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School and Unit Initiatives

Each school and unit at Northwestern committed to actions in response to area data from the inaugural staff survey. Schools and units were encouraged to consider small ideas, large ideas, and to involve staff in creating solutions where possible. In these pages are select highlights from across campus organized by topic,that demonstrate both innovative thinking and practical solutions. 

Each initiative includes a description of outcomes, an assessment of effort and cost, and a contact person.

Curious 'Cat 

Alumni Relations and Development

Curious ’Cat is a program in ARD that helps individuals learn about other job functions, connect with colleagues, and develop a broader perspective on the work across ARD.

Staff Engagement Initiative Detail
Outcomes Difficulty to Launch Time Investment Overall Cost
Increase in the level of interest in exploring new career paths in ARD. Neither easy nor difficult Moderate Negligible

Contact: Kate Rice

'Cat Chat

Alumni Relations and Development

A one-to-one speed networking event where ARD staff engage with their coworkers to expand their network and share career tips.

Staff Engagement Initiative Detail
Outcomes Difficulty to Launch Time Investment Overall Cost
After first two events, ARD received positive feedback about the opportunity it created to get to know coworkers and practice an elevator speech. Neither easy nor difficult Moderate Negligible

Contact: Erika Carey

Manager Mentor Program

Feinberg School of Medicine

The Manager Mentor Program is designed to support and develop managers of all levels at Feinberg by leveraging institutional resources and peer-to-peer knowledge.

Staff Engagement Initiative Detail
Outcomes Difficulty to Launch Time Investment Overall Cost
Over 40 pairs and active participation from the first cohort. Wide interest in this program, with asks for the next cohort applications and expansion to non-managers. Somewhat easy Substantial Moderate

Contact: Kathleen Dunne-Balducci or Michelle Grana

Professional Development Brown Bag Series

Feinberg School of Medicine

Quarterly lunch time classes offered to staff that cover professional development topics. Previous topics include: Effective Workplace Communication; Taking Charge of Your Career, NU Affinity Groups and Wellness Benefits at Northwestern

Staff Engagement Initiative Detail
Outcomes Difficulty to Launch Time Investment Overall Cost
Highly evaluated sessions with growing attendance. Staff are submitting topics for future planning. Very easy Negligible Negligible

Contact: Kathleen Dunne-Balducci or Michelle Grana

McCormick Training Hub

McCormick School of Engineering

The McC Training Hub provides presentations, info sessions, workshops, and boot camps across a wide variety of topics to support staff in their functional role and to contribute to professional development.    

Staff Engagement Initiative Detail
Outcomes Difficulty to Launch Time Investment Overall Cost
Staff appreciate the detail of the information and learning who the subject matter experts are within McCormick/NU.  There has been good attendance and interaction. Neither easy nor difficult Varies Negligible

Contact: Alice Kelley

Staff Grand Rounds

Feinberg School of Medicine

Quarterly events with skill and resource topics, presented by staff across Feinberg and Northwestern. These sessions are designed to target broad as well as specific functional areas.

Staff Engagement Initiative Detail
Outcomes Difficulty to Launch Time Investment Overall Cost
These sessions are meant to be more tactical in nature, which has helped some staff populations but does not always have broad-reaching scope. Topics have been solicited from staff to direct future scheduling and planning. Somewhat difficult Moderate Negligible

Contact: Kathleen Dunne Balducci

Process Improvement Suggestion Form

Office for Research

Created a standard electronic template to guide staff members in: Describing the problem to solve & proposed solution; Identifying the stakeholders and resources needed; Documenting review process & final go/no-go decision.

Staff Engagement Initiative Detail
Outcomes Difficulty to Launch Time Investment Overall Cost
A form will be piloted to collect and test the process for evaluating staff suggestions for process improvements. The intended impact is to give staff a clear process and route to provide their innovations, ideas, and suggestions for consideration and to develop a means to ensuring tracking and follow-up. Somewhat difficult Moderate Negligible

Contact: Roxane Malene

Finance Shared Services

Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences

Weinberg's Dean's Office Finance team dedicated staff to support academic departments and programs with financial transactions.

Staff Engagement Initiative Detail
Outcomes Difficulty to Launch Time Investment Overall Cost
There are now more opportunities for staff who wish to specialize in finance. With more specialists, staff in departments and programs can focus on academic responsibilities Somewhat difficult Moderate Vacant positions were repurposed to support this initiative

Contact: Beth Clifford Smith

Midday@McCormick

McCormick School of Engineering

A monthly staff event that invites a McCormick faculty member to present his/her research in a way specifically tailored for McCormick staff. 

