Strategy Two

Create a Center for Academic Excellence, Collaboration, and Professional Development

The university currently offers limited travel support for faculty and staff to attend state, national, and international conferences. However, the institution does not offer a regular set of professional development programs and services for faculty that explores new strategies, pedagogies, or learning technologies, or training in advising and mentoring. This initiative is intended to build on these efforts by creating a comprehensive support system for faculty and staff that extends from recruitment to retirement.

Currently, new employees are provided information through Human Resources regarding primarily payroll and benefit elections and further information varies by department. In an effort to better assist new employees making the transition into their new community, Henderson will develop an employee-centered orientation program in which all new employees are welcomed to the campus community warmly, are appropriately trained for their positions, are oriented to the unique nature of working for a university, and are provided with the guidance of a mentor. This program will be tailored to the particular nature of the position, whether faculty, non-classified staff, or classified staff.

Faculty and staff provide service to the university through various efforts, including committee work. Analysis of the number and the structure of committees will be addressed in the strategy for shared governance. The support system developed through this strategy will address methods to recognize the value of faculty and staff members’ committee work and other service to the university that fall outside the required duties of the employees’ regular appointments.

In an effort to aid the ability of employees to interact beyond their departments and committees, a coordinated approach will be initiated to provide more opportunities to interact across disciplines in social settings which encourage collegiality, interdisciplinary cooperation and the development of innovative ideas.

Programs in this strategic initiative would address the specific needs and challenges of faculty and staff in various stages of their careers and would provide the infrastructure to support teaching, service, scholarly work, collaboration, and professional development. It will provide a clear sense that a mutual and productive long-term relationship between the individual and the institution is in the best interest of both.

Action and Elements

  1. Implement a new employee orientation program that will provide new employees with the resources and training to allow for a smooth transition into their employment at the university and to allow them to be productive upon arrival.
    • Before an employee’s first day at work, the supervisor will set up the necessary equipment for the specific position (computer, telephone, mobile phone); access (email account, computer, long distance code, building access, keys); and other resources (business cards, name tags, purchasing card, authorization to drive on university business).
    • New employees will be provided with a campus tour, initial training on the operation of the university’s computer and telephone systems, and orientation to performance expectations and other topics related to their positions by their supervisor as within their first week of employment.
    • New employees will be provided with training on legal issues, law enforcement and safety on campus, student behavior concerns, service to university and the community, purchasing, travel, and position-specific software programs to orient them to working at the university within the first month of employment.
    • New administrative assistants will be provided with training in all of the basic office software programs within their first six months of employment.
    • The university will create a university-wide, topic-based contact list available on the website.
    • The university will create a central repository of all university policies and procedures on the website.
  2. Develop a comprehensive strategy for assisting faculty and staff relocating to Arkadelphia, including
    • Place to stay during housing search.
    • Supporting spouses with job searches.
    • Information on child care.
    • Allocating funding to assist with moving expenses.
  3. Allocate units in Whispering Oaks to be used as rentals for new faculty.
  4. Create a faculty/staff lounge to facilitate interdisciplinary interaction.
    • Henderson will allocate space in one of the residential properties for a faculty/staff lounge.
    • The lounge will be furnished with comfortable chairs, coffee and tea supplies, and a refrigerator.
    • The lounge will serve as a comfortable space for faculty and staff to interact during regular work hours.
    • Consider offering Friday afternoon social hours.
  5. Allow faculty an opportunity to apply for up to three hours of load release in order to pursue specific scholarly or artistic projects which result in some form of off-campus, peer-reviewed, scholarly or artistic product. This might also apply to individuals serving in leadership roles in professional organizations. Appoint a committee to
    • Explore potential impacts of granting load release.
    • Devise an application process and application guidelines.
    • Develop a means of documenting results.
  6. Increase faculty and staff development offerings on campus
    • Survey faculty and staff to determine common topics of interest.
    • Develop a schedule for development offerings.
  7. Increase funding for faculty conference attendance and participation.
    • Identify potential funding sources to support faculty development.
  8. Allocate funding for staff to attend professional workshops and conferences
    • Identify potential conferences and workshops via staff input.
    • Develop a budget to meet 70% of staff workshop requests.
  9. Identify methods to recognize and support the contributions of adjuncts and part-time employees.