University of Minnesota
Office of Human Resources

UP! Circles

UP! Circles Circle UP! Networking Event on July 30, 2014

Campus staff and faculty are invited to a Circle UP! networking event, building on the successes of similar events in February and May. Get out of your office, learn something new, and bring back great ideas to your department or unit.

When: Wednesday, July 30, 9:30-11:30 a.m.

Where: 212 Civil Engineering

Who: Anyone who's participated in UP! Circles in the past, or is interested in learning more about participating in the future. (Online applications for 2014-2015 will be available August 4. The first large-group meeting will be Wednesday, October 1.)

What: We'll start with a "speed networking" activity. Speed networking is easy, fun, and stress-free, and even the introverts among us loved it at the February and May events. We'll then participate in an Art of Hosting Proaction Cafe, an action-oriented discussion activity. If you have a project or issue that could use some fresh perspectives, bring it to the event; three or four ideas/issues will be chosen for small-group discussion. We'll also delve into the topic of employee engagement and collect your ideas for making UP! Circles even better next year.

How to sign up: Please RSVP here so we know how many people can make it. We look forward to seeing everyone! Questions may be directed to Dave Dorman, UP! Circles advisor at

Applications for the 2014-2015 will be available in August 2014

The program will run from October 2014 through April 2015. The information below that describes past cohorts will most likely provide the foundation for the new cohort. The 2014 UP! Circles Steering Committee is hard at work making plans for the new cohort. Please send an email to Dave Dorman, the program adviser, if you would like to receive information about applying for the 2014-2015 cohort when it is ready.

UP! Circles (University Professional Circles) is a 10-month professional development program designed to enhance one’s professional effectiveness, cut across the barriers that lead to staff isolation, and support the University’s mission.

  • As a large group, we will engage with experts in the field monthly on topics from communication to organizational change.
  • In small groups, we will advance targeted goals using a professional circles model based on adult learning theory.
  • Each UP! Circle participant will be part of a small group that will identify and implement one micro-project to improve or develop potential solutions around a concern, problem, or issue related to achieving a culture of success for all at the University. Past micro-projects have ranged from a fitness-walking group to an online system for bringing together U of M employees with similar interests.

UP! Circles flyer (pdf)

UP! Circles video

Benefits you'll receive

  • Support for advancement of individualized professional development goals
  • Expanded networking opportunities across campus
  • Opportunity to improve the University of Minnesota’s internal culture of success for all
  • Opportunities for collaboration and cross-departmental initiatives
  • Participation in discussions about relevant and topical issues and problems faced by the University, its employees, and public stakeholders

Program format

  • UP! Circles meet two times per month from January to October. One meeting will be in a small group and one as a large group.
  • Small groups will be matched based on interests. During the course of the small group meetings, using guided discussion, the members will keep each other on track toward the selected professional goals. Each small group will also pursue a micro-project during the program. Meeting dates, times, and locations will be determined by the small group.
  • Large group monthly meetings will consist of a speaker alternating with open discussion. The meetings on January 30, 2013, and October 30, 2013, will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (including lunch). The February, March, April, May, June, July, and September meetings will be held on the third or fourth Wednesday of the month from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. All large-group meetings will be held in Room 210-215 at the Donhowe Building, 319 15th Ave. SE.
  • At the January Kickoff, participants will learn how to conduct UP! Circles, set goals, and receive a group debrief on the StrengthsQuest assessment, which each participant will complete prior to the kickoff.

Time commitment

  • Two four-hour sessions for opening and closing (January and October)
  • Seven 90-minute large group sessions
  • Nine monthly small group meetings (one-two hours each)

Potential large-group topics

  • Non-positional leadership
  • Equity and diversity today
  • How to influence without authority
  • Creating productive professional relationships through networking
  • Develop cross-campus partnerships
  • Working effectively in groups
  • Ways to change an organizational culture from within
  • How to supervise with respect
  • Ways to change an organizational culture

Application process

The application period for the 2013 UP Circles! program is now closed. Application information for next year's program will be posted when available.

  • Program is open to all faculty and P & A, civil service, and labor represented staff
  • Supervisor endorsement is required
  • Registration fee is $50.00; a very limited number of waivers will be available. Waiver process.
  • Limited applications accepted (maximum of 50 participants)
  • EFS and personal checks are accepted

Comments from 2012 participants

“I enjoyed meeting and learning from U of M staff from other departments. My small group was wonderful and we plan to stay in touch.”

“The presentations at the large-group meetings exceeded my expectations. They were carefully selected, well presented, and relevant.”

"The support and feedback I got from my small-group peers helped keep me motivated to stay on track with my career as well as personal goals."

“My group’s micro-project (serving as a conversation panel for international students) was a real highlight. I enjoyed brainstorming and working on the project together, and the amount of time we spent was very reasonable.”

For more information:
UP! Circles

2013 Steering Committee: Scott Davenport, Medical School; Astrid Knott, Psychiatry, VA Medical Center; Jules Lehto, Disability Services; Mary Lilly, SMART Learning Commons; Amy Sitze, U of M Foundation

Program Advisor:Dave Dorman, Organizational Effectiveness, Office of Human Resources