Staff Engagement Initiative Detail
Outcomes Difficulty to Launch Time Investment Overall Cost
The events have been at full attendance. Fun (rather than work) connection between faculty and staff and also staff with other staff they might not know from across our variety of departments, programs, centers, and institutes. Somewhat easy Moderate Negligible

Contact: Alice Kelley

Improving Leadership Communication

Medill School of Journalism, Media and IMC

Medill focused on transparency and communication from school leadership. Examples of this include explaining policies, creating a bimonthly newsletter, and changing the format of all-staff meetings to make them more relevant to staff members.

Staff Engagement Initiative Detail
Outcomes Difficulty to Launch Time Investment Overall Cost
In surveying staff, the efforts towards improving transparency and communication from leadership have been highly successful. Staff feel that the leadership is more invested, available, and approachable. Somewhat easy Negligible Negligible

Contact: Sara Nelson, Andrew Fish

SESP@Work Newsletter

School of Education and Social Policy

Initiated a comprehensive newsletter to SESP faculty and staff, comprised of campus news, current job openings, new employees, employees that have left, staff spotlight, staff/faculty in the news.

Staff Engagement Initiative Detail
Outcomes Difficulty to Launch Time Investment Overall Cost
Positive feedback. Staff now have a way of knowing what others in SESP are up to, which had been an expressed need. Neither easy nor difficult Negligible Staff time

Contact: Karen Kellams

Coffee with the Dean

School of Education and Social Policy

An open house session with Dean Figlio to interact with staff.

Staff Engagement Initiative Detail
Outcomes Difficulty to Launch Time Investment Overall Cost
Staff enjoy face time with the Dean and others they don't normally see.  Extremely easy Negligible Negligible

Contact: Melissa Weidman

NUIT Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Initiative

Northwestern Information Technology

NUIT created a D,E&I steering committee.

Staff Engagement Initiative Detail
Outcomes Difficulty to Launch Time Investment Overall Cost
The committee has been established, and picked "allyship" as its first annual theme. The committee organized training courses, solicited team members, and confirmed guiding principles. Neither easy nor difficult The team members self select to participate.  More of a grass roots effort than top down directive. Negligible

Contact: Allison Porterfield, Jackie Milhans

Psychological Safety, Empowerment &Autonomy

Office for Research

The Psychological Safety, Empowerment and Autonomy Action Team identified three action items to address needs. The first action item was to establish written OR values, expectations, and accountability standards.

Staff Engagement Initiative Detail
Outcomes Difficulty to Launch Time Investment Overall Cost
A draft of five core values for the Office for Research is complete. Options for dissemination are under consideration, and the intended impact is to foster ongoing improvements to staff engagement, a healthy work environment and career satisfaction. Somewhat difficult Substantial Negligible

Contact: Beth Irwin

ACRL Diversity Alliance Resident Program

University Libraries

Recruit a recent MLS graduate from a minority background for a residency program designed to prepare the resident to participate in higher education environment and for success in scholarship, professional service and leadership in libraries.

Staff Engagement Initiative Detail
Outcomes Difficulty to Launch Time Investment Overall Cost
In progress Somewhat difficult Moderate Substantial

Contact: Stephanie Simko

Work-life Balance Committee and Manager Tip Sheet

Office for Research

Developed a charter for a standing work-life balance committee comprised of diverse staff members to serve as a resource for work-life issues within the Office for Research. Drafted a tip sheet for distribution to managers to guide them when dealing with work-life balance issues.

Staff Engagement Initiative Detail
Outcomes Difficulty to Launch Time Investment Overall Cost
The team recognized the diversity of activities within OR and built plans accordingly. Guidelines around work-life issues previously did not exist within OR and having these resources should provide significant value to staff. Neither easy nor difficult Moderate Negligible

Contact: Rebecca McNaughton

Weinberg College Best Practices Forum

Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences

Modeled after the University event, the Weinberg College Staff Advisory Board sponsored a College-level Best Practices Forum, with the theme, Work Self/Whole Self.

Staff Engagement Initiative Detail
Outcomes Difficulty to Launch Time Investment Overall Cost
Work Self/Whole Self has been adopted as a theme for the Staff Advisory Board, with events and communications shaped around this idea that our staff are whole people who have personal and professional achievements worth celebrating. The College's Best Practices Forum will become a regular event.
Somewhat difficult Substantial Negligible

Contact: Beth Clifford Smith