Continuing Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison offers lifelong learning opportunities for the whole community—and that includes the university community. Nearly 100 UW–Madison employees recently registered for noncredit courses at no charge through the Professional Development Scholarship program, funded by the office of the vice chancellor for Finance and Administration. They include courses in team leadership, workplace negotiation skills, and two dozen others directly relevant to their jobs.
Bridgett Molinar used her scholarship to take Communication Skills for Challenging Conversations, which focuses on interpersonal relationships in the workplace. The skills she developed will benefit her work as an accountant in the School of Medicine and Public Health.
“I learned how to have difficult conversations without getting too emotionally involved,” Molinar says. “The course taught me how to see things from a colleague’s point of view and to embrace new perspectives. I know it will contribute to the efficiency of my team at UW–Madison.”
Laurent Heller, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, said the scholarship program was an important priority that arose from the Vice Chancellor’s Engagement, Inclusion and Diversity initiative.
“In conversations with staff at all levels of the campus community, I have heard that professional development is key to employees’ success and engagement in the workplace,” Heller says. “We’re committed to investing in this program and other opportunities that position the university to attract and retain a talented and diverse workforce.”
Greater job satisfaction
The scholarship is part of a joint initiative by Continuing Studies and the Office of Human Resources focused on professional development for UW–Madison employees.
The initiative includes resources for career counseling through Adult Career and Special Student Services (ACSSS). This free service helps employees clarify short- and long-term goals, identify learning opportunities, and explore job possibilities within UW–Madison or elsewhere.
“We are one of the few universities in the country offering this kind of opportunity for employees,” says ACSSS career counselor Elizabeth Schrimpf. “It provides university employees the tools they need to manage their careers, develop their skills, and enjoy greater job satisfaction.”
The initiative also includes resources for Learning and Talent Development in the Office of Human Resources to increase support for UW–Madison supervisors and to expand access to free or low-cost learning options.
“The demand for professional development from UW–Madison employees has historically exceeded our capacity, resulting in waiting lists for our courses and workshops,” explains Wayne Guthrie, associate vice chancellor for human resources. “The partnership with Continuing Studies, along with additional staffing in Learning and Talent Development, has enabled us to offer more courses and conferences and serve many more participants. We’re also expanding our offerings to support a broader definition of professional development, so that supervisors can engage employees at all levels in learning and career growth.”
Jeffrey S. Russell, dean of Continuing Studies and vice provost for Lifelong Learning, is confident that UW–Madison can help its workforce more effectively meet their professional goals.
“A commitment to professional development opportunities is critical for a leading research university,” Russell says.
To learn more, contact the Division of Continuing Studies at firstname.lastname@example.org, 608-262-1156; Adult Career and Special Student Services at email@example.com, 608-263-6960; and Learning and Talent Development at firstname.lastname@example.org, 608-262-7107.