This month, we are especially pleased to bring you this interview with Peg Meyers, Staff Council Coordinator, aka the backbone of RIT Staff Council! Our interview comes as Peg celebrates 25 years of service at RIT, and shortly after making a big announcement (read on to find out more)!
Peg Meyers started working at RIT 25 years ago. When she first began, she thought she’d only be here for a couple of years! She shared a small office with someone from the CAST dean’s office. She then moved to her own office in the basement of the SAU. Finally, she moved to her current office in the SAU – the hub of Staff Council. Peg’s title is Staff Council Coordinator. In fact, she is the first and only coordinator that SC has ever had. A unique job responsibility is that she trains her boss – Peg reports to the chair of Staff Council. That means that her supervisor changes with every new chair elected. In her role, she meets people from all areas of the university, and has gained a unique perspective from those experiences. Peg meets and works with upper administration, and due to that, she has the opportunity to see “the big picture” in a way that a lot of people at RIT aren’t exposed to.
A few years into her job, the Presidential Awards for Outstanding Staff were created. That has become the true joy of her time here. She loves to learn about so many wonderful staff members, and to meet them in person and help to make them feel appreciated. The awards ceremony, and the dinner held afterwards for recipients at Liberty Hill, is Peg’s favorite RIT event.
“To be part of bringing that whole staff voice to the table is really awesome; to know that I am helping people be heard, by people who might never had heard them otherwise...” At first, when Staff Council was new, the RIT community needed time to get used to the idea. The Board of Trustees, whose experience was mostly in the corporate world, didn’t understand the value of shared governance. Additionally, many staff members, used to the norms of their own divisions and departments, needed to adjust to the idea of a larger platform for staff. Peg says that while those perceptions have improved, we still need to find ways to engage staff with what we do.
“We’ve tackled some really big issues. We’ve initiated some amazing changes.” Peg described the way the Center for Professional Development (CPD) grew out of an SC task force looking at implementing cross-campus training programs. A child care task force, started and led by SC, developed a report about child care needs at RIT. The report gave the President the knowledge to know what was needed and act upon it, and that’s how Margaret’s House came to be. The annual Staff Appreciation Picnic has its origins in the original task force who created the staff awards. They wanted to find a way to recognize the hard work that all staff do at RIT.
Over the years, Peg has seen a change in the workplace culture at RIT – ”I think there’s a trend toward people wanting to be more involved;” people seek to be involved at RIT, not just the job they were hired to do. Service to students is another trend the Peg sees on the increase. ”People will go out of their way to help a student,” and the programs to support students have grown tremendously. Peg notes the physical changes the RIT campus has undergone through the years and how beautiful it’s become.
Current and former Staff Council Chairpersons celebrated Peg's 25 years of service at RIT on March 8, 2018. Back row, left to right: Cliff Dickinson, Kathleen Schreier Rudgers, Molly Johnson, Kurt Ingerick, Becky Kiely, Kim Shearer. Middle row: Lauren Shields, Cindee Gray. Front, center: Peg Meyers.
Her favorite memory? It was just a few weeks ago, when Staff Council celebrated Peg’s 25 years of service. Several past chairs returned and spoke about their time serving on Staff Council. They told stories of how Peg helped them navigate in their new position, and described the impact that serving on Staff Council has had on their careers. It was a happy gathering of old and new friends and colleagues for Peg.
Even if you know Peg, you might not know that she grew up on a dairy farm. Not only that, she still lives on the same street that she grew up on!
What’s Peg most excited about right now? She is really glad that the Staff Grievance Policy is in the final stages of approvals. So many staff members have worked really hard on it over the last couple of years, and to see it put into policy will be truly satisfying, and she believes it will serve the staff of RIT well. She’s also enthusiastic about changes being made to the criteria for staff awards. The changes are a reflection of where RIT is now and how best to recognize outstanding staff. She’s also pleased that Staff Council is exploring more options for staff to be involved in the budget process at RIT.
Perhaps the biggest change for Peg lies in her future. She’s currently planning for retirement! She has a new grandchild in Florida, and expects lots of trips to see the addition to her family. Peg and her husband are looking forward to travelling to see more of the western states of the U.S. and also Europe. She’s hoping to find time to return to volunteering at the NICU at Strong Memorial Hospital. Peg has a beautiful Samoyed puppy, and she’s hoping that he can be a therapy dog. In her spare time, she has many quilting projects planned to keep her busy!
It’s hard for Peg to imagine not coming into work everyday, she will miss the people of RIT. “It sounds like a buzz phrase, but RIT staff really are incredible people” and the same goes for faculty, too, “they’re concerned about staff, and they really think of us as part of the team.” Peg leaves us with this reflection on Staff Council, “knowing that Staff Council makes a difference is great, but it makes a difference because of the amazing people.”