New staff development center to open

January 8, 2001

Arthur Nead

The new Center for Workplace Effectiveness will open for business this month, offering Tulane staff employees a wide variety of new opportunities for training and personal improvement. The center will be open to all permanent, 50-percent-or-greater staff employees, says Frank Currie, director of employee relations, who will head the center.

"The center's mission will focus on two areas," he says. "There will be classes that teach proficiency skills such as computer operation, Web-based design, grammar and proofreading skills, and telephone skills. In other words, skills that could help you do your job better and perhaps provide advancement into other positions or responsibilities," says Currie.

The second area of focus is what Currie calls life skills, subjects of a more personal nature, such as stress management, communication and depression in the workplace. "These classes could be a real benefit to staff employees, some of whom bring a lot of care and worries to work that affect their performance and contribute to holding them back," says Currie.

Classes planned for the first six months include those listed above and address areas that department heads have identified as critical needs for the university, according to Currie. "We will also offer some specific events such as leadership seminars," he says, adding that there will also be some department-specific classes. "Ultimately we hope to have a learning library, including computer-based training offerings."

Some programs will be geared specifically to managers and supervisors, but the vast majority will be for development of individuals. The center will offer a number of sessions that will be held twice a month, with each lasting anywhere from 90 minutes to two days, depending on the subject matter. All sessions will be held during the work day, and will be located alternately on the uptown, downtown and primate center campuses.

"In fact, the center has no single geographical location," says Currie. "Sessions will be held wherever the appropriate resources, such as computer labs or classrooms, can be found. Teachers also will be drawn from a variety of resources. Some will be Tulane faculty and staff with expertise in appropriate areas. The university also will use institutions such as Delgado Community College for courses and training. These are all venues that are different from pursuing traditional academic coursework," says Currie.

Taking classes will not guarantee that promotions will be forthcoming, but it should provide employees with skills and knowledge to support their career goals.

"In time, what we really want to be able to do is create a development curriculum for each individual, with training and classes tailored to the employees specific career steps," says Yvette Jones, senior vice president for planning and administration and interim vice president for human resources. "For instance, if you're in a particular area, such as one of the trades, you could take a progression of certification and training courses in order to move up."

Session availability will be on a first-come, first-served basis, says Currie, with most classes having approximately 20 openings. The newly redesigned human resources Web site will list classes, schedules and instructions for registering. Shortly after the employee registers, both the employee and the employees supervisor will receive confirmation of the class place and time in the mail.

"This serves as a reminder to the employee and as an informational tool for the supervisor, to let them know that the employee has signed up and when the session is scheduled to happen," says Currie. A 12-member committee composed of staff employees from across the university have been involved in planning and implementing this program and will evaluate the program as it develops.

"Developing the center is consistent with Tulane's strategic plan, which places emphasis on people and community-building both inside and outside the university," says Currie. "This is a program we've been in need of for years. I see it as a way of improving communications, providing a better grounding in life, and giving employees the tools to successfully balance the competing demands of personal life and career."

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000