It has been said that "A people without history is like wind on the buffalo grass." -Unknown Author
So it is with our professional history, how can we hope to have an awareness of the type of leaders we are becoming and the type of leadership we want to model?
PFLA has included our history, the story of our "root" organization, OSUMA (Oregon State University Management Association), and the successes and challenges of that organization on the way to becoming the organization we are today.
We hope you find the information contained in this history interesting and helpful in understanding your legacy.
The OSU Management Association (OSUMA) began in 1985 as a small group of faculty and management service staff gathering together in a problem-solving session once a month over a brown bag lunch. An individual was chosen at each session to facilitate a topic based on the topical and personal needs of the participants. The group was dedicated to the ideals of being good managers, improving leadership skills, and obtaining quality performance from employees.
As individuals became aware of this monthly group, participation grew and topics for discussion expanded. Speakers were brought in and interest grew in becoming a formal organization. From these early brown bag sessions, the "OSUMA Interaction" series began. The series started as an hourly meeting once a month and grew into an hour and a half to allow for fuller discussion of a topic.
In the spring of 1988, the "management support group" submitted a proposal to Central Administration outlining the goals and objectives of an association for faculty and management staff. After productive interaction, the group received approval from President John Byrne and the Vice Presidents to proceed with the management association activities. Individuals met to put together a bylaws document and discuss the make-up of the organization and the need for officers. In March 1990, OSUMA distributed its premier issue of the OSUMA Bulletin announcing the official status of the organization and a call for membership.
OSUMA's purpose is to:
- Provide development, support and networking opportunities for professional faculty.
- Support the development of professional and personal management skills by sponsoring and recommending skill-enhancement activities for its members.
- Encourage discussion and input regarding management issues.
Faculty and Management service employees were encouraged to join OSUMA because the organization would provide opportunities to:
- build new connections with co-workers
- achieve personal growth
- give something back to OSU and to have a part in the history of OSU
- build networks with others
- share like circumstances and issues to cope and be empowered
- make a difference at OSU
- become a visible part of the University and be a resource to others
- become part of a proactive group and have influence
OSUMA membership was also an option for classified employees through associate membership. Associate membership allows classified employees to become members but also restricted them from attending specific sessions where collective bargaining issues would be discussed.
The strong commitment to professional development and skill building at all levels, made it easy for OSUMA members to support and encourage championing of a faculty/staff development trainer for the campus. OSUMA was instrumental in providing proof to Vice President Ed Coate that the establishment of the position now housed in Human Resources was necessary to the university community. Vice President Coate shared this vision, and a staff development trainer position was established.
OSUMA members and others were instrumental in the formation of the Learning/Mentoring Groups. The philosophy behind the Learning/Mentoring Groups was that experienced personnel could be teamed up with employees wanting to learn specific skills that the experienced personnel had. There was a real need to provide learning opportunities for staff that would assist in their developing skills to help them become eligible for new career opportunities. Training at that time was limited and this program opened opportunities that hadn't existed before. Today, the Learning/Mentoring Groups continue to prosper and provide new skills to others.
In 1996, OSUMA worked with Human Resources to assist in the transition of Management Service employees into fixed-term Professional Faculty. OSUMA arranged for information sessions where Management Service employees could learn about the transition and what changes would come with the new title. Management Service employees were able to voice their concerns and ask questions. These sessions were unique in that Management Service employees were able to meet with Human Resources and have a voice concerning their future. Such meetings had not happened in the past.
OSUMA members have been instrumental in changing the climate on campus to be more inclusive of the resources that professional faculty and staff can offer. Inclusion of professional faculty and staff on university committees and task forces began. OSUMA leadership has provided the names of potential members and others to serve on these committees.
OSUMA has worked with other organizations to build bridges within the OSU community. One collaborative effort involved the leadership of OSUMA and the Office Personnel Association (OPA) in creating an opportunity for dialog between professional faculty and staff and members from upper administration. Two sessions were held in which President Risser, Vice President Specter, Provost Roy Arnold, and Mrs. Les Risser met with professional faculty and staff to answer questions and discuss concerns about the University community. These conversations were successful and resulted in some actions taken to make improvements.
OSUMA has been involved in policy and procedural decisions. Over the years, the University has undergone a number of reviews such as the Administrative Review Committee, University Process Review, and the implementation of Total Quality into its programs. OSUMA and its members have been involved by providing input and counsel. Thanks to OSUMA's hard work, professional faculty and staff are now asked for input on university processes and review committees, search committees, and programs for change.
The Executive Board met to discuss the vision, direction, and the future of OSUMA it soon became apparent that the organization's name did not reflect the inclusive nature of the organization and the goal envisioned for its role in OSU's success. The name did not speak to the strength, knowledge, skill, and power of the membership. After an official vote by the membership and the Executive Board a final decision was made to change the name of the organization from Oregon State University Management Association (OSUMA) to Professional Faculty Leadership Association (PFLA). The new name became official on January 28, 2002.