Group shot of the 2001 Classified Senate members with Jim Kemper (white shirt in back right)

Photo courtesy of: University Communications and Marketing

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Classified Senate 25th anniversary celebration relocated to Grover Center Atrium

President McDavis to speak at June 3 event

Classified Senate will celebrate its 25th anniversary at 11 a.m. Tuesday, June 3, with a rededication of the Canada Red Cherry Tree in Emeriti Park that was planted in fall 2000 in honor of the organization's 10th anniversary.

The 25th anniversary plaque will be placed at the base of a Canada Red Cherry tree opposite the 10th anniversary plaque.

President Roderick J. McDavis and current Classified Senate Chair Bonnie Behm-Geddes will speak during the event, which will take place in the Grover Center Atrium due to possible inclement weather. Registration begins at 10:30 a.m. and lunch will be served until 2 p.m.

The tree dedication will be followed by a picnic. The Larry's Dawg House ice cream truck, Rufus the Bobcat and Homer, the mascot of the Southern Ohio Copperheads, will make an appearance. The event is open to non-bargaining classified employees from all six Ohio University campuses.

Former Classified Senate Chair Gail Houlette commented on the upcoming celebration.

"What a wonderful milestone, 25 years! For all those who have served and all who have been represented by Classified Senate, please take this opportunity to celebrate the positive impact your voices have had and will continue to have throughout the years," Houlette said. "It is also a time of reflection on where we have been, where we are and where we would like to be in the future."

Former Ohio University Chief Human Resources Officer Jim Kemper worked closely with Classified Senate during the first plaque dedication and tree planting in fall 2000. The ceremony was originally scheduled for fall 1999 before inclement weather caused a one-year delay.

Classified Senate represents more than 550 classified employees and has been at the forefront of important employee issues such as donated sick time, accrued vacation, domestic partner benefits and holiday closure.

"I am proud to have served as a past chair of Classified Senate," said former Classified Senate Chair Wendy Kaaz. "The senate has been able to accomplish so much over the past 25 years. The support they give and receive is phenomenal."

Senate supports five $1,000 undergraduate scholarships each year. In 1993, Senate decided to sell cotton coverlets with the goal of endowing one undergraduate scholarship. Within a few months, Senate had sold more than 2,300 coverlets and eventually raised more than $60,000. That is when Senate decided to endow four student scholarships instead of one and in October 1996, it awarded for the first time the Ohio University Employee Scholarship, Regional Campus Scholarship, Academic Scholarship and the Non-Traditional Scholarship. By 2005, Senate had raised enough money to award a fifth scholarship, the Multicultural Scholarship for Appalachian Students.  

Senate still raises money by selling merchandise such as its historic cotton coverlet, stuffed Bobcat kitten wearing a paw logo on its T-shirt, and hand-painted pewter Bobcat pin. Senate sells most of its merchandise during Homecoming, Moms Weekend and Commencement.

"Hard work and dedication to the cause at hand comes to mind when I think of Classified Senate," said former Classified Senate Chair Tammy Jordan. "What an honor it was to be a part of the first 25 years. I learned so much, made some life-long friends and I will never forget this invaluable experience."

For more information, contact Christi Lee at

Classified Senate History:

Classified Senate has overcome some major obstacles in its 25 years. In 1987, a unsuccessful proposal was submitted to the university by a small group of classified staff members regarding the creation of a representative group for classified employees. At the time, classified employees were the only employee group without representation.

In early 1989, after an unsuccessful unionization effort aided by the United Auto Workers of America, the idea of creating classified employee representation was picked up again by another small group of classified staff members. They gave their initial proposal to Vice President for Administration Carol Harter and after several meetings a formal proposal was presented and approved by Harter and President Charles Ping.

The first meeting of the new Academic Staff Support Council was held on July 19, 1989, where it changed its name to the Classified Staff Advisory Council (CSAC). In 1998, CSAC reorganized its structure to allow the Council to become a senate like the other university organizations that were representing employees. The organization later changed its name to Classified Senate to better reflect its purpose.

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