New Professionals Rate Program Highly in Second Year at Wisconsin

From June 12–16, 46 participants joined colleagues at the University of Wisconsin–Madison for IPDS: New Professionals Orientation. While the program consistently receives high ratings, for the third consecutive year all participants who responded to the evaluation said they would recommend IPDS to others and were able to build a professional network. Additionally, all will consider sending participants to future sessions of the program.

On the evaluation one participant said: “I truly loved the conference. I gained invaluable knowledge and heard some lessons that I needed to hear in a safer space. I found the networking opportunity awesome and enjoyed the sessions very much.”

IPDS is ACUI’s oldest professional development program, dating back to 1967. This was the second year it was held at the University of Wisconsin, and the host school sent four participants.

The curriculum is grounded in research that indicates new professionals need training in supervision, assessment, and budgeting. Participants gave the IPDS presenters and content “excellent” ratings of 3.7 and 4.0 out of 5.0 respectively. A favorite among participants was the workshop on careers in college unions, facilitated by ACUI CEO John Taylor, who worked in college union and student activities for many years.

“This was a very engaging session. How he connected the messages with current events happening at the universities of the attendants was appreciated,” one attendee said on the evaluation. “It shows that he knew his audience and you can tell that he tailored the presentation just for us.”

This year’s faculty also included some new faces, such as Jane Oberdorf, who led the workshop on budgeting. “This was definitely a session that I didn't know I needed,” one participant said.  “I don't do budgeting but know that I might one day. Seeing it firsthand was great. I might not understand everything yet but it's a much-appreciated start.”

Additional topics included a workshop on creating motivating environments, using student/staff relationships to enhance student learning, student activism, building operations, and a panel of IPDS alumni. A new highlight this year was a session on art in the college union. Participants had an opportunity to use the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s craft facilities to make screen-printed panels about what community means. Using their own original artwork, panels were then strung together to make a banner, currently on display at the ACUI Central Office.

The final session of IPDS featured a panel of union and activities professionals who shared their career paths and answered attendees’ questions. The panelists were Mark Guthier, director of the Wisconsin Union at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and Cara Rubis, director of the University Center at the University of Wisconsin–River Falls.

“It's always great hearing from people in the higher position and hearing where they started from and how they got to where they are now,” one person commented on the evaluation. “Knowing that they have made mistakes and had these journeys through higher ed makes them seem like real people. I think I always put directors on a pedestal, and seeing them as regular people who have just climbed the ladder makes me feel like I can also do that and be successful in the field the way I hope to be.”

Another participant agreed: “Mark and Cara provided excellent context for those of us starting out in our union/student affairs careers. I took a lot away from this session with regard to management (up and downstream) and the importance of trying new things even when we may not feel completely ready for it. It was really valuable to hear from them as new employees.”

In addition to speed sharing, a fast-paced innovation exchange that has become a mainstay of IPDS, attendees appreciated a “Best of Speed Sharing” that allowed everyone to vote on and hear more about the favorite ideas from the week. Additionally, individuals were asked to create a short video prior to the seminar—such as a facility tour, software demonstration, or program overview—and then shared them with each other.

Participants were able to tour the recently renovated Union South as well as the completed portions at Memorial Union. Individuals also had options to tour the football stadium or participate in community service.

Plans for next year’s IPDS are underway; the program will return to its original home at Indiana University–Bloomington, June 18–22, 2018. Contact acui@acui.org for more information.

 

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