Last year, University of Wisconsin–Madison employees sharpened their skills with noncredit courses at Continuing Studies, thanks to the Professional Development Scholarship program. Funded by UW–Madison’s Office of the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, the scholarships allowed employees to take courses like Workplace Negotiation Skills and Communication Skills for Challenging Conversations at no cost. The program was so successful that Finance and Administration is funding a second round.
The courses are open to both academic staff and university staff from spring through fall. UW–Madison university staff can learn more on this webpage, and academic staff can learn more on this one. They can also expect emails with more information from the secretary of the Academic Staff Office and the secretary of the University Staff Office, who have partnered with Continuing Studies on the project. Applications open Feb. 12 for academic staff and Feb. 14 for university staff.
Laurent Heller, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, says the scholarship program is an important priority that arose from the 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.
“We are constantly looking for new ways to meet the professional development needs of UW–Madison employees,” says Interim Chief Human Resources Office Mark Walters. “For example, new workshops we’ve recently introduced focus on building ‘emotional intelligence’ and learning how to work better with others by understanding and adapting to individual differences. These workshops, along with our annual professional development conferences, provide the knowledge and resources that enable employees at all levels to contribute to an inclusive, engaging work environment.”
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.
Embracing new perspectives
In the first round of scholarships, UW–Madison employee Bridgett Molinar took Communication Skills for Challenging Conversations, which focuses on interpersonal relationships in the workplace. The skills she developed benefitted 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.”
To learn more, contact Continuing Studies at email@example.com, 608-262-1156; Adult Career and Special Student Services at firstname.lastname@example.org, 608-263-6960; and Learning and Talent Development at email@example.com, 608-262-7107. You can also browse the course listings on the Continuing Studies website.