New staff, mentoring and CED

John Lawrence’s Monday Message from May 1, 2017

Well, these few weeks of “acting” are over. It seems the Iowa State powers that be haven’t changed their minds, because I’m “interim” now. And that’s OK. I’ve always seen myself as a utility infielder for ISU Extension and Outreach. Whatever job needs to be done, I try to step up and help. I enjoy the opportunity to work with great faculty, staff and councils. And it’s truly an honor to help shape our next generation of extension professionals. I’m looking forward to New Staff Orientation on Thursday.

Did you know?

  • After our 2011 leadership summit, we started paying closer attention to how we introduce new staff to ISU Extension and Outreach. We formalized orientation and created an onboarding checklist for everyone – campus, field and county.
  • We now conduct New Staff Orientation twice a year, in spring and fall.
  • We’ll welcome 32 staff during New Staff Orientation on May 4.
  • It’s a full agenda with overviews on our structure, program areas, advancement, conference planning and management, the Iowa Extension Council Association, and respect in the workplace.

Another essential part of bringing new staff up to speed in our organization is mentoring – how we experienced extension professionals welcome, coach and shepherd our new colleagues. Having an engaged mentor can make a real difference in the success of a new hire and ultimately our organization. Without an engaged mentor we run the risk of the “tragedy of the commons”: It is everyone’s responsibility, therefore someone else will take care of it. Wrong. While it is everyone’s responsibility to make ISU Extension and Outreach a rewarding and enjoyable place to work, it is the mentors’ responsibility to shepherd our new colleagues through our system and culture, and to help them launch a successful career. The Mentor Academy led by our Professional Development unit equips our folks to be good mentors and to build great colleagues.

I also have an update on the Community and Economic Development director search: The search committee has named a finalist for the position of Associate or Full Professor – Director of ISU Extension and Outreach Program to Communities and Economic Development; Associate Director of the Institute for Design Research and Outreach; and Director of Design Extension. That candidate is Gary D. Taylor, current interim director for CED and an associate professor and extension specialist in the Department of Community and Regional Planning. You can learn about his interests and qualifications for the position during a public forum May 15 at 2:30 p.m. in the Memorial Union Gold Room. You also can participate via webinar. Information about Gary’s background is available on our Human Resources website.

Our people are our greatest asset and, as with any valuable asset, we must invest in them. Whether you are new staff or more seasoned, I hope that you all are proud of what you do, that you are supported in a way that you can do your job effectively, and that you are valued and appreciated by the people you work with and those you serve. Together we help Iowans identify needs, seek opportunities and achieve their fullest potential. We are the trusted source of unbiased information to help Iowans make better decisions to improve their lives and their communities for a strong Iowa. We are Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Interim Vice President for Extension and Outreach

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