President's Address

This is a big month for Staff Senate. On November 28, we’ll host our annual Holiday on Campus event in the Union. If you’re not familiar with the event, it’s geared toward the children and grandchildren of LSU staff, faculty, and students, and it’s highlighted by photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, food, games, arts and crafts, etc. It’s also completely free. I probably should have started with that part, right?

But seriously, a lot of hard work goes into making the event a successful one, and I want to recognize our Staff Appreciation & Events Committee, led by Deanna Gresham and Mo Carney, for the work it has done to pull things together. Elsewhere in the newsletter, you’ll find a link to sign up as a volunteer at the event. It’s a great way to get involved with Staff Senate, and if you have a child who needs to log service hours for school, surprise them by telling them you’ve signed them up to dress as the Gingerbread Man for two hours.

This past month has been a mix of the good, the bad, and the bittersweet, at least for me personally.

At last month’s Staff Senate General Meeting, I had the privilege of recognizing Richard Pincomb, who passed away on September 1. Ric was a research associate in the LSU Center for Energy Studies for 29 years, and as per an initiative started by Staff Senate a few years ago to revise PS-63 to remember active staff who have passed away with more than 10 years of service, I read some remarks from his co-workers and presented his family with an LSU flag that flew over the Parade Ground in his honor. That was tough because even though I didn’t know Ric, I wanted his family, friends, and co-workers to know that he was valued here and was being recognized appropriately.

Thank you, by the way, to the talented carpenters in LSU Facility Services who made the display case for the flag. You have to remember to thank those guys because they have access to a lot of saws. Just saying.

At that same meeting, we heard from Kenyatta Robertson, program manager of the Commuter Krewe. If you’re not familiar with the organization, the program provides regional businesses, schools, and commuters with options and incentives to help reduce congestion on our roadways by choosing alternative transportation. Kenyatta discussed the I-10 widening project with us and walked us through her group’s efforts to alleviate some of the anticipated burden that will come about as construction progresses. For instance, you can join the Commuter Krewe program and log your carpool, vanpool, bike, walk, and/or bus ride to work. In doing so, you will earn gift cards from Amazon, Raising Cane’s, Wal-Mart, Benny’s, Academy, Shell, and college campus bookstores. You can also connect with other carpoolers in your area. It’s a fantastic program, and I encourage you to visit its website to learn more.

I also had the opportunity, along with LSU Faculty President Inessa Bazayev and Interim Director of Parking & Transportation Services Kaylee Aulds, to meet with Michael Antoine, associate vice president of campus safety, preparedness and emergency response. Michael’s job title is so long his business card folds out. It was a great meeting, though, and Inessa and I learned a lot. One of my two main takeaways was that since being placed in the role, Michael and his team have brought a lot of structure to the campus safety and emergency preparedness model. There are many new initiatives to come out of his office, and as they develop and become more tangible, we’ll be sure to share them with staff. My second takeaway is that you owe it to yourself to reach out to the LSU Office of Emergency Preparedness and request the Campus Safety Pocket Guide and the Active Shooter Pocket Guide. Both are great resources to keep on you or share with others in your respective units.

There’s not really a good transition into this last part, but I want to speak about an issue I was contacted about on the afternoon of the Benefits Fair. A staff member in a same-sex relationship found out that unless she or her partner are diagnosed as infertile, LSU FIRST will not cover impregnation and infertility treatments. Obviously, this adversely affects LGBTQ+ employees, same-sex couples, and transgender individuals. When I learned about this, first, I felt very naïve and, second, I felt angry and brooded over it the rest of the night. How can I fix this? What do I do? I don’t have those answers yet. What I can tell you is that Staff Senate is looking into available resources in the area to help our employees affected in this way. That’s not a very profound answer, is it? But it’s a start. And sometimes that’s what is needed the most.


Joshua Duplechain
Staff Senate President
Director of Communications
LSU College of Engineering