University Staff Advisory Council releases annual report, recognizes members

Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The University Staff Advisory Council (USAC) has released its annual report, which reflects on the council's activities and accomplishments during the 2019-2020 term year.

USAC -- which exists for the purpose of suggestion, review, and advice on issues that impact or are impacted by staff -- begins its term year each August. Each year, the council acts in an advisory capacity to the Penn State’s administration through the Vice President for Human Resources. During the 2019-2020 term year, the Council chose community engagement as its annual theme. 

Speakers at monthly USAC meetings shared information and updates from across the University, as well as brought questions and gathered feedback from the council. This past year’s speakers included Vice Provost for Educational Equity Marcus Whitehurst and Associate Vice Provost for Educational Equity Sonia DeLuca Fernández; Professional Development Coordinator Shakoor Ward from Penn State’s Affirmative Action Office; representatives from the President’s Commissions for Equity; Senior Vice President for Finance and Business David Gray; and Executive Vice President and Provost Nick Jones, who spoke on two separate occasions.

USAC hosted its third annual summit in March, at which more than 50 staff members representing 17 staff advisory councils across the commonwealth convened for a day of networking, discussion and learning. The event’s keynote speaker was Blake Colaianne, a Ph.D. candidate in Human Development and Family Studies who shared his presentation “Mindfulness & Self-Compassion: Tools for Surfing the Waves of Life,” which outlined information on mindfulness and how the practice can help develop perspectives, empathy and better regulate emotions.

Three outstanding staff members were honored in May as recipients of the 2020 USAC Staff Awards for their accomplishments and contributions to the University, after a rigorous nomination period that opened to everyone in January.

Members of USAC's executive council discussed higher-education challenges and shared best practices of staff advisory councils from Big Ten peers. USAC increased staff communications by enhancing the resources found on the USAC website and establishing a channel to communicate with Staff Advisory Councils across the commonwealth.

Twenty-seven staff representatives from Penn State campuses served during this term year, and five were outgoing members of the council. In addition to primary job responsibilities, serving on USAC includes at least a three-year commitment, participation in multiple meetings per month throughout that time, and time spent on special projects and events.

The Office of Human Resources and USAC expresses sincere gratitude to these individuals for their time and contributions:

  • Sharon Fong, Assistant Director, Student Transitions and Pre-College Programs, College of Engineering, University Park
  • Jeannine Wonderling, Assistant Director, Education Alliance Partnerships, World Campus Academic Outreach, University Park
  • Marissa Shamrock, Administrative Support Coordinator, Office of the President, University Park
  • Bethany Shaw, Research Data Analyst, College of Health and Human Development, University Park
  • Samantha Walker, Leadership Assistant, Institute for Computational and Data Sciences, University Park

About the University Staff Advisory Council
USAC—the voice for Penn State staff—consists of committed staff who act in an advisory capacity to the central administration; explore issues, policies and practices that impact staff; suggest revisions to policies and new policy initiatives; and advocate for staff welfare and development. USAC serves the president and his administration through the vice president of human resources, and accepts new members annually. USAC can be contacted via email at, and can also be found on Facebook.

Staff interested in potentially joining USAC can learn more at

Last Updated November 11, 2020