The University of Arizona

SAC Crossroads Conference to Focus on Wellness

By Shelley Shelton, University Communications | June 6, 2012

The conference will teach staffers ways to take care of themselves and remind them about resources the UA offers to help them meet their wellness goals.

"Wellness" is the theme for this year's Staff Advisory Council Crossroads Conference.
"Wellness" is the theme for this year's Staff Advisory Council Crossroads Conference.
A previous SAC conference featured a Tai Chi workshop. This year's conference theme focuses on wellness.
A previous SAC conference featured a Tai Chi workshop. This year's conference theme focuses on wellness.

When is going to work more like hanging out at a resort during the off-season?

When you're a University of Arizona classified staff member attending the annual Staff Advisory Council Crossroads Conference. This year, it's being held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 18 at the J.W. Marriott Starr Pass Resort & Spa, 3800 W. Star Pass Blvd.

Staffers won't be luxuriating in the resort's lazy river, but they will have a chance to regenerate and learn about resources the UA offers to help them take care of themselves and their loved ones, said Claudia Arias, interim SAC president.

"It's a time for staff to focus on themselves, on what we do and relate to other staff that do what we do," Arias said.

Classified staff wear all kinds of hats at the University, including those of business managers, maintenance and grounds people, administrative assistants and office specialists.

They comprise the largest segment of the UA workforce: In fall 2011, there were 5,466 classified staff, compared with 2,922 faculty members and 3,519 appointed personnel.

Like all employees, classified staff are coping with stressors from both their work and personal lives. Some staff members don't realize the UA has a plethora of resources to address many issues, Arias said.

She said she's heard people talk about wanting to get healthy but not wanting to pay beaucoup bucks for the services of a nutritionist.

She tells them the UA has nutritionists on staff at Life & Work Connections, and the services are free for employees.

"All those services that we tend to say, 'Where do I go to?' We have those stepping stones here at the University," she said.

And with a focus on wellness, this year's Crossroads Conference aims to let classified staffers know about resources that are available as well as educate them on some of the issues that cause them to seek help.

The morning keynote speaker will be Cathy Nicholson, director of human resources for the Arizona Health Sciences Center, who Arias said will talk about what it means to work at the UA and hopefully instill a sense of pride in working here.

The afternoon speaker is Tannya Gaxiola, chairwoman of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, who was named the chamber's 2011 Business Woman of the Year. 

A UA alumna, Gaxiola is the founder and president of QuikHelp, a legal document preparation service.

Breakout sessions will cover topics including emotional eating, online fraud, conflict resolution and elder care.

Outside vendors will be on hand with display tables of information and free goodies, and there will be door prizes, Arias said.

The registration fee includes a continental breakfast and lunch.

Arias said the conference is scheduled for a Monday this year so the people who attend will hopefully spend the rest of the week sharing what they've learned with the people in their offices. Before, the conference was held on a Friday, and SAC members suspect some momentum was lost after participants spent their weekend away from coworkers.

Last year, the conference had more than 230 people in attendance, with more than 15 vendors. SAC hopes to have as many or more people this year, Arias said.

"It's a time for classified staff to unite and come together and say, 'OK, this is a conference just for you,' " she said.

The registration fee is $65, and all participants need to register online. Payments can be mailed.