Professional Staff Organization


Can Professional Staff Support Excellence at UW through Advocacy?

The Professional Staff Organization (PSO) has representatives on many University councils and committees, and we contribute our voice to the internal policies and processes that inform our work and work environments. However, decisions and policies that impact our professional roles at UW are made in other arenas such as local, state, and federal governments.

Since 2007, state funding to Washington’s public universities has significantly declined. Every sector at UW experiences the impact of reduced funding in any of several forms: including tuition increases, wage reductions and freezes, and, personnel reductions – to name a few. Higher education is vulnerable to revenue shortfalls because the State is not mandated to maintain funding for higher education. Irrespective of revenue volatility, the University must continue to espouse excellence in pursuit of its mission.

As professional staff, we acknowledge that UW is our chosen workplace and that we are fundamental in contributing to and realizing its mission. It is our enterprise to cultivate positive internal environments that enable us to accomplish our duties successfully. Does this include an attendant responsibility to advocate in external arenas for policies, circumstances, and resources necessary to fulfill our professional responsibilities? The PSO acknowledges that many of us are engaged in spaces to effect outcomes that elevate the UW and its mission. Yet, there is a need for more information:

  • What can we do to facilitate excellence and uphold the University’s mission?
  • Can we influence public policy that impacts professional staff and our roles at UW?
  • What is and is not permissible in advocacy as state/public employees?
  • How do we effectively communicate the value of the work we do, the ROI in higher education to our legislators, communities, and Washington State citizens?
  • Will our voices make a difference?

Yes, our voices make a difference! If professional staff are sincere about our work contributing to the University’s mission, then it is important to advocate for the support and resources we need to reach excellence. The PSO encourages professional staff to participate in our internal and external advocacy work, and to explore other avenues for advocacy that may impact your role at UW and beyond.

The University’s Government Relations has units that focus on federal, state, and regional government relations. Joe Dacca, the Director for State Relations, has developed a handout, “Tips for Effective Legislative Advocacy,” that provides guidelines for advocacy as a UW employee and as a private individual. The guide also includes UW’s 2019 legislative agenda. Additionally, official administrative policy for Government Relations and Lobbying is covered in the UW Policy Directory, UW Administrative Policy Statement 1.3.

Advocacy takes many forms: letters to the editor, phone calls to legislators, expert witness testimony on legislation, and more. However, the key to being effective is to be authentic and have a clear message. Our clear message is that, in service to our students, faculty, fellow staff, and communities, we work “toward achieving an excellence that well serves the state, the region and the nation.[i]” The UW mission and charge conveys our exceptional duty to our constituents; therefore, we must advocate for the necessary and appropriate resources to deliver excellence.

All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

[i] Role and Mission of the University: BR, February 1981; February 1998; AI, December 2001; BR, July 11, 2013; RC, September 23, 2016; RC, September 20, 2017.