History of the Council

Origins

The Bloomington Professional Council constitution was approved on Oct. 6, 1985. The first meeting of elected officials occurred on May 14, 1986. The Council's activities are financially supported by the university with an annual budget allocation and the proceeds of fundraising events. The Council is under the auspices of the office of Provost Lauren Robel. The Council also works in conjunction with Human Resources Management to review the units on a regular basis and to implement changes needed to maintain the equalized population distribution.

The original Council was composed of 10 electoral units, with a varying number of representatives for each unit. The units were formed along organizational reporting lines. Today the Council is comprised of 21 members, who are elected over three successive years, each serving a three-year term.  Although the unit structure no longer exists, it is interesting to note the following list of the original units.

Original Council Districts

Unit 1: President; V.P. Development; V.P. Planning; V.P. University Relations; University Chancellor; V.P. Facilities (three representatives) Unit 2: V.P. Finance (four representatives) 
Unit 3: Treasurer (one representative) 
Unit 4: Dean of Students; Undergraduate Life (two representatives) 
Unit 5: Physical Plant (one representative) 
Unit 6: Halls; Campus Foods; Copy Machines; Communication Services; Microfilm (one representative) 
Unit 7: IMU; Auditorium; Bookstore (one representative) 
Unit 8: Bloomington V.P. (three representatives) 
Unit 9: College of Arts and Sciences (four representatives) 
Unit 10: Profesional Schools and Affiliates (four representatives)

A Brief History

On October 3, 1986, Doris Jean Burton, Vice President of the newly created Professional Council, addressed the Faculty Affairs Committee of the I.U. Board of Trustees. She began her remarks with the following bit of Council history:

"Nearly five years ago an ad hoc group of four professional employees located at Bloomington presented to the personnel committee of the Board of Trustees a petition requesting representation of professional employees in the governing structure of Indiana University. After that meeting the Administration appointed a committee to determine the wishes of this group for representation. The overwhelming consensus was that a new council should be formed. Then another committee was appointed to write a constitution and by laws for a new group. The Professional Council, a group of 24 professional staff members representing more than 1300 professional staff employees in Bloomington, is the result of that request. We held our first meeting in May 1986."

The Bloomington Professional Council is still young, considering it is part of the history of an institution that has been around since 1820. But the time that the Professional Council has existed has been an exciting and productive era . . . and the Council's initiatives, realized and pending, continue to be of critical importance to the entire University community.

Representation and recognition for professional staff has not come easily. For years we were referred to as the invisible force, the forgotten and exploited. But shortly after the creation of the Professional Council, our image began to improve and our visibility increased measurably. On November 21, 1986, the Council's first President, Don Brineman, along with other Council officers, met with University President John Ryan to discuss Council concerns. Perhaps the meeting was not historic but it was a good indicator that professional staff had finally found a voice -- and that the administration was prepared to listen. 

Although today we take for granted that professional staff will be involved in all of the major decisions involving their jobs and futures, our representation on University, campus and Faculty Council committees was extremely limited until the late 1980's. In 1988 we finally made some headway when the Council was given representation on the search and screen committees for the Dean of Undergraduate Life, the Dean of the College and Arts and Sciences, and the Associate Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School. We also secured appointments on committees such as the Transportation and Parking Advisory Committee and we were asked to participate in a number of Task Forces related to President Ehrlich's planning efforts. Faculty Council Committee appointments that year included: Budgetary Affairs, Fringe Benefits, External Relations, and Affirmative Action. Finally, but better late than never, professional staff were beginning to have some impact on their own destinies.

The goals of the Council over the past years have been relatively constant and, for the most part, fall into a few major categories such as professional development, salary and benefits, and equitable treatment across the board. Early in its history the Council dealt with concerns about changing health care plans, responsibility center management, reduction in force, computer literacy, recycling, and the TIAA/CREF Retirement option. Today's concerns include job reclassification, performance appraisals, benefits for part-time employees, and grievance procedures.

The Council's organization was established by its Constitution and Bylaws which were approved on October 16, 1985. The original Council was composed of 10 electoral units with a varying number of representatives for each unit. The current Council has eliminated the unit structure and is composed of 21 members.

Throughout its history, the Council has been fortunate to have leaders of extraordinary talent, vision, and competence. There have been seventeen Council presidents; Don Brineman, Doris Jean Burton, Chuck Foster, Suzanne Phillips, Sandra Churchill, Hugh Jessop, Tim Rice, Sherry Fisher, Todd Schmitz, Errol Huffman, JoEllen Baldwin, Jane Rogan, Isabel Piedmont, Christina Kuzmych, Dan Ondrik, Rob Aspy, Jennifer Chaffin, Grant Simpson, Kelly Thacker and Jennifer Pearl.

Although the Bloomington Professional Council's history is not a long one, it's been time enough to succeed. The legacy is there and it remains for us, the current Council members, to sustain that legacy. When David Starr Jordan was President of Indiana University, he is alleged to have done away with all the rules but two: you were not permitted to shoot the faculty or to burn any buildings.

If the current Council can follow these same two rules, and if we work together and refuse to give up -- the future looks bright!