Graduates should be able to demonstrate effective interpersonal communication skills with students and colleagues and their ability to develop and maintain effective partnerships with individuals from the campus and local community. In meeting this competency, students should demonstrate their experience with/ability to. . .
- Positively manage, develop, and engage in working relationships with faculty, staff, and students across functional and institutional boundaries;
Notes: Work with Financial Aid during scholarship process. Work with International Programs on curriculum integration project. Work with OSU’s College of Ag program at EOU. Work with Rhiannon at Lincoln University in New Zealand. What sorts of working relationships have I made with people in other areas of academia? Does my history working at a whole different institution (WOU) fit in here since I have crossed institutional boundaries simply by taking this job at OSU? Have any of those relationships at WOU been maintained since my arrival at OSU? How does my work with the departmental advisors for CAS tie into this competency? Use my three institutions three functional areas as example from the classroom.
Throughout my time as a CSSA student and in my professional career, I have developed countless working relationships. Since I wear many hats as Student Services Coordinator, I have had the opportunity to work with Financial Aid, the OSU Foundation, donors, International Programs, Admissions, the College of Agricultural Sciences departments, community colleges, Eastern Oregon University, Lincoln University in New Zealand, Corvallis Chamber of Commerce, the Registrar’s Office, a wide variety of students from all over the world, and many other individuals and organizations. One thing I have learned is that within campus, I am considered a representative of the College of Agricultural Sciences; and outside of campus, I am seen as a representative of OSU. When I speak to a parent about their daughter’s scholarship eligibility, the parent will remember that they spoke to an OSU scholarships official, not the Student Services Coordinator in the College of Agricultural Sciences. Another discovery that I have made is that it is important to approach relationships, whether on or off campus, keeping in mind that my main aspiration is to help students succeed. While engaging in work-related conversations, I will often remind my colleagues that we are all here for the same overall purpose, so we need to focus on practices that ensure student success. When speaking with donors, I always emphasize how thankful I am that they are directly supporting students in need. During conversations with students, I always finish by reminding them that I am here to help out however I can. If I don’t know the answer to a particular question, I will find someone who does. My goal is to exhibit this level of commitment to supporting students in all things that I do. Finally, I have learned that the personal relationships that are formed during professional engagements are critical to maintain. Some of the most influential people in my life are students and colleagues that I met during the course of my work. We get to know one another over time as unique individuals who each have something excellent to share. After the work is completed, we have to intentionally keep in contact, so that these special relationships continue to persist and thrive.
- Initiate and participate in working alliances and teams with a wide range of people across cultural boundaries;
Notes: Being a host for Japanese exchange students through the ELI. What working alliances do I have with people of other cultures? Include my working-relationship with Rhiannon at Lincoln University in New Zealand. Experiences from Cross Cultural or Multicultural courses? What else have I done as part of the CSSA program that has resulted in cross-cultural working relationships? What about in my personal life?
I frequently work with people from various cultural backgrounds, whether it is tackling a project with my colleague in the Academic Programs Office who is of a different sexual orientation than myself, corresponding with my counterpart at Lincoln University in New Zealand to ensure the safe passage of our study abroad students, or hosting a Japanese exchange student through the English Language Institute. Although OSU is often seen as majority white or lacking in racial diversity, I like to believe that whenever I have the opportunity to learn from members of our cultural centers or LGBTQ community, I am part of a strong and thriving multicultural campus where under the white surface, there are countless opportunities to join alliances in support of our many diverse populations. Much of my reflections in this regard are shared in Competency 4. However, with respect to creating working alliances, I have learned that differences are synonymous with opportunities for learning. Whenever I have the chance to work with people from different cultural backgrounds, I try to find ways that I can learn about aspects of their culture of which I am unfamiliar. My quest for learning cannot interfere with accomplishing the task at hand. But it is not uncommon for the positive transmission of culture to go hand in hand with the completion of a professional goal.
- Take on key leadership roles though these partnerships and collaborations;
Notes: My leadership role as Advisor for New Zealand program. Explaining differences between New Zealand and US education systems. Advise students of the cultural differences even if the other country is English-speaking. What sorts of diversity programs have I been involved with, and in what capacity? Development of articulations for transfer of credits from New Zealand.
As far as leadership roles are concerned, my main example is my role as Category B Administrator for the New Zealand study abroad program. I am responsible for advertising the program via fliers and participation at study abroad fairs, collecting applications from students, forming an interview committee, forwarding committee recommendations to Lincoln University, helping students complete the necessary paperwork for their student visas, providing basic orientation covering what needs to be done prior to departure and what to expect in New Zealand, maintaining contact with students while studying in New Zealand, collecting and preparing articulation documents for review by advisors, and communicating with my counterpart at Lincoln University throughout the year. I have learned that being a leader for this type of program makes me the point of contact for anyone who needs information about Lincoln University and New Zealand in general. I have not been to New Zealand, but I receive many questions about how the culture is different from ours in the US. I try to help people understand that often we experience culture shock in a much more insidious fashion when abroad in a foreign country that speaks English. Our minds tell us that they speak English, so how different could it really be? That is where the shock originates. New Zealand is a very different country with a separate culture and history of traditions. Many students travel to New Zealand and remain oblivious to the cultural differences throughout much of their time with the kiwis because they refuse to recognize the differences as they arise. However, other students come to understand the cultural differences and are unable to adjust to how different life could be in a country where the same language is spoken. It is my job to prepare students for the challenges they will face reconciling cultural differences prior to their departure. It has been a difficult learning curve for me since everything I know about New Zealand has come in the form of soliciting my returning students for everything that they can share with me about their experiences in New Zealand accompanied by some research on the internet. I feel confident about the partnership that I help to maintain in my leadership capacity with Lincoln University and enjoy sharing in the challenges that make study abroad so appealing to so many people.
