Representatives of the College of Human Ecology accepted CAPA's 2005 Outstanding Unit Award April 18 at the Andersen Library, Twin Cities campus. Left to right with Peanuts character Linus: associate deans Catherine Solheim and Daniel Gallaher and research fellow Cathy Schulz, current chair of CHE's P&A Consultative Committee. Linus was visiting the library as part of a Sherlock Holmes exhibit.
College of Human Ecology wins 2005 CAPA Unit Award
By Debbie Boyles
From Brief, May 25, 2005
In the College of Human Ecology, academic professional and administrative (P&A) staff are often surprised when they hear colleagues in other units grumble about status and access to opportunities. P&A's in CHE are typically on equal footing with faculty, making for a relatively "classless" environment.
The positive climate for academic and administrative P&A's in CHE stems from the college constitution, which defines both professionals and administrators as P&A faculty, according to college chief of staff Kathy Witherow. P&A's share governance with the faculty and the civil service and bargaining unit staff.
So it was really no surprise when the college was named as the 2005 Outstanding Unit Award winner by CAPA, the U's Council of Academic Professionals and Administrators. The CHE nomination--documenting its tradition of inclusiveness in administration, scholarship, and governance--stood out from the rest.
"Our committee was impressed by how inclusive their constitution is and the opportunities and recognition they receive," says Elaine Challacombe, chair of CAPA's Professional Development and Recognition Committee. "It was pretty amazing."
P&A climate surveys in the college have always shown high satisfaction, says Beth Emshoff, CHE director of professional studies and a member of the CAPA Executive Committee.
"The discipline of the college, which focuses on the relationship of people with their environments, puts people at the center," Emshoff says. "This perspective lives in the way we work in CHE."
The field of human ecology was founded in the early 1900s (though it was called home economics for most of a century). Its emphasis on people and their relationships with their environments, and the value it placed on women's roles, have profoundly influenced the CHE culture.
The college was cited by CAPA for its P&A practices in many areas. For example, a consultative committee, formed more than 12 years ago, advises the dean on P&A matters.
"This is an active committee, but what really makes a difference is that P&A's feel valued and know that their comments and ideas are listened to," Witherow says. Some CHE examples:
- P&A's can apply for professional leaves of 6 to 48 weeks; recently, a lecturer received a 15-week leave to write and submit articles to peer-reviewed journals to disseminate research findings.
- CHE P&A's are expected to participate in professional development, and funds are available to support conference attendance and other professional development activities.
- In recognition of the critical role of P&A's in teaching, three P&A faculty members have received professor titles and are eligible for promotion within professorial ranks. Recognition is also extended by an annual awards program: P&A faculty are eligible for half of the 14 awards.
- Many P&A faculty members pursue graduate work at the University, and five have participated in the President's Emerging Leaders Program.
- Currently, 12 P&A faculty hold multi-year appointments.
CHE faculty and staff members are proud of the college's inclusive and supportive culture.
"The faculty, staff, and students in the college are the community of the college," says dean Shirley Baugher. "As teams, we create environments that support and nurture our work. The recognition of our community is an honor."
Debbie Boyles, e-communications manager in the College of Human Ecology, Twin Cities campus, is a member of the P&A faculty.