May 23 Staff Forum Recap

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It was a full house at the staff forum in the Bordy Theater on May 23. President Pelton opened the forum by inviting new staff to introduce themselves, and then he turned it over to Art Mombourquette, who gave an update on building projects. He said that 2 Boylston Place will be ready for students to move into in mid-August. He showed a floor plan of one of the floors that will have 26 beds and said that because the building tapers, the upper floors will have 17 beds each. The Dining Center is set to serve its first meals on July 9 for summer conference students. The center will seat 530 with seven different serving areas. Staff and faculty will be able to pay cash for meals in a specific area, while students will be able to pay with meal plans and Board Bucks in other areas.

Many have noticed that the scaffolding around the Little Building is coming down. Mombourquette said that work on the exterior will start in the fall and by the beginning of 2018, there will just be a skeleton left inside. In addition to an increased bed capacity of 286, the building’s plumbing, mechanical, and electrical systems will be modernized. The Colonial Theatre will also be getting an overhaul with upgraded HVAC, dressing rooms, restrooms, and stage equipment. Emerson’s partner, Ambassador Theatre Group, will be painting and re-carpeting and re-seating the theater. Mombourquette also noted that the Beard Room has moved to the second floor of Piano Row and booking for the space will open up in a few weeks. He closed by saying that the community will be invited to open houses of the new spaces in the coming weeks.

Emcee Rhea Becker (Marketing) introduced a seven-minute video about Kasteel Well that will be used for internal use. An Emerson student created the video, which details the castle’s long history and shows the various living and learning spaces on the grounds.

Peter Owens (HR) spoke next about the upcoming changes to the 403(b) retirement plan. He pointed staff to the Emerson retirement plan website,, for information on the fund lineup and Schwab direct brokerage accounts. He encouraged people to attend overview sessions, running through mid-July, and to schedule individual meetings with Transamerica reps July 10–28, both of which can be scheduled on this website. As of August 1, staff members’ future retirement contributions will go into their Transamerica accounts.

Next, Peter Owens and Robert Amelio (Diversity and Inclusion) gave an update on the staff appreciation and recognition program, which will launch in July. The program consists of three levels: peer-to-peer thank yous, divisional programs, and campus-wide excellence awards. The peer-to-peer thank yous will take the shape of an automated form. When a thank you is sent to a colleague, their manager will receive a copy of the message as well. For the divisional programs, each division will be allocated money to be spent on appreciation and recognition initiatives that align with their particular culture. Each division will appoint a liaison who will work with the campus-wide appreciation and recognition committee to build a plan that will be submitted to the committee in September.

One or two excellence awards will be given out monthly to individuals or teams who have been nominated by their peers. Awardees will be selected by the campus-wide appreciation and recognition committee. The online nomination form is expected to launch in July, with the first award being given in August.

The floor was then opened up for community announcements. Chris Daly (Student Success) invited staff to join the employee resource group eQual in marching in the Pride Parade on June 10. She also mentioned the new Student Assistance Fund that her team developed with Institutional Advancement and encouraged staff to donate any amount that they are able to. You can learn more about the staff and faculty giving campaign here.

President Pelton wrapped up the forum by giving highlights of the last academic year. He noted that there was a 13 percent increase in applications last year. Five faculty have retired, including Ted Hollingworth, who spent 54 years at Emerson. A number of new majors launched, such as the BFA in Comedic Arts and BA in Business of Creative Enterprises. A Sports Communication major will launch this coming fall. Colonial Theatre renovations should be completed by spring 2018, with performances starting in early fall 2018.

Rhea Becker then gave Thinking Cup gift cards to five lucky drawing winners.

Nancy Howell (Marketing)