Professional Staff Organization

History of the PSO

The Professional Staff Organization (PSO) was founded in 1990 as a result of an identified need for better professional staff representation on campus and in Olympia. Since its early years, PSO has lobbied in Olympia and has helped secure higher salaries for professional staff. On campus, PSO has worked closely with the President’s office and Human Resources to ensure the interests of professional staff are considered (particularly in relation to benefits) and that professional staff are well-informed of policies and programs impacting their roles. In addition to working at the state level and with University administration, PSO has a positive working relationship with faculty. Since 1995, PSO has been granted ex-officio representation on faculty councils, with many members having voting rights. Over the years, PSO has also had representation on presidential search committees, influenced procedures for mediating workplace disputes, has provided mentorship and professional development opportunities for its members, and has recognized distinguished staff.

Accomplishments

2020 – 2021

The 2020-1 academic year’s board efforts were centralized around a few themes: efficiency, community-building, and problem-solving. The past year required creativity, introspection, and adaptability and we’re proud to have met these demands – like so many of our PSO members did throughout the year.

We spent this past year reviewing board processes and systems, and worked to streamline our committee work, so that we can be more effective in our mission. The Elections Committee created a new application form, which includes ‘one-click voting’, and brought more focus to recruitment as well as managing elections. The Communications Committee continued to scale up and streamline our internal and external communications systems and averaged 40-50% engagement with our 11,000 newsletter subscribers.

Community-building and advocacy was another theme of our work this year. The Legislative Committee worked to strengthen relationships with stakeholders, such as State Relations, UW Impact, ASUW, Office of Planning and Budgeting, Faculty Legislative Representative, and more. We also shared voter registration and resources as well as informed Professional Staff of proposed budgetary changes. The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee hosted the 4th annual Diversity Forum, which drew more than 350 attendees and inspired the ideation of an all-day Diversity Forum to be held in autumn 2021. The DEI committee also worked with BIPOC staff to advocate for pay equity, launched our DEI web page, and introduced the new DEI spotlight feature in our newsletter, among other efforts. The Events and Programming Committee hosted multiple virtual events, including trivia night and a DIY happy hour.

In addition to these accomplishments, we’re proud to have awarded 14 professional staff scholarships since summer 2020, totaling over $5000. These scholarships go toward professional development for all pro-staff, and, like all the work we do, they are funded by the contributions from members like you. We worked with the Faculty Council for Benefits and Retirement (FCBR) to address concerns regarding physical therapy benefits with Uniform and PEBB, and we served on the campus-wide Caregiver Task Force. 

We will wrap up our year with our spring celebration, featuring President Cauce addressing some of the issues that this community has brought to us this year, before heading into another year of advocacy for our community! We’re grateful for the opportunity to serve the professional staff community and encourage you to get involved with our shared work! Contact us or visit our website to learn how you can get involved.

2018-2019

This year’s board efforts devoted to operationalizing the mission led the Board to identify strategic initiatives in three key spheres: organizational structure, communications, and events.
Accomplishing our initiatives required additional resources. The PSO is not a stand-alone entity because professional staff ever-present across the University. Thus, developing partnerships with UW and community groups afforded additional resources to support our work. The communications team upgraded the newsletter platform and updated the format to improve readability and overall appeal. The newsletter reported on topical issues and featured guest columnists, like Chuck Stone, to detail resources for professional staff. Professional staff around the UW were invited to submit topics and respond to issues in the newsletter. PSO Firsts included meeting with President Cauce in Fall 2018. It was a vibrant meeting confirming support for the PSO while determining how the PSO can conversely support the President and UW community in furthering the mission of the University while advocating for professional staff. The President was also the guest speaker at the Annual Awards engaging directly with professional staff in a Q & A session. This was an unanticipated yet well received opportunity for attendees to connect with President Cauce.

2015-2016

Throughout the year the PSO has actively engaged in the process of advancing child care for faculty, students, and staff on campus. Previously, the members of the board sat on the UW’s childcare committee and drafted a resolution in support of advancement, and in November of 2015, the PSO and The Whole U co-hosted an event highlighting updates on the initiative. The event featured a resource fair and presenter Amy Hawkins, director of Worklife and Childcare Development at the UW and was well received by the 100+ attendees. As a result of this successful event the PSO put together a short-term Paid Family Leave Advisory Committee that would look into the possibility of offering support for new parents at the UW. This committee presented their findings to the board in June 2016. Their report and the result of their findings can be found here.

2014-2015

During the past year, the UW held the first bi-annual Northwest Coalition of Professional Staff in Higher Education (NCPS) Conference at Alder Hall on July 19-21. This conference was possible in partnership with Western Washington University, Washington State University and the University of Washington Professional Staff Organizations. The conference was a success with over 100 participants from all over Washington State and the Pacific Northwest Region. Board Member Deci Evan’s led the front as NCPS Executive Chair. The next conference in 2017 is expected to take place at Western Washington University.

PSO sent a letter to the UW Presidential Search Committee Chair Kenyon Chan expressing concern over the lack of non-administrative staff members on the search committee. We did not feel that staff were adequately represented in comparison to the multiple administrator, faculty members and students appointed.

More Accomplishments

For more information on past accomplishments view a downloadable pdf.