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Gearing Up and Winding Down

A Staff Assembly President’s forthcoming endeavor
By Ian Peltz, Student Writer/CHASS Marketing & Communications |

In February, CHASS welcomed Crystal Petrini as Department Manager to the departments of English and Philosophy. Petrini is responsible for all administrative and financial transactions, “and a little bit of everything else,” Petrini said.

Previously, Petrini was the financial analyst for Alianza UCMX, a system-wide institute that is headquartered at UC Riverside. It provides funding to doctoral fellows, postdocs, and faculty doing bi-national research and collaboration.

“I’d been there for a couple years and was ready to take the next step of my career,” Petrini said. “I really wanted to have a team of my own that I could shape and develop so that we could have a greater impact. That’s when this position came up in CHASS and it seemed to be that perfect next step.”

Petrini was already well-known in CHASS, prior to beginning her role as Department Manager.

“She has a beautiful personality which makes it easy to work together,” said Katrice Calloway, Petrini’s supervisor and the Budget & Operations Manager in the CHASS Dean’s Office.  “Even before she applied for a position in CHASS, I noticed her natural leadership qualities, strong compassion for staff, impeccable speaking ability, and her overall genuineness as a person.”

This strong compassion and genuineness was also evident during Petrini’s tenure as President of UCR’s Staff Assembly,  which supports and promotes staff welfare across campus.

“I feel very lucky for a lot of reasons,” said current Staff Assembly President Dennis McIver, “but I feel beyond lucky that I’ve had a chance to learn under her inspired leadership.”

Petrini was elected Staff Assembly President-Elect in April 2018 and was president during the 2019-2020 academic year. Petrini was also recently elected Chair-Elect of the Council of UC Staff Assemblies (CUCSA), the system-wide counsel for all UC staff assemblies. She is the first person from UCR to serve in this position since 2002.

Petrini’s mission on Staff Assembly is direct: “It’s about making our campus a place where the staff wants to be. Without staff, the university wouldn’t run.”

Part of giving back to the staff came in the form of UC’s employee travel benefit. Until recently, the travel benefit has not been permitted for personal use at UC Riverside, even though it was permissible at other UC’s.

“The travel benefit had been a topic of discussion on this campus for years,” said McIver, “and she made it a point to take the initiative and connect with UCOP to have them come and discuss this. It was an effort that had taken literal years and [she] had it wrapped up during her presidency.”

Petrini’s time as staff assembly president has well prepared her for the team she now leads.

“Being President of Staff Assembly required me to use several skills I hadn’t had to tap into in order to successfully oversee a large board of people and advocate with senior leadership,” Petrini said. “It gave me the chance to sharpen skills related to managing and interacting with people which includes having difficult conversations and mitigating any conflicts that may arise within the board.”

As Petrini transitions into the next chapter of her career, her approach to work is unwavering.

“After my presidency, I really look forward to creating more efficient processes within my department,” Petrini said. “Really digging into my current position and making it the best that it can be so that it works for not only the team, but also the faculty and students we serve.”