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The Current Value of Long-term Staff

I had the honor to be part of the Staff/AAP service awards held on Monday, April 24. This event honors staff who have completed 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, and 45 years as a Georgetown employee. For some time, this event was routinely scheduled as an annual event. Unfortunately, the global pandemic disrupted this schedule, and the Monday event honored those staff who achieved their year thresholds in 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023. In total, about 300 staff were honored for their years of employment. One of the highlights of the event was a special honor to Mr. John Matthews, who completed 55 years of service at Georgetown!

It is interesting that we use the term “service award” because the word “service” is quite apt. It is too easy to think of the term “jobs” when discussing a work organization. At Georgetown, we aspire to be more than collection of jobs. The animating spirit of the university is that we form a community. The mission of the community is service to larger goals. We seek collectively use our individual talents to build a better world, especially with regard to populations who have not enjoy the benefits of others easily enjoy.

Universities do this by forming the characters of young minds, introducing them to new knowledge, exposing them to alternative perspectives, and helping them identify their own way forward to improve the human condition. At Georgetown this formation process is the work of the whole community – faculty and staff, as well as fellow students.

The majority of the staff honored in the service award ceremony held jobs that maintain the environment within which students experience their education. These included grounds people, bus drivers, skilled trades people, but also administrative professionals working in human relations, academic units, and finance operations.

Watching the honorees mount the stage for their applause and pictures prompted reflections on the past three years and what has occurred at Georgetown. In March, 2020, the pandemic disrupted our community. Most all students left the campus. Online classes replaced in-person instruction. Most academic staff also transitioned quickly to full teleworking.

But not all staff could continue their work remotely. Buildings still needed care. The grounds needed attention. The campus still needed cooling, heating, and electricity. So, many of colleagues continue on-site work.

During the pandemic, employee turnover increased at Georgetown, similar to the vast majority of work organizations (i.e., the “great resignation”). These employees have been replaced over the months with new employees. Indeed, over 40% of the current Georgetown staff have been hired in the last three years or so. It is that fact that stimulated reflection during the award event.

Because of the large number of new employees, the longevity of the staff honored in the event has even more value to Georgetown. Such staff are the heart of the culture of caring that we aspire to achieve at Georgetown. We are privileged by their continued work at Georgetown, because they know the community values that are important to the mission for the university. They teach our students, new faculty, and new staff what it means to be part of the Georgetown family. They are the conduits of culture. At this time, when many staff are remote or hybrid, communicating cultural values is complicated. Some new staff do not enjoy uniformly day-to-day casual conversations with their new colleagues. Their challenges to learn the shared values of the community are larger individually. Since there are so many new employees, the challenge to the university is larger.

Georgetown employees with long service are treasured even more at this moment in history because they contain such knowledge about the ways of proceeding at Georgetown. We should honor them both for their longevity at Georgetown, but also for their socializing new colleagues into the values underlying the Georgetown family.

7 thoughts on “The Current Value of Long-term Staff

  1. Sorry for repeat comments. My comments went to spam so sadly now ALL showing up ! Meadows culpa!

  2. Great post. And fully agreed. — But now I have a staff member who has been here and dedicated her work and +++++ efforts to the department and the university for many years. And the administrator gets to help (in the crisis that we had in finding and staffing administrative support) and selflessly steps in to aide and even help hire an administrator for another department (aside from all the other help she provided for various departments and administrative actions during Covid) and so on. And then it becomes clear that the newly hired administrator trained by the long-serving, dedicated administrator is getting something like $10,000 in initial pay more starting out when the administrator has been here for many years. I don’t think that can work and should not work. There is a fundamental HR issue here and that needs to be addressed. (And don’t tell me that the administrative staff can increase their pay by moving around different entities in GU — I do not want my wonderfully qualified administrator to be pushed to move to a different unit in order to make a reasonable living — and me not having a great administrator who will run the department splendidly and is into the mission of it and helps it thrive.)

    This is a fundamental HR issue that we will need to address.

    There needs to be money put behind all these nice proclamations.
    (And faculty need to know that they are not always the only ones
    first on the list of receiving resources.)

  3. Very proud of highlighting this wonderful tribute to the many people that help our university thrive and fulfill our mission of developing men and women CALLED TO BE of service to others and their communities . Without these dedicated people there would be no University, no platform for our mission. Well said because these people are the foundation on which our university has been built and allowed to flourish. Thanks to all of them who helped me to succeed in my almost sixty years on the hilltop. Mille Grazie!

  4. Very proud of highlighting this wonderful tribute to the many people that help our university thrive and fulfill our mission of developing men and women CALLED TO BE of service to others and their communities . Without these dedicated people there would be no University, no platform for our mission. Well said because these people are the foundation on which our university has been built and allowed to flourish. Thanks to all of them who helped me to succeed in my almost sixty years on the hilltop. Mille Grazie!

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