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2020 – 2021: Efficiency, Community-Building, Problem Solving

This year required creativity, introspection, and adaptability, and PSO is proud to have met these demands – like so many of our PSO members did throughout the year.


  • The Elections Committee created a new application form that includes “one-click voting” and focused on recruitment as well as managing elections.
  • The Communications Committee streamlined internal and external communications systems and averaged 40-50% engagement with 11,000 newsletter subscribers.

Community-building and advocacy

  • 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.
  • The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee hosted the 4th annual Diversity Forum with more than 350 in attendance. The event inspired an all-day Diversity Forum to be held in Autumn 2021.
  • The DEI committee worked with BIPOC staff to advocate for pay equity, launch a DEI web page, and introduce the new DEI spotlight feature in the PSO newsletter.
  • The Events and Programming Committee hosted multiple virtual events, including trivia night and a DIY happy hour.
  • PSO worked with the Faculty Council for Benefits and Retirement (FCBR) to address concerns regarding physical therapy benefits with Uniform and PEBB and served on the campus-wide Caregiver Task Force.


  • PSO is proud to have awarded 14 professional staff scholarships totaling over $5000.

2018 – 2019: Furthering our PSO Communication to the UW Professional Staff

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.

  • The communications team upgraded the newsletter platform and format to improve readability and overall appeal. Chuck Stone was a featured guest columnist.
  • PSO met with the new UW President, Ana Cauce, in Fall 2018 with the President confirming support for the PSO.
  • President Cauce was a guest speaker at the Annual Awards engaging directly with professional staff in a Q&A session.

2015 – 2016: Advocating for Childcare for the UW Community 

  • In November, the PSO and The Whole U co-hosted an event to share updates on the childcare access initiative featuring a resource fair and presenter Amy Hawkins, director of Worklife and Childcare Development at the UW. 100+ attended the event.
  • PSO formed a short-term Paid Family Leave Advisory Committee to investigate and advocate for the possibility of offering paid 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: PSO Collaboration and Partnerships 

  • UW and PSO held the first bi-annual Northwest Coalition of Professional Staff in Higher Education (NCPS) Conference at Alder Hall on July 19-21 in partnership with Western Washington University and Washington State University. Over 100 participants from all over Washington State and the Pacific Northwest Region attended. Board Member Deci Evan’s led the front as NCPS Executive Chair.
  • PSO sent a letter to Kenyon Chan, the UW Presidential Search Committee Chair, expressing concern over the lack of non-administrative staff members on the search committee and inadequate representation of staff compared to administrators, faculty, and students.
More Past Accomplishments

  • The Professional Staff Organization (PSO) updated its bylaws and incorporated as a 501c5. 
  • New quarterly meetings were established with the HR vice president to increase pro staff representation on university committees and resolve ongoing issues, including the grievance procedure, mediation, and requiring a letter stating reasons for termination. 
  • An official archiving process and historian position were established to improve PSO’s “historical memory.” 
  • In January, 23% of full-time UW professional staff responded to a PSO poll with just over half the votes in opposition to legislation to potentially allow professional staff to organize for collective bargaining. The PSO board voted to remain neutral on the legislation. 
  • At the annual fall meeting, President Mark Emmert spoke about his vision for the university. The spring meeting focused on the undergraduate experience with speakers Eric Godfrey, vice provost for student life; Ed Taylor, vice provost and dean for undergraduate academic affairs; and Sheila Edwards Lange, interim vice-president; and vice-provost for Minority Affairs and Diversity.  

  • After two years of dedicated work, PSO and HR finished the review and update of the Professional Staff Program, the university regulations under which professional staff are employed. Updates were related to clarification of release time for University service, program levels and overtime status, performance evaluation input, and the complaint processes. 
  • PSO held its two annual meetings. At the fall meeting, a panel that included Ana Mari Cauce provided an overview of the President’s Leadership, Community, and Values Initiative. At the spring meeting, Steve Charvat, Director of Emergency Management, provided an overview of UW’s new Office of Emergency Management and information know in the event of a regional disaster.

  • In the fall, the PSO Board adopted a PSO five-year strategic plan with an initial focus on outreach, membership building, and communication. Participation by non-Board members increased on committees and work groups. A new “mailman” list was set up for streamlined communication with members. And in May, a redesigned PSO website was launched. 
  • Another focus of the year was on building and strengthening PSO’s role as a liaison between professional staff and UW Human Resources and Administration including meeting monthly with HR leaders and starting the review and revision of the Professional Staff Program.  
  • PSO representatives participated in the final interview process for the UW Provost.  
  • At the Annual PSO Fall Meeting, UW President Mark Emmert gave the keynote address, and Randy West from UW Compensation spoke about the Fair Labor Standards Act changes. In winter 2005, PSO hosted a discussion of the proposed UW Performance Contract, with Randy Hodgins from State Relations and Harlan Patterson from Planning and Budgeting. The Annual Spring Meeting featured UW Psychology Professor Randy Kyes sharing his experiences assisting with relief efforts in Indonesia following the devastating tsunami of December 2004.  
  • Professional staff representatives served on several Faculty Councils and Committees, the UW Work/Life Advisory Group, and the Professional Staff Salary Survey Advisory Committee.  

