Western Carolina University's Staff Senate is expanding its support for job-related learning opportunities for employees as a result of a $10,000 allocation from the university to establish a staff professional development fund.
Applications are now being accepted for financial assistance to pursue professional development activities. Permanent staff members who have a year or more of service at the university are eligible, with maximum individual funding set at $750.
“In our 2018 survey, respondents indicated that 30 percent of staff who had less than six years on the job had partial, varying or no financial support for professional development,” said Deidre Hopkins, senate member and its professional development liaison. “This year, we will focus on ensuring that the funds are spread across the institution and demonstrating that employees and departments benefit appropriately from this investment. Our ultimate goal is to secure recurring funds and have a large enough fund pool so that we can increase the max.”
Examples of opportunities that the fund can support include certification programs, enrollment in workshops and attendance at seminars and conferences, as well as training and related travel expenses, any of which is required for staff members to perform their job duties. Career-advancing college admission tests, such as the SAT and GRE, also are considered.
“The Staff Senate appreciates Western’s administration for recognizing staff development as a funding priority this year,” said Alison Joseph, the group's chair for 2019-20. “We believe that we can use this investment strategically to benefit staff members and their departments across campus as they seek skills, certifications and other professional growth opportunities.”
An elected body that represents permanent, nonfaculty employees and serves in an advisory capacity for university leadership, the Staff Senate works to ensure that staff contributions are recognized.