Introducing the Strengths Spotlight!

by Cindy Kane, Director of Student Involvement and Leadership

Achiever, Competition, Arranger, Self-Assurance, themes, talents… some of these words are familiar to many of you as we have implemented the use of the StrengthsFinder tool in a number of areas of campus. Staff from all departments in Student Affairs and staff in divisions of Academic Affairs, Human Resources and Information Technology have enjoyed many “Discover your Strengths” presentations as well as workshops focused on team development. As of July 1, we had 1756 members of the BSU community who have completed Strengths Finder using a BSU purchased access code!

All of this self-discovery is great, but one of the pieces we have been lacking is a forum for ongoing learning and ongoing conversation about what we know about Strengths. This year we can help! The Professional Development Blog will host a “Strengths Spotlight” series of 34 posts where a member of the BSU community will share perspective on one of their Top 5 themes of talent.  Our goal is to share 34 posts with you over the course of the year in an effort to help you consider themes you may not have or to think about your own themes in new ways.

I hope you are looking forward to these posts as much as I am! Based on what has been submitted so far, I think many will enjoy the posts from colleagues and students and will benefit from increased understanding of the talents we all bring with us to work every single day.

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Supporting All Students: How to be a Commuter Friendly Front Line Staff Member

Adapted from Commuter Affairs and Community Service, University of Maryland College Park

As each of our departments works to support the achievement of our commuter student population, we’ll hope to share resources for professional development about this student population.  The National Clearinghouse for Commuter Programs (NCCP), located at Western Illinois University, offers publications and resources for professionals interested in expanding their knowledge of commuter student needs.

This resource sheet for front line staff is a great list of basic tips that can improve your department’s ability to support commuters!

  1. Take care to avoid shuffling students from office to office. Call ahead to be sure you are sending students to the right location and that the person they need to see is available. Offer to write down the name, address, and telephone number of the referral for the student.
  1. Provide full service during all hours of operations, even over the lunch hour. Consider offering early morning and/or evening hours one or more days a week. Post office hours on doors, voice mail greetings, and web sites.
  1. Provide complete telephone numbers including area code so commuter students can make calls from off-campus and refrain from using only the campus extension.
  1. Use the Internet to supplement front-line services. A thoughtfully developed web site can provide good information to students when offices are closed or personal visits are not possible. However, not all commuters have immediate access to mobile technology that can access documents, so providing telephone and face-to-face services along with printed material is important.
  1. Accurate directions are key. Maintain a supply of campus maps.
  1. Be aware of options for transportation and parking and how to find information about campus parking policies. Keep current bus/shuttle schedules and parking information on hand.
  1. Offer services through walk-ins and scheduled appointments. Waiting may be difficult for commuter students.
  1. Hire commuter students to work in your office.
  1. Be sure that signage in your building and office is visible, accurate, and complete.
  1. Keep an array of current information handy, including faculty/staff and student directories, undergraduate and graduate catalogs, schedule of classes, and calendars of events, to answer students’ basic questions.
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Free Resource: NASPA Live Briefings

NASPA just shared some great resources coming up! If you are interested in one of these sessions and do not have a NASPA membership, please connect with me at and I can assist!

Sept. 16 – 1:00 p.m. EST – The Rest of the Story: Effects on Administrators Following Campus Incident of Bias
Drawing upon racial battle fatigue literature and firsthand experience, presenters will discuss incident response as well as short and long term effects on those that respond.

Sept. 21 – 1:00 p.m. EST – Techne: Accessibility and Engagement – Designing Engaging Online Learning Environments for Graduate Students: Creating Programs Where Students Experience Community
USC’s Sharla Berry will discuss the role of highly structured online programs with technically savvy instructors, proactive students and required co-curricular experiences in promoting a sense of community for online graduate students.

Sept. 23 – 12:00 p.m. EST – Policy Briefing Series: Student Employment in the Context of the Affordable Care Act: Key Challenges and the Policy Conversation
NASPA’s Andrew Morse will discuss key issues and possible next steps in policy related to student employment under the Affordable Care Act.

Sept. 24 – 2:00 p.m. EST – Techne: Accessibility and Engagement – Online Orientation: Developing an Individualized Program
Kris Klann will explain how the University of Florida used e-learning platforms to develop an engaging online orientation experience, while being budget conscientious.

Sept. 30 – 1:00 p.m. EST – Building the A-Gap: A Roadmap to Success for First-Generation Students
During this interactive session, Dyonne Bergeron, Melanie Harris, and Keith Martin will highlight strategies that help this population to prevail over issues of social class, cultural barriers and academic inferiority.

Oct. 14 – 2:00 pm EST – Techne: Featured Speaker
Bill Carter, chief information officer of the Houston Community College System, will join us to discuss the view from the CIOs office and how IT and Student Affairs can work well together

Oct. 21 – 1:00 p.m. EST – Synergistic Supervision of Entry-Level Student Affairs Professionals: A Cross Cultural Examination
This session will introduce the synergistic supervision model and discuss how it can be revised for entry-level professionals.

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Free Resource: NASPA/ACPA Updated Professional Competencies

NASPA and ACPA have just released the updated content resource for Professional Competency Areas for Student Affairs Educators.

This resource is a great document to assist you as an individual with planning your own professional development initiatives! Utilize this resource for a little self-assessment to then guide your conversations with your supervisor about areas of focus for the coming year.

In addition, the Professional Development Committee will be using these competency areas to frame future planning and selection of topics.

What areas of the revised competencies are you hoping the Professional Development Committee will be working on in the year ahead? 

We look forward to your comments!

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Free Resources: Student Affairs Live!

Those of you tuned in to professional development social media have probably already heard of this great resource.  “Student Affairs Live” is a part of the “Higher Ed Live” network and is partnered with ACPA in an effort to bring professional development topics right to your desktop.

A recent show caught my eye given a few of our departments are engaged in Program Reviews using the CAS Standards.

Check out this recent episode called “Raise your Standards” and learn more about the CAS Standards and how they can be utilized to improve professional practice.

Listen to this show on your desktop here:

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Free Resource: TED Talks

We could spend 10 posts on the topic of TED Talks alone!

This one caught my eye – How to save the world (or at least yourself) from bad meetings.

Save the world (or at least yourself) from bad meetings

(The part about conference calls is particularly hilarious!)

This humorous look at our struggle to manage meetings more effectively probably resonates with even the best meeting managers and participants.  The cure for MAS is within each of us!

Anyone have other resources for effective meeting management? Please share! 

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Not Quite Free Resource: Udemy

I’ve been exploring the world of online learning platforms for professional development and learned a bit about Udemy.

There’s a course coming up that ties nicely with our Strengths work on campus and I wanted to share that it’s only $9 until July 31! Talk about budget friendly pricing!

Check it out:

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