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University of Minnesota banner on a lamp post surrounded by green leaves.

A warm Minnesota welcome

Support for new U faculty, staff, and families

by Mary Everley and Patricia Snodgrass

From Brief, September 8, 2004

"What will it be like in the winter?"

This is the most common question heard at the Relocation Assistance Program (RAP) from new faculty and staff on the Twin Cities campus who are relocating from outside Minnesota.

RAP does dispense advice on winter outdoor activities, cultural events, warm clothes, block heaters, and the Gopher Way to help prepare new staff and families for those sub-zero days. It's also a great source of information about housing, neighborhoods, schools, and social groups.

Links for new Twin Cities campus employees

Relocation Assistance Program /rap

New employee orientation /orientation

"Conducting a Job Search in the Twin Cities"
Relocation Assistance Workshop for Spouses and Partners
Sept. 21 /rap/workshop.html

Outside the U

Twin Cities Transplants

This group's goal is to "help build a circle of friends [and] a sense of community in the Twin Cities of Minnesota and St. Paul." /DesktopDefault.aspx

New employees can find help to make both professional and personal connections with colleagues at the U and in the community, and relocating spouses and partners can get help in finding employment. (See box, left.)

Welcome to Duluth, Morris, Crookston, and Rochester!

A sense of community may be easier to find--at least initially--on U campuses where the number of faculty members ranges from around 60 in Crookston to around 450 in Duluth.*

Duluth welcomed 51 new faculty members at campus orientation Sept. 3, which included a faculty breakfast and introductions by the deans. Colleges also provide orientation. For new P&A staff--13 this year--orientation is provided by departments.

Morris welcomed 19 new faculty members and 18 new P&A staff this fall. Activities included orientation, a welcome dinner, and a welcome brunch for new spouses and partners. The chancellor and vice chancellor and their spouses hosted events, assisted by the Office of Human Resources and the UMM Associated Spouses and Partners group.

At the Crookston campus, new faculty and staff orientation was provided by the director of human resources as part of the faculty and staff opening week, Aug. 23-27. Activities included an opportunity for professional photos, an all-campus picnic, and lunch with the Chamber of Commerce.

Rochester holds a picnic in August to welcome new employees, and then a "Welcome to UMR" event with the provost about a week into the semester. New employees receive ongoing support from the provost's and human resource offices. Most of the Rochester faculty comes from the Twin Cities campus; they teach in person one night a week or through interactive TV.

--G. Marty, ed.

RAP is part of the Center for Human Resource Development in the Office of Human Resources. Year round, it strives to be a warm and welcoming place for new faculty and staff.

On a campus with about 3,000 faculty members and 4,000 academic professional and administrative (P&A) staff,* finding a sense of community can seem hard, at least at first. RAP typically works with well about 175 new faculty and staff members.

That's why it's up to everybody on campus to make the climate less chilly for newcomers.

Santiago Fernandez-Giminez, an editor in the Learning Abroad Center who recently returned to the Twin Cities campus, said he found the campus a welcoming place.

"However," he adds, "in September, when relocating employees need it most, staff are often too focused on their own work to take time to greet new employees." He suggests we open ourselves to each other in the community, just as students do.

"Sometimes it is nice to take a break and make an effort to reach out to new faculty, staff, and students," he says.

As fall semester commences and temperatures drop, be aware and watch for people who might be looking for something or just need a friendly word. That person may be a new student or a new faculty or staff member.

Take a break and make an effort, as Fernandez-Giminez says. Invite a new colleague to lunch or tell them about your favorite museum, orchard, or fall foliage drive. You'll feel warmer, and all of us will benefit when new members sense they belong to the University community.

Mary Everley is administrator of the Relocation Assistance Program at the Twin Cities campus.

Pat Snodgrass is the communications coordinator for the Center for Human Resource Development.

*Based on University employee statistics in "Facts and Figures," December 2003, (PDF). The University as a whole is the fourth largest employer in Minnesota.

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