May 13, 2019

Greetings Everyone:

I am sure many of us are busy getting ready for the most exciting week on our campus—Commencement. I have met with many students and their families during these past few weeks and shared many moments of joy leading up to Wednesday and Thursday’s ceremonies. The staff has been hard at work getting ready for the event and I know it will be a wonderful celebration of our students, faculty, and staff.  
I am writing to you today to clarify some points about the staff summer professional development that you received emails about at the end of last week. As I stated in a previous email, one of the themes that came out in my listening sessions was that many employees felt there was little room for advancement and additionally, the University was not investing in the development of our workforce. I also heard from some sectors of our University that a good deal of their time was spent correcting errors but there were no opportunities to meet with groups to provide training to begin to address the issues. Because I firmly believe in investing in people and their growth, I wanted to provide both personal and professional opportunities during the summer, during scheduled work hours, to address the issues articulated in listening sessions.  
Yes, there are mandatory sessions on diversity and inclusion that all staff must attend this summer. We all have work to do in this area. However, we wanted to provide opportunities for you to have a choice in your own professional development, whether you choose sessions that will develop your skills related to your current position or looking to move up should opportunities arise, or you wanted to take time to develop your personal life, like sessions in personal finance. All of these are part of our commitment to invest in you. It is my expectation that you will partake in sessions weekly, either in person or online. Scheduled vacation time will be excused, but I want to stress this is not free time. Attendance will be taken so please be where you are scheduled to be. As previously communicated, some critical offices will have to remain open for operational purposes.  
I hope this clarifies for the community the intent behind our time “off the hamster wheel” to work on our community needs while addressing our own professional and personal development. Think of it as WPYOU! 


Richard J. Helldobler, PhD