Employees flock to educational benefits fair
Photos by Michael Bailey
|Ten members of the police department surprised Chief Paul Norris when they presented him with the Educational Mentor and Manager Award.
By Katherine Ward
Emily Bardeen, director of the Division of Faculty and Staff Career Services in Human Resources, stood in front of the standing room-only crowd at Newcomb Hall on March 8 wide-eyed and a bit overwhelmed. “We are so glad to see all of you on this rainy day — I’m astonished at the turnout,” she told the group.
|Emily Bardeen, director of Faculty and Staff Career Services, planned the event with the help of Tom Gausvik, chief human resource officer.
The heavy rain did not deter a full house at the Educational Benefits Conference and Resource Fair, which was bustling by 8 a.m. Bardeen welcomed the crowd and joked about the tight space, assuring everyone that this would be the most crowded room of all the morning’s events. U.Va. employees sat elbow-to-elbow with their colleagues to learn about the educational benefits that are available for the taking, pending supervisory approval. According to Bardeen, 1,386 employees have taken advantage of U.Va.’s educational benefits during the past two calendar years, a University investment value of more than $1.3 million.
Bardeen introduced the conference guest speaker, Sondra F. Stallard, dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies. Stallard spoke of the vast opportunities that employees have in regard to education, and engaged the crowd with examples of how realistic these opportunities are.
“Today there are more adult students enrolled in higher education than there are traditional undergraduates,” Stallard said. “Only 25 percent of people over the age of 25 have their bachelor’s degrees — but that’s changing.” Stallard went on to say what the school has to offer, and the strides it has made in its five-year existence.
| Employees turned out in droves for the various exhibits and breakout sessions about educational opportunities.
“It’s our responsibility as an institution” to have more partnerships with various establishments to promote adult learning, including providing for flexible schedules, child care, fast-track programs and more, she said.
After Stallard’s talk, Bardeen presented the first Educational Mentor and Manager Awards. “We received more than 57 nominations,” she said of the award, designed to honor managers who have been influential and supportive in their employees’ education.
“It was hard,” but four winners were chosen from the nominations, said Bardeen, who read excerpts from the nomination letters before announcing each winner. The employee who submitted the letter of nomination presented the certificate to his or her award-winning manager.
The winners were as follows:
- Sheri States, director of Conference Services, Housing Division;
- Jan Allaire, director of the Kluge Children’s Rehabilitation Center;
- Deb Baker, patient care services manager of the Nerancy Neuro Intensive Care Unit at the hospital; and,
- Paul Norris, chief of police.
Ten of the 16 members of the University Police Department who signed Norris’ nomination letter, some of whom were in full uniform, presented his certificate. Norris appeared shocked as his staff rose from various places in the audience, eager to show their respect for their manager.
“Since becoming Chief of Police at the University of Virginia in 2001, training and education have been a top priority” for Norris, the letter read. “Chief Norris is clearly a proponent of further education, whether professional development or degree seeking.”
Almost as if it were planned, immediately following the award presentation, the police staff had to file out due to a previously scheduled training session that Norris had set for 9:30 a.m.
When asked what receiving the award meant to her, Allaire motioned to the two women who nominated her and said, “It means that somewhere, in all the leadership and guidance, you’re doing something right. I have had the pleasure of watching [my employees] grow intellectually, through their leadership and communication abilities, and their overall effectiveness as an employee through their education.”
The award ceremony concluded the opening session of the event, after which employees visited exhibits and attended breakout sessions on various subjects, including professional development, undergraduate and graduate studies, vocational studies and distance learning.
Bardeen’s Faculty and Staff Career Services was created in 2001 as a Division of University Human Resources, in partial response to the state’s compensation reform initiative, and as part of the University’s commitment to faculty and staff career development and forward planning as U.Va.’s workforce ages. The division provides individual appointments, periodic events and regularly schedules workshops on career- and education-related topics. During the past three years, it has served more than 1,860 clients through individual appointments and held more than 130 workshops.
“Most employees aren’t even aware of the availability of these resources at the University,” said Tom Gausvik, chief human resource officer. “Today’s resource fair is an effort to bring visibility to all there is.” Gausvik attributed Bardeen with the manager award idea, applauding her efforts to recognize the importance of manager support.
“One thing we run up against is many classified employees asking us, ‘How can I get a promotion?’” Gausvik said. “Many of these employees don’t have degrees, and can make themselves more competitive by increasing their education, and, by bringing this to their attention, many employees can find out how their employer can help them.”
Allaire said she always tells her employees, “no one can take away the things they learn.”