In July, the Staff Senate Chair’s gavel was officially passed to Will Armstrong, a personnel analyst in the Hiram C. Polk Jr., MD, Department of Surgery at UofL’s Health Sciences Center. He has been at the University of Louisville since April 2002, starting as an administrative assistant in the University Honors Program.
He has also worked as a unit business manager intermediate in the VP for Business Affairs area, and in both the Executive VP for Health Affairs Office and Surgery.
Armstrong has undergraduate degrees in English and history from Bellarmine University. His graduate degree is in library science “from a certain school down the road,” in Lexington, where he claims to have been the only student wearing Cardinal red in class.
UofL News had the opportunity to get to know Armstrong a little better as he transitions into the two-year chairmanship role for the governance group.
UofL News: What is your job at UofL?
Armstrong: I usually get asked what my job title (personnel analyst) means, and the simple answer is that I ensure our faculty and staff are paid from the appropriate funding sources, grants or clinical trials.
UofL News: How long have you been a staff senator and what compelled you to take on such a role?
Armstrong: I’ve been a staff senator since 2007. For the first five years, I really was engrossed in my office and our role in helping high-achieving students. After that point, though, I wanted more, and the Senate seemed the best place to not only learn more about life outside of my office, but to connect in meaningful ways with my colleagues across campuses and disciplines.
UofL News: Why did you decide to take on a leadership role within the Senate?
Armstrong: My first foray into Senate leadership came following a chance phone call from (then) Vice Chair Dhiane Bradley. She encouraged me to put my name in for the running for our secretary/treasurer role. I’ve moved through that position into vice chair, and when the time came to consider running for chair, I took a deep breath and went for it. I am quiet, generally, but always listening and thinking. I know that I can use those skills, combined with my passion for advocacy, to make sure staff voices are heard. It’s a responsibility I approach with great sincerity.
UofL News: What are your goals as Senate chair?
Armstrong: I want to continue to pursue the Senate’s goals of transparency and advocacy, as our most recent past-chair, Angela Lewis-Klein, has. I also want to increase the ways in which we solicit feedback and input from our constituents. We’ve recently looked at increasing our maximum number of senators (to 99) so that we can ensure a smaller constituent base for each of them. My hope would be that senators would then be in the best position to foster stronger and more familiar connections with those they represent.
UofL News: What is your favorite thing about the University of Louisville?
Armstrong: I love the spirit here. I worked at UofL when my wife and I married and when my kids were born. Through ups and downs in my personal and professional lives, UofL has been a constant. I’ve benefited tremendously from my relationships with and mentorship by the many wonderful people employed here. And I love that I’ve created, with the help of understanding supervisors, a strong work-life balance.
UofL News: What are your non-work hobbies?
Armstrong: My wife, Kirsten, and I spent a lot of time laughing with our kids, Katy (7) and Rory (4). I’m very interested in genealogy, having researched my family tree since I was 12 years old. In the last couple of years, I’ve delved into learning about what DNA analyses can tell me about my very distant ancestors. It’s really fascinating. I’m also into video games, board games and marching band. You could say that I’m a lot of fun at parties.
UofL News: What is your favorite thing to do in Louisville outside of work?
Armstrong: The easy answer is eat! This city has everything for every palate. Right now, I’m particularly keen on Vietnam Kitchen’s pineapple curry. Otherwise, having married a Louisville native, we spend a lot of time with family.
UofL News: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Armstrong: I have two, really. As far as my work life goes, I remember something Melissa Long Shuter (former staff chair from 1999-2001 and current executive director of business operations) taught me: To always act from a place of information, from data, rather than let raw emotion guide otherwise impulsive reactions.
As far as my personal life goes, my father led by example: Never take yourself so seriously that you can’t laugh at yourself.