"Take 5" with Staff Senate President, Amber Salvadras

April 5, 2022

BATON ROUGE, LA - Amber Salvadras, Staff Senate President, answers 5 questions about her role, her passion projects, and her favorite LSU traditions. Amber signing the Huey P. Long beam

What is your day job with LSU?

Technically, my official Civil Service title is Administrative Program Specialist. When people ask me, I usually say “Business Manager” since it makes more sense to me. I have been with the same department and college for almost 17 years. I do all things financially related, and travel related. Most of my job revolves around supporting faculty in the School of Education. You can also call me a ‘doer of all things’ in the department. If I do not know how to do something or do not have an answer, I will seek to find the answer or figure it out. I am always happy to help!

What is your favorite part of serving as Staff Senate President?

The Staff Senate President wears a whole lot of hats. My main purpose is to be the voice for all staff members on campus. I must advocate for staff, show appreciation, and help with awareness. My motto is “If it is important to you, then it is important to me”. Advocating for staff can involve many things, for example: staff benefits, free tuition for staff to pursue a degree, and professional development opportunities for all staff. Creating a process for employees to apply for funding to go toward various opportunities to grow professionally through the Faculty and Staff Career Excellence Enrichment Award that was created several years ago has become a passion project of mine this year. It has been a work in progress, but it will come to fruition soon!

As Staff Senate President, I also have the honor of serving on the search committee for the next Executive Vice President & Provost of the university. I have also had the pleasure of attending President Tate’s Values and Visions retreat last month. Most recently, I have been invited by President Tate to serve on the Flagship Integration Committee for the new Strategic Plan of LSU. It is quite a commitment, but it will be an incredible learning experience.

Another important aspect of serving as President of Staff Senate is appreciation. We host events throughout the year and work hard to show staff they truly are appreciated.  
My favorite thing about serving in this role? Easily, I have to say it is the all-access parking!  But really, I must say it is the relationships and friendships I have built with folks across campus along with the learning experience it has given me. This opportunity has given me so much knowledge about how things work within the university. Two years ago, I did not know much about upper administration, who they are, or what they do. Now, I have had the opportunity to have many one-on-one conversations with each of them and they know me by name. I feel comfortable reaching out to any of them if I ever have questions or issues. I am seen and heard. Staff Senate is seen and heard. I am so proud to be a voice for staff on campus.

Recently, you were involved in a flag ceremony honoring LSU employees who passed away. Tell us more about this tradition.

This one hit me harder than I thought it would. I feel like since I am grieving the loss of both of my parents so recently, it affected me even more. I genuinely believe if something bothers you, it's your job to try and fix it. I learned that from a former Staff Senate President.

LSU Policy Statement 63 is Regarding Death of a Student or Employee. The purpose of the policy is to establish a procedure following the death of a student or an employee to complete necessary administrative processes, ensure appropriate communication regarding the death, memorialize the individual, and provide appropriate support to members of the LSU community. In 2019, the policy was amended to add this portion: In cases of employees with 10 or more years of service at LSU (including service at any LSU campus across the state), an LSU flag will be flown in honor of the deceased employee (See Policy Statement 66). The department representative coordinates timing with the family and University departments (i.e. LSUPD and LSU Facility Services). The flag will typically be flown for 24 hours. The flag will then be folded and placed in an engraved case with the name and date it was flown in the employee's honor. Costs for the flag and case will be paid for by the Office of the President.

As of June 2021, only one flag was flown and presented to the family of a staff member who had passed away. That staff member was employed with LSU for 25+ years. Since then, there have been several employees, both faculty and staff who have passed away while employed with LSU with 10 or more years of service and no flags were flown. This infuriated me. It bothered me so much that I decided to speak up until something was done. The process does not outline exactly who oversees the flag flying and who is to present to the families of the deceased and how to present it.  This year, the process is currently being streamlined so that this does not fall through the cracks again.

In August 2021, LSU lost two staff members: Mr. James Hebert and Mr. Milton Johnson. They both worked for Facility Services and coincidentally had 22 years of service. I made many phone calls and sent many emails until these flags were finally purchased and flown. I worked with Will Speyrer and Robert Benton to coordinate getting the flags flown, boxed, and engraved. The special touch was that the carpenters in Facility Services hand built the flag boxes. They were beautiful! I had the honor of contacting the families of each of them and coordinated having them come to a Staff Senate meeting to present the flag to them formally.  In addition to the family attending, I invited the colleagues of each staff member to come and show their support. It was touching to see how many came to support. The families were so grateful, and it made them feel like LSU genuinely cares. We have one more that needs to be handled for Mr. Bill Gibson who passed away in 2021 and had 30+ years here.

What is your favorite part about working at LSU?

The people. I have made so many friendships in my 16 years here and I am forever grateful for them. These folks are not just friends - they are family.

Favorite LSU tradition, place on campus, and restaurant in Baton Rouge?

I would have to say my favorite tradition is when they play Garth Brooks’  “Callin’ Baton Rouge” at athletic events. It brings out so much excitement and everyone sings! My favorite place on campus has got to be the Gold Grandstand Seats of Alex Box Stadium. And my favorite restaurant in Baton Rouge is Olive Garden! Yeah! I said it! I'm basic, so give me all the bread sticks! If we are talking about places around campus, you can find me at Torchy’s or Chimes the most.

Photo of Johnson family receiving honorary flag from Amber Image of Staff Senate Executive Board