be in the office. This is so unfair to those who are told they must be in the office and it creates anger, frustration and a desire to leave the job. I think this should be done in a more equitable way.

The College has endeavored to offer as many staff as possible opportunities to work from home this summer. It is the case that both the Provost and the Dean expect some presence in the office during regular business hours to provide assistance to faculty or students that walk in. However, most should have been offered remote work options. If you have not been, please contact Karen Schoenberger. Remote work should be equitably offered. However, it is also the case that some positions require on-campus work more than others. Remote work opportunities will depend on job responsibilities, and more remote work will be possible in the summer than during the academic year.

I understand there's been some discussion of creating an associate chair position. What about a structure similar to that of many professional organizations, where there would be a chair-elect? That way they could help with some project work, but they could also learn some of the particulars of the position prior to taking on the full responsibility. There's always a huge learning curve for new chairs, so it seems that this could be a way to alleviate some of that, and provide the chair some assistance, while perhaps being a bit less politically fraught than an associate chair (with a separate set of responsibilities) might be.

Across campus it is common for departments to have associate chairs. As the comment notes, there can be conflict over the selection of an associate chair, so there needs to be process of consultation put in place to select one. Associate chair service should prepare a faculty member to serve as chair, but does leave some room for faculty that wish to contribute to management of the department in ways short of being chair. However, creating a chair-elect process is certainly possible, and a department may choose to organize in that way.

It might be useful if there was a way for SBS to make recommendations about best practices around file storage for departments. Chairs and supervisors may assume that staff have more access to current and historical department data than they actually do. When an employee leaves they take their OneDrive or Google Drive files with them and that can be a challenge for the department they are leaving and for the incoming hire to locate information. Staff shouldn't have to rely on previous employees to find the time to share important files with them but maybe the college could encourage departments to have centralized filing systems to make it easier to find information.

Departments should establish clear guidelines around shared files through OneDrive or Google Drive in order to ensure consistent and transferable access. If there are issues with recovering departmental files, please contact UMass IT for support.