Our journey began in the winter of 1992 when several African American Academic Staff members expressed concerns about recruitment and retention of African American Academic Staff. We decided to meet to discuss this and other issues such as professional development, improving the climate at the University of Wisconsin for African American faculty, staff, and students, greater community connections, and the overall desire to support and see each other on a regular basis.

The African American Academic Staff Council was formally initiated in March 1993. One of our first actions was to meet with the Black Faculty Council to discuss our common agendas, and to jointly present a plan of action to the Chancellor for making UWM more “user friendly” to the African American community at large. In 2000, the two groups merged, forming the African American Faculty & Staff Council.

Some of our goals have been to serve as a welcoming unit to new African American employees; provide a forum for discussion of issues and actions pertinent to our community; initiate an annual conference focusing on African Americans in education; and provide a mechanism for us to participate in mentoring and supportive relationships.
One of our biggest achievements was the institution of our Annual African Americans in Education Conference. The conference served as a professional development outlet for the UWM and greater Milwaukee communities. It afforded African Americans the opportunity to address issues in greater depth to a larger audience. Finally, the African Americans in Education Conference served to facilitate new insights and create new alliances that help members remain renewed and refreshed in our knowledge, perspectives, and goals.

Through the years, the African American Faculty & Staff Council experienced many milestones including, but not limited to, the following:

• Organized the UWM Blood Drive to find a bone marrow match for an African American colleague. The University has continued the blood drive annually.

• Established the “Flo Seefeldt Scholarship”

• Hosted four one-day conferences

• Hosted a 3-day national conference. It was after the success of this conference that the two groups merged, the African American Academic Staff Council and the Black Faculty Council, together to form the African American Faculty & Staff Council.

• Recognized faculty and staff for accomplishments and acheivements

• Recognized retiring African American faculty & staff

• Organized an annual picnic in July, and an annual holiday gathering in December

• Held annual meetings with the Chancellor to discuss issues relating to black staff and faculty on campus

• Spearheaded and conducted the comprehensive survey on race and ethnicity at UWM. This effort was led by Larry Martin, Professor in the Administrative Leadership department.

We have met our initial goals and continue to seek new and better ways to assist each other on our journey at UWM.