Joseph Pastorik steps down as Staff Council chair, leaves university

Patrick Gage Kelley Apr 5, 2010

The current chair of Staff Council stepped down last Wednesday. In an e-mail to Staff Council representatives, Joseph Pastorik, the director of building operations and facilities for the Tepper School of Business, announced he would be ending his term as chair, as well as leaving the university.

Pastorik announced his decision to step down without prior notice, simply citing that his “need to care for a family member has become acute, and the decision to create a work/life balance has become increasingly difficult.” He also praised Staff Council’s current leadership, including Vice Chair Joe Imbimbo and past chair Jennifer Cox.

Staff Council has existed for over a decade at Carnegie Mellon. It was established to provide a representative body and voice to advocate the issues of staff members across the university.

As stated in the group’s constitution, its chief purpose is to “examine matters related to all staff, and to formulate recommendations” as well as representing “all persons holding full or part time staff appointments.” Staff Council is for the staff what student government is for students at Carnegie Mellon.

The Tartan spoke with Cox, the financial manager for the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs and the past chair of Staff Council.

While she recognized Pastorik’s departure as surprising, she is confident that Staff Council will work through this transition. Cox believes that the leadership change will pass without turmoil, but she did wish that the campus could be more aware of Staff Council. “I don’t think people on campus realize that we are here to advocate for them,” she said.

Just last year, with Cox at the helm, Staff Council adopted a new slogan: “Advocacy. Involvement. Impact.” Yet many on campus may not realize that Staff Council sponsors a number of prominent campus activities, including Kennywood Day, Take your Sons and Daughters to Work Day, a food drive, and President’s Forums. “Most importantly, we are here to address concerns of staff,” Cox said.

In several recent Forum articles, The Tartan has focused on the lack of involvement and awareness from students about what student government actually does, and there are similar concerns with Staff Council. While currently down to six vacant seats, Cox believes “part of the problem is that many staff members are unaware of Staff Council, or, if they are aware, they are unsure of what we do.”

She also said “some supervisors are less supportive of staff involvement on council.” To address this, Staff Council members have been reaching out to deans and vice presidents to promote their divisions’ participation in addressing the needs of staff across the university — needs that do exist and are not without controversy.

Earlier this academic year, staff on a monthly pay schedule were informed that they would be switched to bi-weekly pay. This change was mandatory, and staff were informed that in December 2009 they would not be paid the full monthly amount. Many individuals disagreed with the adjustment, arguing that the timing was unfair: Right before the holiday season, staff would receive approximately half of their expected pay, with the remainder not being distributed until April.

With Cox’s work as financial manager for Student Affairs, she was actively involved in the issue and believes that the administration in the end was “understanding of the hardship it caused, and responded very well with a supplement to the income of the affected staff members.”
Staff Council has also recently dealt with the reduced budget cuts around campus, especially concerning involuntary staff terminations over the past two years. Imbimbo, a principal software engineer in Computing Services and the current vice chair of Staff Council, pointed to Staff Council’s work allowing debit card use in conjunction with staff flex accounts.

He stated that this would “allow staff to use the card … to pay for over-the-counter drugs, prescription drugs, and co-pays,” something many staff members have asked for.

Imbimbo also confirmed that he has now assumed the position of chair, a job he will continue for the remainder of Pastorik’s term plus next year’s term, for which he was slated to serve as chair.

From Pastorik’s e-mail to the staff, it was clear his decision was not taken lightly, saying he would “surely miss the CMU staff, but remain inspired by [the staff’s] demonstrated commitment to higher education, particularly through the mission of Staff Council.”

His trust is now in Imbimbo, Cox, and all of Staff Council’s members to continue his work and promote the activities, voice, and mission of better representing staff at Carnegie Mellon.

For more information about Staff Council, including news, meeting times, and upcoming events, see the group’s website at www.cmu.edu/staff-council.