Faculty Spotlight ~ Richard Santos
Santos honored with first Work+Life Supervisor Award
By Laurie Mellas Ramirez
|Richard Santos' family were surprise guests at the ceremony. Photo by Dena Wood.
Supportive, sensitive, strong, proactive and cooperative – this is how nominating faculty, staff and students describe the recipient of the first UNM Work+Life Manager/Supervisor Award.
UNM Associate Professor of Economics Richard Santos, Ph.D., acting associate dean for the College of Arts and Sciences and former chair of the Economics Department, accepted the honor at a standing room only ceremony in the SUB ballroom in October, National Work and Family Month.
A call for nominations resulted in a list of 71 stellar faculty and staff. Each was awarded a certificate of appreciation at the ceremony.
“Human resources are vital to an organization’s success. When organizations take certain actions to help employees foster a healthy work-life balance, it makes good economic sense,” said Santos, accepting a plaque and $1,000 award from Associate Vice President for Human Resources Susan Carkeek. The Staff Council Work+Life Committee and Human Resources sponsor the award.
Santos has promoted UNM’s work+life programs for more than a decade, he said, noting the benefits to both he and his colleagues.
“I have diabetes. Taking part in the Employee Health Promotion Program for 12 years has kept me off medication,” he said, adding that nutrition and fitness classes help create a campus social fabric and reduce stress, high blood pressure, carpal tunnel and obesity.
Flex schedules “help employees be more productive,” said Santos, who earned his master’s in labor and industrial relations. And promoting use of tuition remission is an investment in employee education resulting in dividends for UNM.
Santos plans to use a portion of the work+life award money to purchase a refrigerator for the Economics Department. “Many of us have as many as two meals a day here on campus. It’s important that we help people stay within their food budget and maintain good nutrition,” he said. “Meals are also social events. It’s where we do our thought processing and it’s where community connections are made.”
Divisions between work and life
no longer exist for many employees,
While some prefer the traditional
8-5, others work best with schedules that incorporate longer lunches, early morning or evening hours.
Attendance drops when Albuquerque public schools are closed and UNM needs to better accommodate student parents, said Santos, who is instrumental in the new PROFOUND (Program of Research Opportunities for Undergraduates) program.
“Many faculty and staff are faced with caring for older family members as well. We can actually be more productive by having family friendly rules,” he said.
Being present does not always mean being productive, he suggests. Problems at home or at work can cause a worker to operate at less than his or her potential.
“Showing up at 8 a.m. doesn’t mean your job is done for the day,” Santos said. “The old model of working to the clock doesn’t apply to today’s service organization. That model is outdated and if you work to that model the university is going to be shortchanged.”
Employment at UNM is not simply a job, but a career with room for advancement, he said. “Promoting work+life practices makes people more committed to UNM. We couldn’t pay these benefits in cash, and it’s not only money people are looking for anyway – they want balance,” Santos said.
Students, staff and faculty say they have blossomed under Santos’ leadership philosophy.
“Richard consistently acknowledged the contributions I made to the department and never made me feel as though I had to choose between the people who needed me at home, the students who needed me in the classroom and my research. It is possible to do all of those things if you have some flexibility and Richard granted me that,” a nominee wrote.
“[Richard’s] kind ways and candid openness made a huge difference in the way our department functioned,” wrote another.
“We recognize his consistent efforts to provide flextime,” a nominee wrote. “He allowed me not only to travel [to help with a sick child] but also taught my class,” a teaching assistant wrote. “I don’t exaggerate if I tell you that Prof. Santos was the difference between getting my Ph.D.
Ever the economist, Santos remains pragmatic about his approach.
“Good management practices and human resources skills pay off – that is what this award is about, acknowledging these activities,” Santos said, adding “ I truly believe the award is in recognition of efforts made by my colleagues – faculty, staff and students –to promote work life issues during my tenure as department chair. We truly came together to support each other. Without group support at the workplace, it is difficult to make gains in these critical areas.”
Laurie Mellas Ramirez is co-chair of the Staff Council Work+Life Committee. For more information, visit http://www.unm.edu/~stafcom/ or call 277-1532.
Complete list of nominees.