New UHV Staff Council chair works to ensure open communication

As the new chair, Magen Besancon takes seriously the University of Houston-Victoria Staff Council’s mission to provide staff members with a collective voice in university matters affecting their activities and welfare.

Magen Besancon

Besancon wants to make sure staff members know the council is an open venue for expressing ideas or addressing issues pertaining to their jobs.

“I always encourage staff to attend every meeting we have,” Besancon said. “It is our forum to have our voices heard.”

Besancon, senior student recruitment coordinator in the UHV School of Arts & Sciences, will serve as 2015-2016 council chair. In this position, she also will represent the university’s staff on the UHV President’s Cabinet.

Besancon said she’s looking forward to staying involved in staff happenings and continuing to ensure the lines of communication are open between staff members and UHV administration.

Another objective for the upcoming year is additional promotion for Jags Brags, a program started by the Staff Council in 2014 to give recognition to staff members who have gone above and beyond in their jobs. UHV faculty, staff and students can brag about a staff member by filling out a form at

“It’s always nice for a staff member to hear someone is happy with his work,” Besancon said. “It’s not just staff complimenting other staff. The recognition is coming from faculty and even students. The positive feedback is tremendous to hear.”

Veronica Crabb

Besancon will take over for Veronica Crabb, who will stay on the Staff Council Executive Committee as past chair.

“Veronica did a great job as chair and was easy to work with,” Besancon said. “She has great knowledge about what is going on with UHV, so she could provide some of the reasoning behind decisions that were made. I’m glad she’ll still be helping out on the executive committee. We’ll look to her for guidance.”

Crabb said she enjoyed interacting with staff and working toward common goals during her year as council chair. She’s confident Besancon will do an excellent job.

“Magen is level-headed, knowledgeable and devoted to the betterment of the university,” Crabb said. “She’ll be a tremendous leader.”

During the past few years, Besancon had a hand in a large number of projects and initiatives in the School of Arts & Sciences, including helping coordinate visits to China, working on dual-credit agreements and compiling assessment work for UHV’s re-accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Besancon was selected as the 2014 UHV Employee of the Year.

One continuing Staff Council project is a study of staff compensation policies. Besancon is retooling the Compensation Committee for the coming year. The committee will review current compensation policies to make sure they are being implemented as designed, she said.

She will be asking for additional volunteers to serve on the committee, including staff from exempt and non-exempt positions and those working in Sugar Land and Katy. The goal will be for the committee to put together a report by the end of the school year.

Serving with Besancon and Crabb on the 2015-2016 Staff Council are:

  • Vice Chair – Amy Hatmaker, Career Services manager
  • Secretary – Kira Mudd, Career Services coordinator
  • At-Large Exempt Staff Member – Cherlyn Hodge, School of Arts & Sciences advising coordinator
  • At-Large Non-Exempt Staff Member – Samantha Perez, Student Recruitment recruitment assistant
  • At-Large Representative Sugar Land – Keikei Wilson, UHV School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development instructional technology specialist in the
  • At-Large Representative Katy – Helen Johnson, UHV School of Business Administration student advising coordinator
  • University of System Staff Executive Council At-Large Member – Eric Camarillo, Student Success Center testing and tutoring manager

Staff Council meetings typically are the second Thursday of each month. Rooms are specified in an email sent out a few days before each meeting. The first Staff Council meeting of the new school year will be Sept. 10.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Jeremy Shapiro