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The Least of These, Our Brethren

The current economy is causing considerable stress to many of our institutions, and hard decisions are needed. Last year, our university president sent out a notice that in order to maintain resources to attract top faculty hires, salaries for all support staff were to be frozen. A colleague in our fellowship sent a letter to the editor of a local paper that shared my concerns. As a rule, the support staff already make much less than the faculty, yet they do critical work that few faculty would even consider doing--how many Nobel laureates do you know who are willing to clean a dorm bathroom at the end of a rowdy weekend? They are called support staff for a reason-they support our work so that we can focus on what we've trained for and love doing. Making life harder for them risks cutting us off at the knees.

Jesus said, "whatsoever you've done for the least of these my brethren, you have done it also to me." (Matthew 25:40) We ignore our support staff at our peril, on many fronts. Get to know the staff who clean your offices/labs. When you see the bathrooms being cleaned, thank them. Take your admin assistant out to lunch or otherwise let them know you appreciate them. This, too, is ministry.

Coda: this year, the president announced a one time merit bonus that nearly all staff are eligible for. This is a move in the right direction. Good job.


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