Professional development is an often overshadowed, yet integral, piece of the administrative faculty work experience on campus.
On Tuesday during the lunch hour in the Glick Ballroom of the Joe Crowley Student Union, close to 100 people gathered for the Administrative Faculty Personnel Policies and Procedures (AFPPP) Committee's "brown bag" event, which focused on the theme of "Professional Development for Administrative Faculty."
The event, which was held with the understanding that individuals in the audience were free to express themselves and would not be identified by name in meeting minutes, was moderated by Faculty Senate Chair Fred Harris, and included President Marc Johnson, Provost Kevin Carman and a presentation from Tim McFarling, associate vice president for Human Resources.
Harris solicited ideas and perspectives which in one form or another helped answer a question he at one point posed to those gathered: "What would help you do your job better?"
Development of a University-wide clearinghouse where individuals from self-funded units or areas with small operating funds could apply for funding for professional development;
Increased syncing of University systems, which would include communication on how to better leverage workflow technology for improved collaboration between colleges, departments, programs and units;
Re-evaluation of the current orientation process of new administrative faculty hires, to better integrate those individuals into the work life of the campus;
Compilation and dissemination of all the resources available to administrative faculty for professional development (Tuesday's event included useful handouts with a number of such resources listed);
More administrative faculty mentorship and the possible development of a formal mentorship program.
Harris noted that the campus has undergone such dramatic growth and change over the past few years that it was important for all to consider new ways of thinking about old processes. He smiled when an audience member had mentioned what sounded like a brief orientation process from a few years earlier.
"When you think about how much this campus has changed in the last three years alone, you'd almost want another orientation now, in order to keep up with the changes that have occurred," he said.
Johnson said the University must continue to emphasize to its managers that professional development for administrative faculty is a vital piece of the University's success. He said the University needed to "train each level of management" to encourage all of the facets of a comprehensive and effective professional development approach.
McFarling, during his presentation, listed a number of tools and ideas to help academic faculty attain professional development on campus. They included grants-in-aid, committee, task force and volunteer work, joining professional associations, or becoming part of the University's leadership development program (of which there are already 70 participants), attending seminars and conferences, and "finding something that is broken and finding a way to fix it."
"These are opportunities where you step outside your natural job to learn, develop and discover something new," he said.
During the final few minutes of the gathering, Carman spoke about the key role administrative faculty play for the campus. He said that just as important as programs, opportunities and ideas for professional development were, it was equally important for administrative faculty to find the proper campus mechanism to have their voice heard.
"What is important to you is critically important to us," he said.
Tuesday's event was part of an ongoing effort by the AFPPP Committee, among several campus charges, to provide administrative faculty with an opportunity to come together and discuss key issues of the day, particularly in the areas of development and retention of employees.