Employees who undertake professional development and training activities report greater satisfaction with their jobs. They say they feel more engaged, more motivated, and empowered to make a positive difference in their workplaces. They discover ways to make their work faster, better, and more interesting, and they acquire new skills that can advance their careers.

To encourage A&S staff members to take advantage of these kinds of opportunities, in 2011 the Dean’s Office created the STAR program. STAR provides staff members a way to track their professional development and continuing education activities.

Major Revisions in 2020

The College of Arts and Sciences encourages professional development among its staff, which is why STAR exists. But the College also wants to make sure that the program aligns with the goals of the College and doesn’t impose an unwelcome burden on A&S staff members.

During the Fall 2019 semester, A&S Senior Information Officer Ruth Pionke assembled a committee of staff representatives from each division. During meetings with this committee and the staff advisory board, she collected information regarding what people liked and did not like about STAR. She also reviewed STAR surveys distributed to staff in previous years.

Based on this information, it appeared that there were two groups of staff who were interested in STAR:

Group 1 — Professional Enlightenment: This category consists mostly of staff who are interested in STAR for its immediate benefits and as a way to become more well-rounded individuals.

Group 2 — Professional Development: This category is generally made up of staff who would like to use STAR as a way to expand their resumes and eventually use these skills for promotion into other positions.

Recommendations

The program was redesigned to take both of the aforementioned groups into account. Based on staff feedback, it was also recommended that the incentives for the program be clear and transparent from the beginning of the STAR year so individuals can choose whether or not to participate. Finally, because the idea of professional development and the offered rewards may not appeal to everyone, it was recommended that no punitive action be taken against those who choose not to participate. STAR participation is not, and never has been, required.

The new STAR program was announced to the department chairs on Friday, February 14, and to A&S staff on Tuesday, February 18.