In 1999, UF President Charles Young was the first President to decline leadership of the “University Senate.” In 2000, the University Senate (founded in 1932) changed its name to Faculty Senate, representing all ranks of faculty (earlier senates only included full professors), and added an amendment to elect one of its members as the leader. In 2002-2003, Young made it a top priority during the end of his term to increase the role of faculty in the governance of the University of Florida. An interest in a voice for and representation of professional staff emerged at this time.
The original Academic and Professional Assembly (APA) formed collaboratively, starting with a small group of members affiliated with the Association for Academic Women (AAW). The organization was formed to provide a voice for a large group of professional employees that were not represented by Faculty Senate. The original members worked closely with the Faculty Senate to create the group, create bylaws and recognize the organization through the UF constitution. APA is available to advise administration and Faculty Senate on affairs concerning professional employees at UF. Intentionally, APA was organized and operating in time for the appointment and arrival of President Bernie Machen.
Shortly after the formation of APA, staff in the former “A&P” classification saw significant changes with the creation of TEAMS and the migration of most A&P staff to TEAMS pay plans. APA navigated organizational adjustments, including identifying pay plans that represented professional staff that were formerly A&P and worked with Faculty Senate to add APA to the UF Constitution, representing TEAMS exempt employees and “career faculty not represented by Faculty Senate.” The former at that time included clinical instructors, certain scientists/researchers, certain IFAS employees and more. Over the years, Cheri Brodeur and others, including Faculty Senate chairs Frank Bova and Barbara Larsen, worked to incorporate more of the “career faculty” and non-tenured categories into Faculty Senate. The founding President of APA, Cheri Brodeur, later served as the Chair of Faculty Senate which proved helpful in increasing representation at UF for both faculty and professional staff and continuing the efforts started by the APA organizing committee.
APA leaders advocated for staff representation on university committees. APA still plays an active part in promotion of committee opportunities to its constituents and advises the President on staff appointments, per the Faculty Senate bylaws.
After the university administered a faculty climate survey, staff requested through APA that the university consider a staff climate survey and President Machen agreed. The 2005 Staff Climate Survey was administered with the assistance of APA and in collaboration with Faculty Senate and AAW. APA worked with consultants and Human Resources in identifying staff in units, creating a questionnaire, administering the survey, analyzing the results and creating a report for administration.
In the interest of creating better communication channels for UF employees, APA formed an inter-campus communication committee that facilitated discussions and recommendations. Informed by the work of the committee, Past APA President Diane Craig worked with Mike Conlon on the development of the MyUFL portal, the communication tool made possible by the UF intranet at my.ufl.edu.
APA officers made a recommendation to extend Homecoming to a full-day holiday, rather than a half-day holiday. The recommendation was intended to recognize the hard work of UF employees and boost morale and university spirit after the hurricanes of 2004, economic downturn and budget cuts that followed. The recommendation was presented to the President by Human Resources and adopted.
APA administered a formal feedback process with the roll out of PeopleSoft on campus. The organization worked with representatives throughout campus that implemented the platform in their departments to report comments and create a report to Human Resources.
Past APA President Alan Preston advocated for the formation of UF Campus Cabs. APA assisted in adding weight to the recommendation and creating communication and support for the initiative. The Campus Cab, administered by UF Transportation and Parking Services, offers point-to-point transportation for faculty and staff with “business purposes” on main campus, east campus and certain UF facilities in Alachua County.
In 2014, APA was involved in the search process that resulted in the appointment of President Kent Fuchs. APA officers, UF students and certain department representatives were asked to present questions to the finalists at a public campus/community assembly. A separate assembly was also held for faculty.
In 2018-2019, we enhanced our board size to represent a broader cross-section of campus, to reach more staff, and to provide leadership development opportunities. We also launched our first membership survey to capture feedback and drive our strategic planning. We piloted an ambassador program that reaches out to new staff, enhanced our communications, and launched a monthly informal meetup/social. We also hosted tours of a variety of campus locations, including Cypress Hall, UF Innovate | The Hub, Facility Services Training Center, Career Connections Center, UF Data Center, Meat Processing Center, Harrell Medical Education Building Simulation Lab, and the College of Veterinary Medicine. A detailed review is available here.
In 2019-2020, we focused our efforts on strategic planning. Our overarching goals are advocacy, education, community/sense of belonging, and partnerships. The strategic plan was built on feedback from the membership survey, focus groups, discussions and emails from our members, and board conversations. Our vision is for APA to be an influential and inclusive community, driving meaningful engagement and consistent advocacy for UF staff. The APA strategic plan is available here.