  • PSO worked to improve administrative relations by meeting with the new President, Executive Vice President, and Human Resources, and PSO participated in interviews of the finalists for the position of Vice President for Human Resources.  
  • A new policy was established to provide reimbursement for travel expenses for official PSO business. 
  • Three new Board positions were established: Bothell, Seattle, and Tacoma campus representatives.  
  • There was an overflow crowd at the 2003 autumn meeting with special guests Interim President Lee Huntsman, who spoke on the state of the university and answered questions, and Katy Dwyer, Director of Benefits, who gave an update on benefits. New Vice President for Human Resources, Patti Carson, was the guest presenter at the 2004 spring meeting.  

  • The PSO Bylaws were revised in October 2002. The IRS approved the PSO application for tax exemption reclassification under IRS section 501(c)(5).  
  • A PSO Chair was a member of the planning committee for the 2002 UW September 11 Commemoration event.  
  • The PSO cosponsored and participated in a two-day conference: “Building for Our Future: A Conference Addressing Campus Unions.”  
  • The annual fall meeting included a panel discussion on enabling legislation. The annual spring meeting included Executive Vice President Weldon Ihrig as the keynote speaker, and HR Vice President Karen Kavanagh was a guest speaker at the December PSO Board of Directors meeting.  

  • Work began to incorporate the Professional Staff Organization.  
  • HR did a new salary survey with PSO representatives on the committee.  
  • Changes to the Research Scientist classification were implemented in February 2002.

  • In February 2001, a Professional Staff Research Advisory Group (RAG) was formed to develop tools to evaluate Research Scientist/Engineer positions to evaluate salaries.  
  • The PSO Board reviewed and commented on draft policies on Disability Leave and Sick Leave/Medical Verification Policies with HR and reviewed the revised Policy on Workplace and Domestic Violence. 
  • Karen Kavanagh met with the PSO Board in February to discuss the salary survey, job evaluation and compensation, the strategic leadership program, and employee benefits.  
  • Dick Thompson, Director of UW Office of Government Relations, discussed with the Board the upcoming legislative session and budget proposal for FY01-02. Dick was also the featured speaker at the autumn annual meeting. 
  • Carolyn Busch, Assistant Director of the Government Relations Office, shared her perspective with the Board on the coming year in the state legislature. Carolyn also discussed the legislative session at PSO’s Spring Social in May 2001.  
  • The April 17th board meeting was held at Harborview Medical Center. The meeting illuminated challenges that off-campus employees face, such as limited parking and shuttle service, mail address issues, and the difficulty of attending on-campus training and classes.  

  • PSO reviewed and participated in the Telework policy creation with HR, helped review the VEBA policy, worked to further improve the Professional Staff Salary Survey process, and had representatives participate in interviews for the head of HR.  
  • PSO held three open discussions on campus as part of the President’s “Conversations About the Future.”  
  • PSO coordinated with the campus lobbying group to provide a “united” vision of the needs of the PSO in decisions made in Olympia. Several members of the Board went to Olympia to discuss issues with state senators.  
  • Former-Senator/Governor and UW regent Dan Evans spoke at the annual meeting.

  • PSO went to Olympia and gave testimony to several committees to lobby for faculty and staff salaries. Eventual salary increases were higher than expected.  
  • The Professional Staff Salary Survey was improved and made more accurate because of the active contribution of the PSO members of the UW Salary Survey Committee.  
  • At the annual meeting, Representative Tom Huff (R, 26th District) and State Senator Jeanne Kohl (D, 36th District) spoke on the topic of “The Future of Higher Education in Washington.” 

  • PSO demanded to have input into the Market Gap Remedy Plan II after Plan I was rejected by the Legislature as inadequate. A meeting with the administration led to an acceptable document that PSO could support in lobbying efforts, which resulted in $3.2 million special allocation to remedy professional staff salary gaps.  
  • A communication campaign spearheaded by PSO helped to bring legislature closure for a positive UW biennial budget.  
  • PSO relationship with Administration took its first major positive turn in discussions, lobbying efforts, and Administration participation (and financial support) of the Fifth Annual Professional Staff Awards Ceremony.  
  • The Faculty Senate proposed that PSO be granted ex-officio representation on faculty councils (change was adopted in 1995).  
  • A professional staff representative was appointed to the Presidential Search Committee.  
  • The workplace disputes process was changed to incorporate mediation for those disputes that do not qualify for legal remedies.

  • Although no salary increases were granted to state employees, the legislature passed budget language requiring the UW to develop a plan for dealing with the equity problems of professional staff and librarians (Market Gap Remedy Plan). PSO lobbied in Olympia for changes leading to the Market Gap Remedy Plan II.  
  • A professional staff representative was appointed to the Presidential Task Force charged with reviewing important academic issues in the future of the institution. 
  • Administration hired Johnson/Lindstrand to assess the needs of Professional Staff Personnel System and make recommendations for updates and revisions. 
  • PSO inaugurated a Mentor Program for new staff, in cooperation with Personnel.  

  • The 1991-93 draft budget contained funding for professional staff market/equity considerations in addition to regular increases. The Professional Staff Advisory Council (PSAC) made recommendations for allocation of this equity money. PSO had two representatives on PSAC. 
  • In May, PSO held its first recognition event (eventually to become the UW Distinguished Staff Award). Administration declined to participate in selection and staging of the event.  
  • PSO representative began attending the Faculty Senate council to develop new policies for faculty adjudication process.  
  • PSO is born! The first board and officers were elected, and the first local market survey of professional staff salaries was conducted.  
  • PSO proposes a system of workplace mediation to deal with workplace disputes that do not qualify as harassment or discrimination.  
  • Professional staff volunteer lobbying in Olympia begins, and PSO begins regular meetings with Bob Edie, director of government relations.