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Staff Council

Action Items

March 2020
  • Action you would like to see taken:

    I would like all Southern Miss administrative units--both academic and non-academic, to identify their administrators in easily found locations on their webpages. This is frequently needed information that helps all of us do our jobs, but if one used only the current University website as a guide, one would think the University had no administrators. Both the University's internal and external audiences need such information. In addition, I think every administrative unit that people need to contact--or at least a parent unit--should be listed in the A-Z Index on the website. It's counterproductive to keep such information secret.


    Staff Council will take these under advisement and begin discussing options for proposing a solution. More information to come.

February 2020


Action you would like to see taken:

Change so that faculty and new adjunct have more time to prepare for spring semester. Difficulties with on-boarding in a 2 week period.


Staff Council will take these under advisement and begin discussing options for proposing a solution. More information to come.


July 2019

Concerns:  Dr. Monty Graham, Assistant VP for Research, Coastal Operations to discuss our position in the blue economy and USM's commitment to research and coastal studies. Dr. Casey Maugh-Funderburk, Vice Provost for Gulf Park Campus.

Action you want to see Taken:

  • The above named be considered as guest speakers for upcoming Staff Council meetings.


  • Staff Council will take these under advisement and begin discussing options for future guests. More information to come.


February 2019

  • Concerns:
    • Item:Tuition Waivers for USM employees being charged to departments 
  • Action you want to see taken:
    • I am seeking a resolution for the USM-mandated fringe benefit of tuition for employees being ultimately charged to the home department of that employee.
  • Solution:
    • The committee met  February 27 and 28. The consensus of the committee was that while the policy does not specifically identify how the tuition waiver will be expensed, the form for the waiver the employee has to complete to request the free classes, requires budget authority approval. When the form is approved by the budget authority, responsibility is taken at that point for the cost of the waiver.


      All tuition waivers are charged to the home department, but for E&G funded areas, they are paid out of a central fund. That central fund does not cover grants or auxiliaries. Auxiliary units are required to cover the cost of the tuition waiver as they are fiscally self-sustaining. Employees paid by grants have to have the tuition waiver approved by the grant as the cost of the tuition waiver may not be covered by the grant.


      The Salaries and Benefits committee recommends a paragraph be added to the employee handbook section 4.2 / 4.2.2 Procedures outlining the procedure of how the tuition waiver will be handled as far as expensing the cost of the waiver. It is also being recommended that section 4.2.3 be revised for current University Practices and section 4.2.4 revised for new payment options.


      Peggy H. McArthur, Chair

      Linda Dorsey

      Allison Mojzis

August 2018

  • Concerns:
    • Item: I am submitting this on behalf of a full time USM employee who shall remain anonymous. It has recently been brought to our attention that a full time USM employee can not become a full time USM graduate student unless they have not been employed by the university for at least 6 months prior.
  • Action you want to see taken:
    • We would like this issue brought up because, to us, it does not make sense. We want to know why this is and what can be done to change this. If a hardworking employee wants to further their career and education through USM, they should be able to without an obstacle such as this.
  • Solution:
    • The ACA does not consider an employee of an educational institutional as a "new hire" unless the employee has had at least a 26-week break in service. That means if a person transfers statuses with no break in service or is rehired in less than 26 weeks, the stability period remains the same 12-month period and the benefit-eligible status is locked in; the measurement period only restarts if there is a 26-week gap between the two employments. For example, a full-time employee would maintain his/her benefit-eligible status, according to ACA, for the remaining stability period, even as a student worker. If a full-time employee were to transfer to a non-benefit status during the year, as in the example above, the ACA requires benefit eligibility to be maintained through the remaining stability period year and then possibly another year. We identify positions as benefit-eligible or not for reasons, so this would negate those reasons and be disruptive financially.


  • Concerns:
    • In the past few years I have noticed when staff retire in December or June receptions are different for each. The University can't use money to do a reception so it is left to the ones in his/her office to do something for that retiree who has given their entire life to USM. Some get nice receptions while others get a good bye or good luck with retirement. Remember the staff is the glue that holds everything together.
  • Action you want to see taken:
    • I would like to see Staff Council do a retirement reception for all retiring staff. You could still get the office where they work involved and decorate their retirement table. We should have two a year, one in December and one in January.
  • Solution:
    • This action item was brought forward by the Executive Committee of Staff Council to our VPFA Allyson Easterwood and Associate Vice President for Human Resources Krystyna Varnado. VPFA Allyson Easterwood will be further looking into this. In chapter 8 of the Employee Handbook retiree privileges are addressed. Item 8.2 An annual Retirement Luncheon is one of the retirement benefits here at the University of Southern Mississippi. This event is associated with the end of the year DMA business meeting. An invitation is sent to each official retiree. Staff council is not currently equipped to hold retirement receptions with our current resources.
  • Concerns:
    • It is too expensive, especially for the employee making $24,050 a year paying the same amount as someone earning $80,000.00 a year.
  • Action you want to see taken:
    • Have parking fees be a percent basis of an employee yearly pay. Such as 1/3% yearly salary.
  • Solution:
    • This action item was brought forward by the Executive Committee of Staff Council to our VPFA Allyson Easterwood and Associate Vice President for Human Resources Krystyna Varnado. VPFA Allyson Easterwood shared that comparatively our parking fees are quite low compared to other institutions but would consider examining other funding models with the new leadership of parking management.


