Photo by Candace diCarlo
The new chair of the A-3 Assembly got there on the spur of the moment: A colleague invited Troy Odom (C96) to attend an A-3 Assembly general meeting last spring. As luck would have it, the meeting was also the groups general election, and the person who had planned to run for chair could not do so due to illness.
So Odom decided to run on the spot, and won.
And now hes thinking, Wouldnt it be great if more people knew about all the things Penn staff can take advantage of?
He himself has been pretty good at taking advantage, attending campus events and receptions, soaking up the cultural and social atmosphere. Those perks contribute to his satisfaction with his job in Penns affirmative action office.
When we asked in July about his goals and plans for the group, he had already come up with several ideas to connect Penn staff to one another and to campus resources. Some of them, such as the upcoming resource fair co-sponsored with the monthly-paid staff group, the Penn Professional Staff Assembly, are already reality.
Q. Why did you decide to get involved with the A-3 Assembly?
A. Coming from my perspective of being at the University for a while, I just think that its important for employees to know that the University has resources out there that are available to them. Being an employee, sometimes I dont know about certain things, and I think that one of the primary responsibilities of the A-3 Assembly is to be an additional resource that employees can go to, to find information about programs that are available to them, or centers or services.
For example, some employees might think that the Penn Womens Center or Afro-American Resource Center are just for students, whereas thats not the case. They deal with employee issues as well. Same with Affirmative Action.
Q. What sorts of things have you been able to pick up from the previous
leadership about what the A-3 Assembly has accomplished?
A. Obviously, one of the primary accomplishments that the previous leadership was able to achieve was the benefits package for weekly-paid employees. [Weekly-paid staff can now participate in the same tax-deferred retirement savings plan that monthly-paid staff get.] I know a number of people in the past have worked for years on that. And with that accomplishment achieved, it seems like a lot of the barriers between weekly-paid and monthly-paid [staff] have been broken down. So a lot of the issues that were going to work on this year are going to be basically employee issues [that are not specific to A-3s].
Q. Such as?
A. Such as quality of work life issues like stress in the workplace. That crosses all boundaries. Benefits. Investment like having TIAA-CREF come out and talk to both the PPSA and the A-3 Assembly at a large function where you can have everyone together so you can talk about benefits.
One of our big things wed like to do is a resource fair that would have all these offices come out and have whatever pamphlets they have, and itd be open to all employees.
Again, I really think that the boundaries between non-exempt and exempt employees are
Q. Gradually becoming blurrier?
A. Yeah, gradually becoming blurrier. Jack Heuer is proud to tell you that he started out as an A-3 Assembly person. And hes worked his way up. Hes vice president of Human Resources now.
One of the things that HR seems like theyre interested in is retaining people, having employees know that theres a great opportunity here at Penn for them. Hopefully, we would be a small part of that. One of their concerns is that people dont look at Penn first before they look outside for jobs when they want to transfer out [of their current jobs].
Q. What led you to stay on as an employee after you graduated?
A. Actually, its a comfortable environment. I worked as a workstudy in one of the offices and looked for jobs and started working at the University. I liked working at the Nursing School; there are a lot of nice people over there, and I have the opportunity to work in Affirmative Action. Its been a great office. I like working for Penn. It has good benefits, [and] most areas seem like its not as cutthroat as some other businesses that Ive worked at.
Q. Do you see yourself as building a career here?
A. Thats a possibility. Id like to. Id love to be involved with policy, the policy decisions. I think its really exciting.
Q. So how was it that you just walked into a meeting, first time youve
ever attended one, and then next thing you know, bang! youre chair?
A. Well, the person who brought me said that they thought Id be a good chair. So well see where it goes. [Actually, Odom had attended some events sponsored by the A-3 Assembly before attending his first general membership meeting.]
The A-3 Assemblys first general membership meeting of the year
takes place Tuesday, Sept. 11, at noon in the Terrace Room, Logan Hall,
249 S. 36th St.; general meetings are held monthly. For more information,
on the Web, or call
The Employee Resource Fair will take place Friday, Sept. 28, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wynn Commons in Perelman Quadrangle (between Houston and College halls). If you represent an office or organization that offers services for staff and would like to participate, contact Odom at 215-898-6993 or Adam Sherr, PPSA chair, at 215-898-6867.
Originally published on August 30, 2001