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2018-19 USAC Annual Report

Penn State Today, August 19, 2019

USAC exists for the purpose of suggestion, review and advice on issues that impact or are impacted by staff at Penn State. The council acts in an advisory capacity to University administration through the Office of the Vice President for Human Resources.

During the 2018-19 term, USAC focused on change management. Detailed information on its activities and accomplishments is available in a newly developed annual report

Highlights include:

Speakers at monthly USAC meetings shared information and updates about change occurring across the University, as well as information about the change management process and helping staff cope with change. Sue Cromwell, Penn State’s director of organizational change management, presented on her unit's role in change management, specifically with the System for Integrated Management, Budgeting and Accounting (SIMBA) project, and explained the process model currently being utilized for change management.

USAC hosted its second annual Summit in April 2019. More than 50 Penn State staff members representing Staff Advisory Councils across the commonwealth convened for a day of networking and learning. Judy Grant, regional vice president of Health Advocate Solutions, Penn State’s employee assistance program (EAP) provider, presented an overview of the programs and services offered through the EAP as well as tips for working through stressful and changing times.

In May, University President Eric Barron and the council honored three individuals as recipients of the 2019 USAC Staff Awards for their outstanding accomplishments and contributions to the University. 

Throughout the year, USAC members were actively involved with University-wide projects, committees and councils. Members of USAC engaged with the University Faculty Senate, the Compliance Training Strategic Planning Committee, the Microsoft Office 365 implementation team and the Vice President for Human Resources search committee.

Members of USAC's executive council are engaged in the ongoing process of sharing best practices of staff advisory councils with Big Ten peers.

USAC continued its Positive Paws program and worked to increase communications to Penn State staff, including information on advancements to the USAC website and the development of a point-of-contact list to communicate with Staff Advisory Councils across the commonwealth.

Twenty-three staff members across the University served as USAC members during this term year, and four are outgoing members of the council. The outgoing members are:

Megan Gilpin, student services associate, University Libraries

Jean Marie Jacob (past-chair), assistant director of academic outreach, World Campus

Denita Wright Watson (past-secretary), academic program manager for graduate and professional programs, Penn State Great Valley

Brandon Zimmerman, IT support specialist, University Libraries

In addition to primary job responsibilities, serving on USAC has included at least a three-year commitment, participation in multiple meetings per month throughout that time, and time on special projects and events.


2019 University Staff Advisory Council Staff Recognition Awards

USAC is pleased to announce the honorees for 2018-19!

Visit the Awards page for details.  View the article in Penn State Today.

Staff Excellence:  Hilleary Himes, Director of Advising in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences

Staff Leadership:  Jeremy Fisher, Administrative Support Coordinator in the College of Arts and Architecture, School of Visual Arts

Staff Morale:  Thomas Kell, Laboratory Supervisor at Penn State Harrisburg



USAC Opt-in Listserv

USAC has an Opt-in Listserv:  [email protected]  To sign up for the Listserv and receive USAC updates to your email, send an email to [email protected] with "subscribe L-USACnews" in the body of the email.

2019 USAC Summit

The University Staff Advisory Council (USAC) hosted its second annual summit on April 16, 2019. More than 50 Penn State staff members representing Staff Advisory Councils across the Commonwealth convened for a day of networking and learning. 

Nicole Sturges, chair of USAC’s Commonwealth Campuses Committee and lead organizer, said the summit “was created as a way to connect staff advisory councils or similar staff organizations from across the University. Our hope was to encourage communication, networking, and provide a forum for an exchange of ideas. It also gives us an opportunity to promote and share information about USAC and how staff can get involved. ”

Jeannine Hanes, USAC Chair, opened the event by welcoming all attendees from across Penn State campuses.

“We want to open up the line of communication between various Staff Advisory Councils so we can help each other and learn," Hanes said.

Link to the article in Penn State Today, May 3, 2019.

2019-20 USAC membership application period is now closed.

The deadline for applications was March 31, 2019.  Additional information can be found on the USAC "Get Involved" webpage. 