  • Concerns:
    • Physical Plant communication with building liaisons is poor. Once a work order is submitted and accepted, it is very rare for a building liaison to receive an update on the status of a work order. There have been many times that the only update I receive from the Physical Plant is when I receive an email saying the work was complete, and that could be weeks after the actual work was completed. Completion notices do not contain any explanation of the work that was done. This causes logistical and budgetary issues for the requestor, especially when the end of the fiscal year is near. Building liaisons are given no notice of when a Physical Plant crew will be on site unless the members of the crew have frequently worked with the building liaison. A window of time would be appreciated so building liaisons can make any accommodations to make sure the crews can come in and do their jobs. Also, as of today, I have approximately 30 open work orders, some of them I submitted over a month ago and I have not received any update on when those will be completed. I fear that those were placed at the bottom of a pile somewhere and forgotten.
  • Action you want to see taken:
    • I would like to see the Physical Plant use a system and operating procedure similar to iTech. iTech regularly calls requestors if they require more information, and their email system outlines everything that is discussed over the phone. Their crews are consistent at notifying requestors of when they will be arriving, though not all the time. Once the work is completed, the requestor receives a final email outlining the problem the crew faced and the solution they used.
  • Solution:
    • Staff Council is currently addressing this action item. Please keep checking back with the website.


May 2018

  • Concerns:
    • I currently pay for a "car" permit which allows me two vehicles, with only one on campus at a time.
    • I only have one "car" but I also have a motorcycle.
    • Current USM policy dictates that I buy an additional permit for my motorcycle.
    • This does not seem necessary as I am still only bringing one vehicle to work at a time.
  • Action you want to see taken:
    • Register my motorcycle as the second vehicle on my "car" permit.”
  • Discussion:
    • Jelisa Brown explained that, yes, there are separate registrations required.
    • The primary reason is that since motorcycles can be parked at bicycle racks they are treated separately (and obviously different).
    • A person can purchase a one year permit OR a permit that doesn’t expire. I believe that one is $50.
  • Recommendation:
    • The committee recommends that starting next year all vehicle registrations be handled the same.
    • This would do away with the ‘forever’ motorcycle registration, motorcycles would be required to park in regular parking spaces, and a motorcycle would be allowed to be one of the person’s registered vehicles.
    • *Jelisa reported to the committee that the person who submitted the Action Item has had his/her issue resolved.
    • UPDATED 6-8-2018
    • The committee recommends that starting next year (FALL) all vehicle registrations be handled the same.
    • This would do away with the ‘forever’ motorcycle registration, however will grandfather in the ones that have “Forever” registration.
    • No rules changes to where to park.
    • Approved by VP Allyson Easterwood per Jacob Cochran

April 2018

  • Concerns:
    • I currently have more than 2 vehicles that I regularly drive to work depending on the day and weather.
    • I also know several other employees that do the same.
    • For us to do this we need to remove and re-register each "new" vehicle when we elect to drive them on campus.
    • This is time consuming and not necessary.
  • Action you want to see taken:
    • Register more than 2 vehicles on the account but still limit us to 1 vehicle on campus at a time.
  • Discussion
    • Jelisa explained that the system was designed for another university, and that some of their policies were adopted. Meaning, we didn’t ask the vendor to make software development changes.
    • DPM staff have the ability to go in to a person’s account and add additional vehicles.
    • Recommendation:
      • Since this was just a policy decision, with no real merit, the committee recommends that we either do away with the limitation, or increase the number of allowed vehicles.
      • The change would help lessen the aggravation and frustration felt by staff, faculty, and students.
      • The policy that limits us to one vehicle on campus at a time would NOT change.
      • UPDATED 6-8-2018
      • The committee recommends that the # of registered vehicles be increased to 4 with NO rule changes.
      • Approved by VP Allyson Easterwood per Jacob Cochran

September 2017

  • Concerns:
    • On Aug. 30, classes were canceled as of 2pm because of “continuing severe weather,” while offices remained open.
    • If classes are canceled because of severe weather, that implies unsafe conditions.
    • Staff have asked why they had to remain on the job if campus was unsafe for students.
    • In many cases, faculty also left campus because of the canceled classes and severe weather, leaving staff to remain.
  • Action you want to see taken:
    • Please clarify why offices should remain open if weather conditions are unsafe.
  • Solution:
    • The intention of canceling classes was to keep those students not on campus from coming to campus and to keep those who were on campus from trying to walk to class.
    • While there were students, staff, and faculty still on campus at the time of the alert and the message to cancel the rest of the day, we were (or should have all been) in a designated area taking cover as per the Eagle Alert that went out; inevitably putting us in safe spaces around campus and out of harms way.
    • The goal was to keep traffic to a minimum thereby helping to keep campus constituents where they were.
    • If another wave were to come through, we would again have those safe spaces to go to for cover.
    • Some staff and faculty made the decision to leave campus, whether to go home or to pick up their children from schools that decided to close early due to the same anticipation of repeat weather.
    • It was brought up that some staff members were asked to take vacation hours if they made the decision to leave early while faculty members were not asked to do the same.
    • This would be because faculty don't accumulate vacation hours like staff.
    • They are under a contract for a certain amount of time each year.
    • The university did find that the weather alarm was not functioning properly that day.
    • They made the appropriate adjustments to the system and tested it immediately.

