The first known meeting of nonacademic employees at what was then Northern Illinois State Teachers College was held on January 9, 1931. College President Karl L. Adams conducted the meeting, explaining that all employees except faculty and the president's secretary were hired through the State of Illinois Civil Service System. He stressed that these were not political appointments.
Statistics from that period show that 729 students were enrolled and about 30 civil service workers were employed in such capacities as engineer, stenographer, building maintenance worker, bookkeeper, secretary to the dean of women, business manager and janitor. In his comments to the staff, Adams advised employees to be courteous and considerate in all of their contacts with faculty and students. (No doubt a man ahead of his time, Adams also asked staff members not to smoke on college grounds.)
On April 7, 1961, the Non-Academic Council of Northern Illinois University was formed as an advisory group to the administration. Council members were elected by vote with two representatives from each of four divisions: operational services, clerical and secretarial, food services, and administration and supervision.
The council's first order of business was to report on and ratify its newly proposed constitution and bylaws. Its second agenda item was the election of a chairperson, vice chairperson and secretary. The council then elected their Publication Committee to establish a monthly newsletter. Its purpose was to disseminate information about jobs, council activities and other items of interest to staff. Next, the council's Projects Committee was created to coordinate educational and recreational activities.
This historic meeting of nonacademic employees marked the beginning of what is now known as the Operating Staff Council.
December 17, 1969, marks the first known meeting of the newly named Operating Staff Council. The name change was proposed by NIU's personnel office and adopted by the council to better reflect its constituency. Eventually, the constitution and bylaws were changed to permit the election of a proportionate number of members from each university division.
Many of the issues described in meeting minutes from that period and in subsequent years are important to council members today. These issues include better employee benefits, merit raises and salary increases, communication and public relations, representation on university committees, recognition awards, staff education and family activities.
Through the years, the council gained responsibility and recognition by advising the university on issues important to operating staff.
NIU is one of the largest universities in the state and employs approximately 1,800 operating staff in a wide variety of capacities: administrative, managerial, technical, public relations, secretarial, clerical, food service, janitorial, groundskeeping and other support services. The Operating Staff Council works closely with the university to enhance the quality of life for operating staff employees.
The council's 17 members are elected according to the council's constitution and bylaws. Council members and other operating staff represent their constituency on a variety of university and council committees and play an important role in the development of university policy as it relates to operating staff.
|2005-1/2007||Rachel X. Turner|