University Staff Advisory Council to prioritize organizational change management

Oct. 1, 2018.  Each year, the University Staff Advisory Council (USAC) convenes in the fall to set its annual goals as a Council.  For the coming year, USAC will focus on organizational change management, defined as supporting people through the transition from current to future states.

This focus builds upon USAC’s inaugural staff summit held in spring 2018 and the feedback the council has received from staff regarding change overload at the University. Sue Cromwell, director of the Office of Organizational Change Management in Finance and Business presented to the council this month to educate USAC members on the concept and practices of organizational change management.

To bolster the council’s prioritization of change management, the USAC sub-committees will spearhead projects related to improved communications about training opportunities at Penn State, enhanced communications to all staff, including with other staff advisory councils across the University, and recognizing staff that support change in its annual staff awards.

USAC also acknowledges the impact managing change can have on mental and physical well-being, so the council will work to share helpful resources. To complement its partnership with the Office of Organizational Change Management in F&B, USAC will also collaborate with Enterprise IT’s Organizational Change Management Office.

USAC Welcome & Thank You to our Council Members

Aug. 1, 2018.  The Council would like to welcome the new members beginning their three-year term starting today, August 1, 2018.  Please join us in welcoming them to USAC.

  • Lori Coup, Administrative Support Assistant 3, Park and Tourism Management, Health & Human Development, University Park campus
  • Aimee Grugan, Administrative Support Assistant, Political Science, Liberal Arts, University Park campus
  • Lindsey Marshall, Business Process Analyst, Information Technology Systems, Physical Plant, University Park campus
  • Barbara Holmes, Administrative Support Assistant 3, Human Resources, Human Resources, University Park campus
  • Zella Ondrey, Campus Registrar, Records, PS Lehigh Valley, Lehigh Valley campus
  • Benjamin Romig, IT Support Specialist, Information Secuirty Office, Office of the President, University Park campus
  • Leigh Ryan, Marketing Strategy Specialist 5, marketing Strategy, World Campus, University Park campus
  • Lori Sabatose, Administrative Support Coordinator, Humanities Institute, Liberal Arts, University Park, campus
  • Amanda Szymanski, Enrollment Services Manager, Office of Student Aid, Undergraduate Education, University Park campus
  • Elizabeth Tepsic, Financial Assistant, Food Science, Agricultural Sciences, University Park campus
  • Brad Yeckley, Assistant Director of Financial Literacy, Undergraduate Programs, Undergraduate Education, University Park campus

The Council would also like to thank the members who completed their term on July 31, 2018.  It has been an honor and pleasure to have them on the Council.  We sincerely appreciate all of their hard work and dedication to USAC and to their fellow staff members at Penn State. 

  • Stacie Chandler, Student Advising and Course Coordination, College of Arts and Architecture, University Park campus
  • Lysa Holland, Environmental Compliance Engineer, Environmental Health & Safety, University Park campus
  • Ionut (John) Ilie, Facilities Representative, Information Technology Services, University Park campus
  • Roger Martell, Asst. Director of the Office of Administrative Services, College of Agricultural Sciences, University Park campus
  • Jenn Moore, Development Assistant, Div. of Development & Alumni Relations, College of Education, University Park campus
  • Andrew Van Alstyne, Training & Certification Specialist, Hospitality Services, University Park campus

And, the Council is sending a huge thanks to two current Council members that just served as the 2017/18 Chair and Secretary.  Their extra time and commitment to USAC was instrumental to the Council successes.  Both will now serve 2018/19 as Past-Chair and Past-Secretary with continued efforts of supporting the 2018/19 respective positions. 

  • 2017/18 Chair, Jean Marie Jacob, Assistant Director, Academic Outreach for the World Campus
  • 2017/18 Secretary, Leslie Hutchins, Administrative Support Coordinator, College of Nursing, University Park campus

Welcome to the 2018/19 Chair and Secretary--we look forward to the upcoming year with you both leading the way and keeping the Council on track to reach our goals and serve our Mission.

