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Claire Kari.

Claire Kari, Department of Environmental Health and Safety

A way to grow

Civil service professional development funds give staff a boost

By Peg Wolff

Brief, Oct. 25, 2006

Claire Kari, Department of Environmental Health and Safety, recently attended the 15th Annual Symposium on Developmental Biology. She paid for it with professional development funds awarded through the Civil Service Committee (CSC).

Robert Copeland, Center for Research on Developmental Education and Urban Literacy in General College (now part of the College of Education and Human Development), used a CSC award to attend a conference that helped him better understand a research project, Pass It, sponsored by the center.

Robert Copeland
Robert Copeland, Center for Research on Developmental Education

Kari and Copeland are two of twelve civil service staff University-wide who have received professional development funds so far in the 2006-07 fiscal year.

Each year the CSC allocates $2,000 of its operating budget for professional development awards. Eligible civil service staff members are those with appointments of 75 percent or more who get no professional development funds from their departments. Awards are used for conference registrations, certificate programs, workshops, classes, and seminars that help staff meet the changing demands of their jobs and enrich their lives. Kari sees professional development funds as a way to grow.

"The funds create the means for staff to stay current and involved in intellectual activities," she says. "An enlightened staff is better able to serve the community at the U and the larger community that the University serves. The funds also give tangible demonstration of the University's commitment to its employees' intellectual health, foster lifelong learning, provide opportunities for learning and networking that would otherwise be unavailable, and are a strong component of a mentally robust support staff."

How to apply

Applications must be received by the Civil Service Committee by the 15th of each month for consideration and action at its monthly meeting. Applicants are encouraged to send applications by fax or U.S. mail rather than campus mail. Requests must be received by the committee four weeks before the date of the seminar or course.

For more information, go to Civil Service Committee.

Copeland says that the funds allow CS staff the opportunity to extend themselves beyond what is normally available in their jobs and enrich their work and their lives.

"I now have a much better grasp of the workings of a specific research project that we sponsor and a much more collegial relationship with several faculty members," he says. "I was also exposed to a far broader understanding of our field of research and teaching, which helps me in doing my job and in explaining our program to the broader public."

The CSC funds currently provide awards for less than one percent of civil service staff. The number of applications has increased this year and there's a good chance the fund will be depleted by November. The CSC is looking at ways to expand its professional development program.

For more information about the civil service professional development funds, go to Civil Service Committee.

Peg Wolff is the 2006-07 chair of the Civil Service Committee. She works as a principal public relations representative in University Relations, Twin Cities campus.