University Staff Advisory Committee partners with Ohio State leadership to create $150,000 grant pool
By Adam King
With urging from the University Staff Advisory Committee, Ohio State has agreed to tap into its funds from the lease of the parking operations to increase more than 10-fold the money available for Staff Career Development Grants.
What was a $10,000 to $15,000 pool will be increased to $150,000 — $75,000 to enhance existing grants and another $75,000 for manager development using existing services on campus, such as programs through the John Glenn School of Public Affairs, Fisher College of Business and the Women’s Place.
Krystyne Savarese, who completed her year as USAC chair June 30, said the grants were structured that way to target what staff have said are their biggest workplace concerns.
“The main themes we heard either through staff surveys or our focus groups are that staff want professional development opportunities and want an improved experience with their managers,” Savarese said. “Now more staff will have access to career growth support, and if we can polish the skills of our managers, all staff benefit from that.”
‘Staff are a critical component in our ability to deliver a quality education and conduct first-rate research. … To open more doors for staff enhancement, and then encourage it, is a win for our strategic vision. You don’t reach eminence by maintaining the status quo.’
- Executive Vice President and Provost Joseph Steinmetz
The details about the program are still being worked out, but the idea is to have applications available by the fall with grants distributed beginning in 2014.
Executive Vice President and Provost Joseph Steinmetz said increasing staff development opportunities is more than just an investment in individual knowledge and talent. The success of the overall academic mission requires a high-performance culture and the skills to support it.
“Staff are a critical component in our ability to deliver a quality education and conduct first-rate research,” Steinmetz said. “They are involved in so many things that must happen outside of the direct student-faculty interaction. To open more doors for staff enhancement, and then encourage it, is a win for our strategic vision. You don’t reach eminence by maintaining the status quo.”
USAC’s Savarese, new chair Emily Meyer and chair-elect Kevin Petrilla worked closely with Vice President for Human Resources AJ Douglass and Senior Vice President of Business and Finance Geoff Chatas to fund the program. USAC targeted increasing the Staff Career Development Grants and giving managers more training as its top two goals.
“We asked USAC to partner with us to determine an amount that would put some real air in the sails of staff career development,” Chatas said. “It’s another way for Ohio State to demonstrate our commitment to the great talent we have here at the university.”
The current iteration of the Staff Career Development Grant program allows up to $500 per person for such things as books, conference fees and associated travel and training courses. Thirty-seven staff received grants last year out of 109 applications, and being able to honor more requests in a given year adds robustness to a well-liked program. At times in the past, the program has drawn more than 300 grant applications.
“We are striving constantly to make Ohio State one of the best places to work, not just on paper and in rankings, and this is certainly a step in the right direction,” Douglass said. “Also, I am a huge proponent of giving people the opportunity to create momentum in their careers, and I’m confident staff will take full advantage of the program’s growth.”
USAC has proposed adding a third leg to the program model allowing offices to apply for grants, for example, to bring in speakers or host a webinar that could benefit multiple staff. USAC also has asked the Office of Human Resources to explore awarding grants above $500.
“There are so many progressive and innovative things happening across campus,” Savarese said. “I’m glad staff is part of the conversation, and the more people who can benefit from this, the better.”