- Serve as advocate, counselor, and/or advisor to students or student groups; and
Notes: CLAS diversity recruitment program through my office and relationship with Jee Lee as a mentor.
I am fortunate enough to work in an office where students come to receive both formal and informal advising because we are a central source of academic resources for the College of Agricultural Sciences. Through my position with the Academic Programs Office, I have had the pleasure of working with the Ambassadors for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Agricultural Executive Council, Community Leadership in Agricultural Sciences, and numerous clubs housed by our college. During my time working with these student organizations, I have developed some excellent relationships with individual students. These students come to me for informal advising and mentoring long after they are done working with our office through their participation in a student organization. In other words, these students have become my friends. As mentioned previously, we may initially work with colleagues and students in a professional capacity, but over time we get to know the person behind the position title. The long term maintenance of these important relationships concurrently serves as a source of counseling and advising from a trusted peer. I have noticed that the number of people who continually come visit me because of the relationship that we developed during their work with our office keeps growing over time. There are some afternoons where the only “work” that I do comes in the form of meeting with former students and employees in order to catch up on life’s events while that person also looks to me for some friendly advice. This is all part of the job and a very tangible reason for my desire to continue working in student affairs as my future career.
- Manage and/or mediate conflict, crisis, or problematic circumstances.
Unfortunately, since we are all humans, and humans make mistakes, problems do arise in our human-created systems from time to time. As a supervisor, I have had to deal with my fair share of uncomfortable challenges. Over time, I have learned not to take things personally when conflicts arise. Sometimes there are forces at work that are not the fault of any individual with malicious intent. Whenever possible, I try to maintain a harmonious working environment and deal with conflict separately in a controlled space. Of course, this is not always possible. So it is important that I remain mentally prepared to diffuse potentially inflammatory situations before things get ugly. More information about my management style is reflected upon in Competency 3.
When I started my current job, I entered an environment where three student workers had essentially been running the office with very little supervision. My predecessor was beloved by the student workers, and I was not the replacement the student workers were hoping for. So, for whatever reason, the resulting environment was lacking in communications and there was an overall atmosphere of misunderstanding. After six months in the position, I thought it might be useful for each of us to write performance reviews of one another, myself included, and then share them as a group. This was meant to be a positive exercise where each of us could point out what we appreciate about the work done by the others. The results were nothing short of verbally abusive. I decided to confront the students in a meeting so that we could air grievances and put this whole situation behind us. Here is the agenda from that meeting:
Surprisingly, this method was fairly effective and conditions changed for the better as a result. However, over these last couple years in the CSSA program, I have gained new lenses for how to look back on that situation as a learning experience. If I were placed in that same environment today, I certainly would not conduct the group evaluations exercise. From the very beginning I would bring the group together and listen to their needs and concerns. I would attempt to provide a nurturing environment where my role would be mentor and teammate, not supervisor. Conflicts of any kind would be addressed immediately through open communications so that issues do not fester and become personal resentment. Most of this I learned from Don’s philosophies on a spiritual organization architecture. “If only I knew then what I know now.”
Another learning experience came as a result of trying to help out another office in need. My assistant, who I highly respect, was asked to cover the office across the hall for a week while I was out of town. I assumed that this would be a non-issue, so agreed to have her help out the other office. What happened in the end was truly a nightmare. It turns out that the culture of the other office is completely different from my office, and my assistant broke a number of cultural norms during her time across the hall and was subsequently asked to leave. The resulting resentment between my assistant and some members of the other office were never completely resolved. However, this was an incredible learning process for me as a supervisor. First, I needed to share with my assistant why she was asked to leave. I decided to frame the delicate situation by shifting much of the blame on myself for not preparing her in advance for the different rules in that office. Next, I had to apologize to the other office by once again shifting the blame toward myself, because as the supervisor, I was responsible for preparing her to come help in the other office. In the end, I feel like I did as much as I could to diffuse the situation. I learned that often two offices, even within the same department, can have very different working cultures. So, it is dangerous to assume that just because certain norms exist in my working environment, that the same rules apply elsewhere. Most importantly, I discovered that even in a situation such as this, no one wished harm upon others. There are simply instances where unspoken expectations are broken and individuals become offended with no foul intent from any of the involved parties. Finally, I was even able to remind people that our overall goal is to support our students, so we shouldn’t allow our differences to detract from the services that we provide – and this reminder really worked!