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Streamlining the system

When candidates sign up for elections this spring, job descriptions for some ASUW Board of Directors positions may look different.

The Board of Directors has proposed adopting some organizational changes to the structure of ASUW’s executive branch, and spoke to the ASUW Senate yesterday night about the potential redesign. The new system would include the elimination and creation of a position, along with some modifications to the titles and responsibilities for the remaining board members.

Eric Shellan, vice president of ASUW, said that the changes stem from a previous transformation to the Board of Directors about a decade ago from a “Board of Control” to their current model with more detailed roles.

“We went from a board with at-large members who didn’t have specified job descriptions to a board with very enumerated responsibilities,” Shellan said of the previous change. “What we’re doing now is taking a look back at what’s worked and what hasn’t and we think that the new proposed structure addresses some of those issues.”

Shellan said at the forum that many of the duties assigned to some positions haven’t matched up with their job descriptions, and that the purpose of the proposed organizational chart is to increase the efficiency of the Board of Directors by condensing and aligning its responsibilities to better fit each position.

Madeleine McKenna, president of ASUW, said that the proposed changes are based off the experience of the current board members.

“Being in these roles for seven or eight months … we’ve noticed ways in which we think the organization can run more efficiently,” McKenna said.

One of the substantial changes being considered is to the office of the vice president. Previously, the vice president was responsible for leadership programs, the Governance Committee, public relations and representative appointments to various university committees. In the proposed model, the vice president would instead oversee ASUW enterprises, day-to-day operations, financial and operating plans and strategic planning.

“A lot of organizations have the model where the president acts as the CEO of the organization and works externally, while the vice president acts as the chief operating officer and manages the organization internally,” McKenna said.

Sarah Round, ASUW director of Operations, said that the changes to the vice president’s duties would require “substantial” amendments to the ASUW constitution.

The proposed structure would also eliminate the director of Organizational Relations role on the board. Currently, the person in office is responsible for all ASUW enterprises, but in the proposed organizational restructuring, enterprise responsibility is dispersed among various board members.

Shellan said the vice president will take on enterprises because of the importance of the revenue that enterprises produce. He said the Board of Directors thinks Rainy Dawg Radio fits under the job description of the director of Programming, and Off-Campus Housing Affairs would go to the director of Community Relations as that position already relates to commuters.

The proposed model also includes a new director of Communications seat on the board.

McKenna said the director of Communications would act as the joint-press secretary and chief media officer for the organization. His or her responsibilities would include online media and public relations.

“What we’ve heard consistently in campaigns is that people are always concerned about how ASUW is reaching out to students,” McKenna said. “We hope that with this new externally focused position on the board, we’ll be able to address those needs.”

Shellan said this new position would eliminate the need for a public relations coordinator — a job recently created by the Board of Directors in December — and save ASUW about $7,000 it would spend on the position annually. The salaries of the Board of Directors members would remain the same under the proposed model.

Details about the new position still have to be ironed out, and Shellan said at the forum that members of the board have different opinions about whether the director of Communications should be an elected position or a hired position to be chosen by the board.

Other changes that would be restructured are for the Finance and Budget director, director of Community Relations, and the director of University Affairs positions. All would obtain either new or more streamlined responsibilities. Shellan said the responsibilities of the president, Personnel director and director of Diversity Efforts would remain mostly the same.

As for elections, McKenna said voters will see a few different titles on the ballot, since the proposed plan also includes changing titles to better fit each position’s function. The Board of Directors has already started this effort by changing the director of Faculty, Administration and Academic Affairs to director of University Affairs at their Jan. 27 meeting.

Shellan said that it could cause problems for the candidates and tickets that are anticipating running, but that as campaigning has not officially started, now is the time to make these changes to the Board of Directors.

“There’s never a convenient time to make structural changes to the organization … We’re addressing this project [now] so that next year, we can ultimately serve students better,” Shellan said.

The proposed chart signifying the structural modifications is in its first draft. Shellan said it would probably undergo some alterations before the Board of Directors votes on whether to approve it Feb. 17, and a Catalyst survey has been created for students to view the changes and provide feedback.

Reach reporter Sarah Schweppe at news@dailyuw.com.

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