Delivering Quality Professional Development on a Shoestring Budget: To Develop Your Employees, Tap a University's Greatest Resource: Expertise

By Snyder, Kathy | University Business, August 2017 | Go to article overview

Delivering Quality Professional Development on a Shoestring Budget: To Develop Your Employees, Tap a University's Greatest Resource: Expertise


Snyder, Kathy, University Business


Like most universities--particularly in rural areas--western Maryland's Frostburg State University has learned to do more with less. Shrinking state support left fewer resources for professional development. Traditional options such as national conferences, seminars and outside consultants quickly became too costly.

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We understood that we risked compromising quality, but how could an institution on a shoestring budget deliver meaningful professional development? How could we bridge that divide?

Identifying campus allies

Fortunately, Jeffrey McClellan, an associate professor in Frostburg's Department of Management, had the same concerns. Together, we identified one resource for professional development that comprehensive universities already have in abundance: knowledgeable, experienced faculty and staff.

In fall 2014, backed by these talented faculty and staff volunteers, we launched Frostburg's Employee Development & Leadership Series (EDLS). Our goal was to identify potential campus leaders and use Frostburg's existing expertise to prepare employees for greater responsibilities and challenges.

The budget for the leadership series has never exceeded $3,000 per year, but its value is much greater. Eight staff and two faculty members constituted our initial cohort. Successive cohorts have grown to 12 members, with more applicants each year.

Monthly sessions feature presentations by on-campus experts and panel discussions with specific campus units. Each session aligns with predetermined goals and outcomes:

* Enhance knowledge, skills and competencies in leadership while developing the ability to manage change.

* Improve supervisory skills, methods and practices.

* Increase awareness of supervisory style and the ability to adapt to different styles of behavior.

* Raise awareness of conflict styles and approaches to conflict resolution.

* Build fundamental understanding of labor laws and relevant regulations. …

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