VOICES of the Staff Progress Report 2009—2010


The Voices of the Staff Program (VOICES) was launched in 2005 to provide a sounding board for President Mary Sue Coleman and other university executive leaders to discuss important university-wide issues with the staff community. The program was designed by Associate Vice President for Human Resources Laurita Thomas and a management team she appointed.

The program was designed to:

  • Create a multi-dimensional communication effort that would give staff greater sense of membership in and responsibility for the institution.
  • Promote and sustain high levels of staff engagement in accomplishing the goals of the university. 

In 2008, VOICES applied for and received recurring funding from the Executive Officers, allowing it to continue as an ongoing program of the university, with six network teams focused on issues and opportunities of greatest interest to the staff community.

Program Goals

  • Provide input to the President, Executive Officers and/or the Associate Vice President for Human Resources about promoting the general welfare of the university.
  • Sustain a working culture that enables staff to contribute their best to the Michigan Difference.
  • Promote and facilitate staff participation in the university community and in the university’s missions.
  • Create new ideas that have potential to improve university life.
  • Encourage a sense of community among all university staff members.
  • Create, sustain, and improve multi-directional communication across all levels of staff, management, and leadership.

This report summarizes VOICES’ impacts, achievements and work in progress for the period 2009-2010 and demonstrates how:

  • VOICES-facilitated opportunities for dialogue between staff members and leadership provide a mechanism for staff to experience an enhanced sense of inclusion in the campus community.
  • VOICES has helped to stimulate and foster innovation and engagement through enhanced communication and strengthened connections across job types, across campuses, and between leadership and staff.

A Unique Opportunity…

As an ongoing program of the University, VOICES provides a unique opportunity for the university to build a resilient, engaged and empowered workforce dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in achieving the University of Michigan’s core missions of teaching, research, service and patient care. Through its partnership with thought-leaders at the Ross School of Business, including core faculty members from the Center for Leadership, Change and Innovation and the Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship, VOICES provides a laboratory for the application of best practices in building high-quality connections, resilience, engagement and creativity—all attributes of high-performing organizations studied by Ross School of Business faculty whose research interests focus on innovation, creativity, engagement and leadership.

VOICES’ strategic aspirations focus on shaping the kind of working environment that inspires and enables each person to contribute his or her best skills.  We believe this will place the University of Michigan at the leading edge of higher education in empowering staff members and creating new sources of value for the university.

Next: VOICES' Background and Overview