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Nacole Kaai and Victoria Sheehan discuss their TLP projects.

Transformational Leadership Program returns to Duluth

By Stephanie Vine, UMD improvement specialist and TLP coordinator

December 2, 2008

November 4 marked the kickoff for UMD's third cohort of the Transformational Leadership Program (TLP), a leadership development opportunity for faculty and staff that challenges participants and their executive sponsors to successfully lead teams in driving strategic process improvement projects that directly benefit groups of University faculty, students, or staff in meaningful ways. Knowledge, skills, and abilities are built using the University's "Performance Excellence Framework" based upon the DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve, and control) roadmap and multiple change management approaches. Fourteen University staff and faculty members comprise this year's training class, including three participants from the Twin Cities campus and two from U of M Extension Services.

Participants in this year's cohort are tackling projects that are strongly aligned with strategic University goals and objectives, including diversity in staff recruiting efforts, scholarship funding, and sustainability efforts. Matt Larson, senior consultant with the Office of Service and Continuous Improvement and TLP creator and instructor, describes this year's projects as being "rich in content and fully aligned with University strategies. The results of each project will definitely translate into great gains for the University," says Larson.

As an element of the University's strategic talent management system, TLP equips participants with cutting-edge leadership skills necessary to lead change and overall process improvement at all levels of the institution. "It's all about improving the quality of life for students, faculty, and staff by achieving improved performance results," says Larson.

TLP was initiated at the Duluth campus in 2006 in an effort to drive and support UMD's goal of increasing its retention and graduation rates. The success of the Duluth program was featured at the October 2008 Board of Regents meeting. Bruce Gildseth, chair of the retention and graduation rate initiative, told Board members "TLP provides us with the tools and techniques to move beyond strategy and recommendations--it provides a framework for action and results." Of the 33 participants from the first two UMD TLP cohorts, 20 worked on projects directly aligned with the UMD Strategy Map for Increasing Graduation Rates. Initial results show that both retention and graduation rates have increased over the past year.

On day one of training, UMD chancellor Kathryn Martin, a strong proponent of building talent through the TLP program, welcomed the group and talked at length about the importance of "continually looking for ways to make University services and operations more effective and efficient, especially in today's economically-strapped environment." She encouraged the participants to not only be agents of change, but also to be "risk takers and innovators," which can be difficult in higher education. Chancellor Martin pledged her support for the participants and their projects, saying "any and all innovative ideas for improving student and operational services will be considered and supported by UMD administration."

Randy Hyman, vice chancellor for Academic Support and Student Life, told the participants that his role as executive director of the UMD TLP is to "ensure the sustainability of projects, both past and current, to the extent that they address important University goals and priorities." He added that, due to the success of the Duluth faculty and staff program, he is exploring ways to extend the curriculum to students and to UMD community partners.

Kim Roufs, director of the UMD Advisement Coordination Center, described the TLP methodology as being thorough and thoughtful. Roufs will use TLP tools and techniques to clarify student expectations and define ways to better support faculty in their advising functions that result in more satisfied students, increased persistence rates, and more satisfied faculty.

Focusing on UMD sustainability efforts and communications, Mary Hennessy, information technology professional with Facilities Management, added that "TLP gives participants the opportunity to share information and ideas not only between departments, but also between campuses. By learning and working together with my colleagues, I will be better able to define the opportunities for improvement and achieve greater results."

UMD TLP cohort 3 training will conclude in spring 2009, with most projects being completed and implemented prior to the fall semester.

UMD TLP Cohort 3: Christina Geissler, UMD, Kirby Student Center, "Improving the Student Organization Registration Process" Adam Meyer, UMD, College of Liberal Arts, "Strengthening Internal and External Awareness of the College of Liberal Arts Resulting in Increased Scholarship Funding" Mary Hennessy, UMD, Facilities Management, "Enhancing UMD Sustainability Communications and Efforts" MaryLynn Garro, UMD, Labovitz School of Business and Economics, "Electronic Advising Files" Kay Westergren, UMD, Library, "Improving Inter-Library Loan Systems" Jennifer Imsande, UMD, Masters Program in Advocacy and Political Leadership, "Improving Assessment of Student Learning within the MAPL Program" Kim Roufs, UMD, Advisement Coordination Center, "Enhancing the Faculty Advising System" Trisha O'Keefe, UMD, International Student Services, "Improving the Mentor Program for International Students" Paula Pedersen, UMD, Psychology, "Developing an Intercultural Effectiveness Program for Students" Victoria Sheehan, UMTC, Networking and Telecom Services, "Improve Accuracy of NTS' Mysoft Database" Nacole Kaai, UMTC, Capital Planning and Project Management, "Lean and 5S Integration Strategies" Linda McElmurry, UMTC, Carlson School of Management, "Improving Recruiting Methods of Underrepresented Groups" Sherry Boyce, U of M Extension, "Improving New Employee Orientation Process for Extension Youth Development Staff" Barbara Radke, U of M Extension, "Developing a Community U Model for Educational Outreach Programming"