|May 7, 1999||Volume 6, Number 16|
ORGANIZATION & EMPLOYEE DEVELOPMENTEditor's note: The following is the second in a series of three pieces by O&ED staff.
Saskatchewan Universities: committed to collaboration and lifelong learning
In the spring of 1997, Organization & Employee Development (O&ED), Human Resources Division, submitted a proposal to the provincial government that would dramatically change the pace of learning and development activities at the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Regina.
The proposal asked the provincial government for one-time "revitalization" funds so that the two Universities might partner on projects that provided a range of learning opportunities for all their employees.
It was accepted, and throughout the fall of 1997 teams from both Universities began meeting around the conference table at the town hall in Davidson, midway between Saskatoon and Regina.
There, they crafted the partnership's strategic plan and objectives emerged - such as providing learning opportunities for all groups of University employees and establishing employee career development initiatives.
In March of 1998, the Learning and Employee Development Partnership was officially launched at a ceremony at the University of Regina.
The first phase of partnership initiatives is nearing completion. During this initial year, strategies translated into a broad range of learning programs and projects. Career resource services were established at each University, coordinated by O&ED's Eleanor Wright.
The process of assessing learning needs at the U of R was begun, with U of S graduate students Deb Woods and Naomi Frankel running focus groups for faculty and some sectors of employees in the CUPE 1975 group.
Under the leadership of Linda McCann, O&ED offered an enhanced array of learning opportunities that included programs developed to meet the needs of specific groups on campus.
A key focus from the beginning of the partnership has been leadership development.
Building on leadership programs that McCann had developed collaboratively with Lillas Brown of the Extension Division and the V-P offices (academic and finance & administration), managers, senior administrators, and Department heads participated in joint U of S/U or R leadership retreats in Watrous and Emma Lake.
At least as important, counterparts at both Universities were able to meet and exchange information and forge alliances.
Professor Keith Walker, of Educational Administration, was a participant at a Collaborative Leadership retreat.
"I came back saying I'd like all my colleagues to have similar opportunities for self-reflection," he says. "People are sometimes down on what they're not up on. If we can just have opportunities to talk, to listen, that really goes a long way to provide a context for more intensive and more meaningful connections."
The Learning Directory, a web site created by summer student Todd Fowler in collaboration with Computing Services at the U of S, is another key initiative made possible by revitalization funds.
Currently, the site provides information on O&ED programs and other learning opportunities offered by a wide range of departments and units at the U of S. The University of Regina has included at the site a summarized listing of the programs it offers.
A general intent of the partnership is that programs offered by one University be open to members of the other as well.
David Banman, manager of the Learning and Development team at University of Regina, says he's delighted with the partnership initiatives between the two Universities.
"I love the whole sense of cooperation and being part of a provincial university community. It's been really validating to me to find out that there are other people out there interested in providing meaningful learning opportunities."
The U of S and U of R teams recently met again in Davidson. There was a feeling of having completed a cycle. The three employees from each University had gathered to assess partnering opportunities that the second phase of revitalization funds will enable them to undertake.
The meeting lasted for several information-rich hours.
Banman says the partnership meetings have changed his mind about meetings. "We've had a lot of fun. I've never enjoyed meetings so much."
- Naomi Frankel
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