2018/19 Chair, Jeannine Hanes, Client Service Manager for the World Campus

2018/19 Secretary, Denita Wright Watson, Academic Program manager for Penn State Great Valley

Please join us in thanking all of these Council members!

If you would like more information on how to become a member of USAC, please visit our webpages and/or contact a member of USAC directly or via email to [email protected].

USAC Executive Board Elections Outcome for the 2018/19 Term

June 2018.  The Council completed their election of Secretary-Elect and Chair-Elect for the 2018/19 term.  Congratulations to Samantha Walker and Mark Belkowski.  Samantha will searve as Secretary-Elect and Mark as Chair-Elect to the Executive Council of USAC for the upcoming academic term and then will respectively transition to Secretary and Chair for the 2019/20 term.

Samantha WalkerSamantha is an Administrative Support Assistant 3 for the Department of Educational Psychology, Counseling, and Special Education in the College of Education and works at the CEDAR Building on University Park campus.







Mark is an IT Consultant 3 for Enterprise IT at the Technology Support Building on Science Park Road, State College.







2018 University Staff Advisory Council Staff Recognition Awards
Group Photo with University Staff Advisory Council Award winners and President Barron

USAC is pleased to announce the honorees for 2017-18!

Visit the Awards page for details.

Staff Excellence:  Corinna H. Fisher, Constituent Programming and Event Officer, College Relations Office, College of Agricultural Sciences

Staff Leadership: Jamie Perryman, Administrative Support Coordinator, Stuckeman School

Staff Morale: Kristy Bryan, Adviser, World Campus Academic Advising and Student Disability Services



Positive Paws Program

A Positive Paw is a simply a sticky note in which you can show your appreciation for a colleague to show your appreciation. Just write your feelings on the Positive Paw and give it to the person who did something that made a difference in your day.

  • Did you see a PSU employee give extra care, courteous, and kind behavior?
  • Do you know a PSU employee that goes above and beyond to make sure others feel respected, to offer extraordinary help, or provide an ear and a smile to someone in need?
  • Does someone in your area work tirelessly with little recognition?
  • Did you see a random act of kindness?
  • Or an example of “paying it forward?”

Catch someone in the act of being fabulous, go back to your desk and write a thank you. Then give that Positive Paw to the person who made your day!

Send an email to [email protected] to request some Paws
Print or Email your own Paws

You are encouraged to submit your Positive Paw story to be shared on USAC’s Facebook page. Please send an email to [email protected].


USAC Summit

On Wednesday, April 18, 2018 more than 75 Penn State staff gathered in person or virtually to attend the first Staff Advisory Council Summit at University Park.

Convened and sponsored by the University Staff Advisory Council, the event was an opportunity for staff from every unit and campus to meet and share their ideas and experiences.

USAC’s mission is to represent the interests of Penn State staff while acting in an advisory capacity to the University’s central administration.

Although the names differ, there are many similar staff advisory councils in units and campuses across the Penn State system. While they are not formally linked, they share similar goals. That is why USAC invited staff and councils from across the Commonwealth to share best practices, learn how to establish a staff advisory council, and discuss current staff concerns.

Participants represented these units and campuses:

  • Abington
  • Altoona
  • Behrend
  • Great Valley
  • Harrisburg
  • Hazleton
  • New Kensington
  • Scranton
  • Shenango
  • Wilkes-Barre
  • Chemical Engineering
  • College of Agricultural Science
  • College of Arts and Architecture
  • College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
  • College of Engineering
  • College of Liberal Arts
  • College of Nursing
  • Eberly College of Science
  • Energy and Mineral Engineering
  • Enterprise IT
  • Entomology
  • Food Science
  • Mathematics
  • Office of Physical Plant
  • Political Science
  • President's Office
  • Smeal Accounting
  • Strategic Communications
  • University Libraries
  • University Press
  • World Campus

USAC Facebook page

The University Staff Advisory Council created a Facebook Page to provide additional information about USAC, staff events across the University, and staff-related news.  Please Like us on Facebook.