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New employees participate in the "Discover Community" orientation program.

New U employees Discover Community

From Brief, July 30, 2008

The U's New Employee Orientation (NEO) program broke new ground with the debut of "Discover Community" on July 22. The second of three main events new employees attend during their first year of employment, Discover Community introduces employees to the richly diverse University community and addresses how differences contribute to transforming the U. But Discover Community is about far more than diversity. It highlights how individual differences, ideas, and perspectives are absolutely central to the mission of a public research university. It illustrates how differences allow for robust conversations, and how robust conversations can--and often do--lead to groundbreaking discoveries. And it emphasizes the U's imperative to provide a safe environment where differences are valued, conversations are encouraged, and real progress is possible.

"One of the best things about working at the University of Minnesota is that you get the chance to collaborate with brilliant people, no matter what your job duties," said NEO program manager Stacy Doepner-Hove. "The fact that we bring people together from so many different backgrounds, with so many different points of view, makes innovation and discovery readily available here." Participants in Discover Community had the opportunity to speak with their new colleagues and learn first-hand how diversity drives discovery.

Developed cooperatively by staff from the NEO program and the Office of Equity and Diversity, Discover Community was designed to be highly interactive. Participants go through activities that help them investigate how they view themselves and others, explore diversity scenarios through group discussion, and offer suggestions on how to be aware and active about diversity in the workplace.

The first group of new employees to attend the July 22 session was the same to inaugurate "Discover the U," the first session of NEO that was rolled out in January. Discover the U focuses on the history, leadership, and culture of the University. The third NEO session, which will debut in January 2009, will spotlight public engagement.

The yearlong NEO process was designed to recruit and retain exceptional faculty and staff, and to improve the retention of new employees by bringing them up to speed faster and making them feel an integral part of the University community.