August 2017

  • Concerns:
    • As a staff member taking classes I am incredibly thankful for the tuition waiver.
    • The course fee charges that we accrue that are not covered by our tuition waiver are a small price to pay for an education.
    • However, the student activity fee which includes Payne Center use, access to sporting events, and other privileges that staff members do not get to enjoy.
    • We cannot claim student status for free use of the Payne Center, we cannot have a student ID made which would allow us discounts at vendors in town, and we are not eligible for free or student discounts on athletic events.
    • So, what does a student activity fee cover for staff members enrolled in courses?
  • Action you want to see taken:
    • Could the student activity fee be waived for staff members taking classes?
    • Can staff members enrolled in courses have access to the privileges that traditional students receive through the activities fee?
  • Update: Fees are prorated based on number of hours you take. Online fee is separate and billed to all in addition to the student fee.

July 2017

  • Concerns:
    • Over the years loss of many trees due to storms and construction.
    • Little shade or no attempt to replant shade trees to minimize the heat island & sun exposure on the parking lots and improve aesthetics.
    • Little or no attempt to remove invasive species and replace them with native species.
  • Action you want to see taken:
    • Input from employees to include long-term planning for better use of resources by grounds crew via physical plant.
    • Specifically - plant live oaks as an investment in the future.
    • Specifically - revegetating areas cut down under power lines with perennial flowers to promote native landscape and improve aesthetics and wildlife.
    • Specifically - remove invasive plants and replace with native species.
  • Solution: Staff Council is currently addressing this action item. Please keep checking back with the website.
  • Concerns:
    • Staff Council has the pictures.
    • Photo 6 is of the opposite side of the entry stairs and ramp to Bond Hall where you can see that the same thing is beginning to happen.
    • The Institute for Disability Studies is on the fourth floor of Bond Hall, and several of the visitors and student employees have physical disabilities, yet they still have to try to either walk or take a wheelchair through this mess.
    • Also, it is the entrance to the University Police Department, so those with disabilities needing police assistance use this sidewalk as well.
    • Employees in our department (third floor of Bond Hall) as well as others have slipped in this mud numerous times. It is not only an eyesore, but also a safety issue.
    • That area gets traffic from the Parking Garage, Moffitt Health Center, both Century Park North and South, etc., so it's not some obscure, rarely used area of campus.
    • And, I have put in a work order to remove the mud after it rains, but we shouldn't have to do that.
    • Something really needs to be done, because it is not fair nor safe for those with disabilities or those without.
  • Action you want to see taken:
    • Need area fixed so that mud is not constantly forming thereby creating a hazard.
    • See pictures that were forwarded to staff council.
  • Solution: Staff Council is currently addressing this action item. Please keep checking back with the website.
  • Concerns:
    • Street is too narrow for these parking spaces to continue as is
    • Pedestrians dart in/out between parked autos and open doors into street into oncoming traffic with no warning
    • Accidents waiting to happen, if not already happening
    • Autos coming from the west have to move off the street onto grass/side to avoid getting hit when two larger or oversized vehicles meet at same time side by side moving along the street
  • Action you want to see taken:
    • Eliminate the side street parallel parking spaces only in front of the building.
  • Solution: 

    After consulting with the University Police Department, it was decided to be in the best interest of the university to eliminate all of the parking along Pearl Street.  Parking and Transit Services planned to phase those out over the summer of 2019 to minimize the impact to campus.  However, the City of Hattiesburg repaved Pearl Street over the holiday break and officials were deeply concerned about adding back this parking.  After multiple conversations between the city and USM administration, it was decided to let these spaces go now instead of five months down the road. 

    The good news is Parking and Transit Services will place faculty/staff parking into the first two rows of the Theater and Dance parking lot west of Harkins Hall.  As a result of these changes, faculty and staff will have a net gain of 39 parking spaces over the loss of street parking.  The lines are being painted to denote faculty/staff parking and additional signage has been ordered, however, permanent signs may not be in place by the start of spring full term classes.  Commuter students will have to make use of the parking lots on Ross Boulevard, 34th-35th Avenues, and Scholarship Hall. 

  • Concerns:
    • Several streets on campus need to be paved, especially Southern Avenue at the front of campus (McLemore Hall area) before football season starts
    • I think it is the worst of the streets, but I may be wrong, and it's been in bad shape for over a year now.
  • Action you want to see taken:
    • Pave the streets
    • Is there a time frame as to when this will happen?
  • Solution: This street was paved the week of 12/18/17.

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