Professional, personal development courses free for faculty, staff

University partners with Academic Impressions; informational session Oct. 6

knowledge center exterior

Professional, personal development courses free for faculty, staff

University partners with Academic Impressions; informational session Oct. 6

knowledge center exterior

Hundreds of free seminars, workshops and trainings are available to University staff and faculty through a new partnership with Academic Impressions, an organization specializing in professional development resources for higher education. This partnership provides every University employee with membership access to online training resources for personal and professional growth.

"We believe that access to robust professional development will not only build the capacity of our campus community and help us overcome the inevitable challenges we all face in our daily work, but it will allow us to better serve our students and further the mission of our university," Jeff Thompson, University Provost, said in an email announcing the program to faculty and staff.. "Investing in our employees to grow in their career and personal well-being is vital to the success of our campus and our students."

With an email account, staff and faculty have immediate access to the vast resource base specifically designed for higher education professionals. This will help them to build upon their knowledge and expertise to reach new levels and find practical solutions to the challenges they are facing.

"Training and professional development were high on the list when developing the University's five-year strategic plan," Kim Beers, Associate Vice President, Human Resources, said. "Our department chairs and supervisors voiced a strong desire for the tools that will help them create an environment that attracts and retains the best employees. We’re pleased to partner with the Provost’s Office to bring forward this resource to support our shared goals.”

Informational Session

An informational session for faculty and staff will be held via Zoom on Friday, Oct. 6 with a representative from Academic Impressions.

With Beers, Tim McFarling, AVP, HR Emeritus, is working on this partnership as a special project. He has taken a few of the courses to study how they work. Human Resources isn't wasting any time in getting the program rolling.

"As an example, the Supervision Certification course is a four-session class comprised of live and recorded 60- to 90-minute trainings," he said. "Colleges and departments can use these course materials for their specific needs – the School of Public Health management has used materials for internal leadership training. They did a pilot project with us the first week of classes. Dean Muge Akpinar-Elci polled her leadership to see what needs they had, and we tailored a program for them using existing materials in Academic Impressions."

The School of Public Health chairs selected two leadership topics for the Fall and two for the Spring semesters. A department chair facilitates the discussion of the Academic Impressions content selected by the peers.

"I am incredibly impressed with the impact of the professional development program," Akpinar-Elci said. "This program has not only provided our faculty and staff with valuable leadership skills but has also allowed us to tailor the content to our specific needs and enhanced our leadership development efforts. The ability to choose topics and facilitate discussions has made this program a true asset for our school of public health.”

Individual trainings or group sessions

The program can be used for individuals or in a group setting such as with the School of Public Health.

"We will use the Academic Impression resources for stand-alone learning for faculty and staff," McFarling said. "We will also utilize Academic Impressions content as part of group learning opportunities.”

For one of those group learning opportunities, Human Resources is partnering with the Committee on the Status of Women, part of the Diversity and Inclusion Office in the President's Office, to use content from the Academic Impressions two-day virtual conference entitled "Women's Leadership Success in Higher Education” on Oct. 19-20. This conference is available to all faculty and staff. The entire program or any of the individual sessions may be attended, as users may choose. It will be followed by a hybrid on-campus/virtual discussion meeting facilitated by the Committee on the Status of Women.

The Human Resources Department will help leaders to sustain and continue their development and to apply the principles gleaned from the course content provided by Academic Impressions.

"We will help continue the development, it's not a one and done training," McFarling said. "It's not like here's the material and then people are left on their own – for the group trainings we will have meetings and discussion groups around the content. It helps to have continued development."

This is also evidenced in the Academic Leadership Excellence program for department chairs that will be launched Oct. 13.

Beers and McFarling, working with the Provost's office, will use Academic Impressions to augment the Academic Leadership in Excellence program that is being implemented as part of the strategic plan. It will include three in-person sessions using online material and targets academic leaders such as department chair and associate dean positions.

“Input from campus leaders on their day-to-day challenges is helping us accelerate the user experience by highlighting the most relevant content from Academic Impressions to meet these challenges," Beers said. "This approach will target specific leadership competencies that will translate to success on our strategic goals.”

Individual units can contact HR to find applicable material for their unit, and they will help coordinate offerings so they don't have to do it all on their own. The Human Resources team is working directly with Academic Impressions to facilitate individual faculty and staff interactions with the program.

“Whether it’s a department, college or committee-driven effort, HR can work with groups of faculty and staff to identify their development targets and match up Academic Impressions and other resources to feed their interest," Beers said.

Variety of Topics Offered

Topic areas include academic leadership; diversity, equity and inclusion; student success; personal leadership and supervision; and faculty success. All available to staff and faculty through access to the on-demand webcasts, self-paced courses and live or virtual conferences that are designed to be practical, discussion-based and highly experiential. There is also a library with insights, articles and other resource materials, including reports, books and assessments.

"There's career advancement, grant writing, goal setting, how to have hard conversations, a variety of topics," Jessica Stepaniak, Lead, Organizational and Employee Development in the Human Resources Department, said. "The sessions are online and self-paced with the free membership, and there's also some paid content, like webinars employees can choose to do on their own, or even attending in-person sessions – but they'd have to pay for travel."

Questions or ideas about how to leverage the University’s Academic Impressions' membership or resources available to faculty and staff may reach out to Stepaniak. Like McFarling, she has sampled courses on the program.

"It was very easy to access the resource using the University's Single Sign On, and the courses were easy to follow and had a great approach with a mix of live online trainings, videos and PowerPoints," she said. "I've done a bunch of the courses; they are easy to follow and there's so much to choose from. After creating your free account, click on start learning, search for a specific topic then you get express register and you'll see the amount crossed out, and see a zero for balance due. It's great "

For all the programs, users may choose from hundreds of hours of online training, both live and on-demand (with new resources added weekly) from subject matter experts who have hands-on experience in higher education to design the program.

"This gives the opportunity for any faculty and staff to have access to a variety of materials for personal and professional development," McFarling said. "The materials and content can be used within the units, and individually people can choose from what inspires them."

Human Resources and Academic Impressions will be conducting an informational session about the learning opportunities available to faculty and staff on Friday, Oct. 6 at 10:00 a.m. via Zoom. The Academic Impressions account manager, Breanne Holloway, will be joining the session virtually to explain resources available, and to consider ways that faculty and staff might best take advantage of the membership and resources.

Faculty and staff may visit the Academic Impressions webpage on the University website for additional information and to get started on professional development and personal growth that will help with continued growth in their positions and to prepare them for future opportunities.

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