In the spring of 2019, Our Best Work Environment (OBWE) Strategic Plan Implementation Initiative 5.1A (previously named Reinforcing our Cultural Aspirations) held 19 Praxis workshops with 247 faculty and staff in attendance.  The Praxis workshops were led by Dr. Andrea Romero, Vice Provost of Faculty Affairs, Sara Knepper, Director of Academic Advising and Michelle Rascon- Cañales, PhD student in Anthropology.  The process was informed by the Effective Academic Governance report derived from the Harvard COACHE survey (Wellundemo & Mathews, 2015). The workshops sought to build consensus around action areas to create our best work environment.  Action steps were identified that could be implemented at the unit level as well as recommendations for leaders related to community involvement, communication, and ideas to break down silos and bring the university community together. 

In 2019-2020, the following action taskforces were created:

  1. UA Best Work Environment Internal Assessment Taskforce
    • The goal of this taskforce is to review existing surveys and to develop a new instrument to use on an annual basis to track UA’s best work environment. Faculty and staff are invited to participate.
  2. Annual Review and Pay Equity Best Practices Taskforce
    • The goal of this taskforce is to research current best practices for annual review and pay equity of faculty and provide recommendations to the Faculty Senate and Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs. Faculty are invited to participate. (Note: Human Resources is working on addressing staff pay equity best practices through UCAP.)
  3. Career Conversation Taskforce for Staff
    • The goal of this taskforce is to provide recommendations about how to ensure that all staff receive regular and high-quality performance evaluations. Faculty and staff are invited to participate.
  4. Motivation/Work Environment and Leadership Taskforce
    • The goal of this taskforce is to identify key areas to focus on in the next year to sustain and grow employee talent and motivation, opportunities for leadership development, and bringing our university community together. Faculty and staff are invited to participate.
  5. Fostering a Respectful Workplace Taskforce  
    • The goal of this taskforce is to identify best practices and reduce current unprofessional workplace conduct such as discrimination, sexual harassment, bullying, etc. Faculty and staff are invited to participate.


The task forces were making significant progress when suddenly in March 2020, COVID-19 emerged, and all was halted.  Funding for the taskforces was moved to support the UArizona budget constraints.  The OBWE taskforces were at a standstill.

In August 2020, Academic Leadership Institute (ALI) began virtually and one of the Co-Chairs from Fostering a Respectful Workplace Taskforce, Lydia Kennedy, Sr. Director, UAHS EDI wanted to continue the important work of creating a respectful and professional work environment where people enjoyed coming to work, the interactions and performed at their best.  In October 2020, Lydia spoke with Dr. Andrea Romero on continuing the OBWE work through her ALI project starting with a Spring 2021 Speaker Series including unit dialogues with tools and action steps to identify best practices and reduce unprofessional workplace conduct and microaggressions.  Sponsorships and collaborations evolved with the Office of the Provost, Office of the Provost-Faculty Affairs, Human Resources, Student Success and Retention Innovation, Human Resources, Diversity and Inclusion-Main Campus and University of Arizona Health Sciences Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

We invite you to participate in creating Our Best Work Environment.

For more information, please read the Executive Summary.