Our Skills - Professional Development
Some members of the Division of Student Affairs have felt a sense of empowerment from the commitment to professional development that has been exhibited since the implementation of the Campus Compact. Several people commented on the enthusiasm for work these opportunities have given them.
"My experience in hierarchical situations is that people feel constrained to wait for permission in order to step out of their 'station.' To do so could be met with stern disapproval. Now, (after being a part of Student Affairs) if I am intensely interested in something and I see that it is of value to the community, I know can move that forward as long as I am willing to put the time and effort into it. I don't need to wait for someone to assign it to me or hold back because of a person who is stuck in elitism wants to box me in. An example of that would be where a group of us dedicated time and effort to working toward improving the OSU community awareness around areas of diversity. It became a Campus Compact Initiative and this group of people who bore no official functional title or degrees in relation to "diversity" worked together to create some of the most compelling and well attended campus conversations, dialogs on race, workshops, conferences and a summit. We did the President's (Clinton) week of dialog on race; hosting conversations around poignant topics of race relations. We brought Peggy McIntosh to campus to work with us on White Privilege, we not only arranged campus workshops and panels for students, staff and faculty, but set up private consultations with specific groups such as the (OSU) Presidents cabinet, Student Affairs department heads and City of Corvallis Administrative personnel. We created and hosted the OSU Diversity Summit as well as a week long symposium celebrating cultural arts called MOSAIC. We invited NCBI, (the National Coalition Building Institute) to train a cadre of staff to be facilitators of prejudice reduction workshops. To date we have had over 2500 participants from the campus and surrounding communities in our workshops. We have also added two complimentary facilitations models; Controversial Issues, and The Leadership Clinic. We didn't wait around for someone to give us permission, we saw the need and had the desire to do something about it and did it."
"Our director is very adamant about people seeking out opportunities for growth and for furthering their education and career development. It has been very proactive since I got here and that hasn't changed. What has changed is what we are using now as a part of that growth... People are now participating in activities that may not have been the most obvious for career development."
New and different means of career development have been offered, but there were a significant amount of concerns that were mentioned. The extent to which the commitment to professional development made by the Campus Compact has been pursued appears to be influenced by job classification. Several people commented on the lack of opportunities for development in their departments and the conflict of expectations from different types of managers.
"One thing we need to be sensitive to is the expectations of classified staff. I hear a lot of people say '... Classified staff are supposed to make copies or they are administrative support and that's all they should do.' I think we need to make more room for people to do things that really reward them. ... I would also like to see more directors and higher level administrators making their own copies. Sharing the burden of the tedium rather just putting all on one person. By not bogging people down you can give them room to think larger and aspire to be more."
"People that are in union bargained classified positions are still not given enough space and room to grow in a lot of places. By that I mean release time given for professional development or (they are constrained by) a really narrow definition of professional development. It is an issue of caring... sometimes I feel that we aren't doing the best we can at creating opportunities and getting supervisors to recognize that there needs to be an expectation that all people can participate."
"It's difficult to get everyone to believe that they have the same right as everybody else to seek their professional development opportunities and to ask for that. It's also hard to get all supervisors to let their staff know that is expected of them, offered and available to them. We need to continue talking about the issue with people at all levels."
"The comprehensive Professional Development initiative needs some attention. Different professions need different levels of continuing education. Continuing Education, which is required in my professions costs several thousand dollars, a good portion of which is coming out of my own pocket right now. I'm not saying it's anyone's fault I just wish that we could address the issue. I'm sure some other departments are having problems with the issue as well. That's kind of a glitch in the system right now."