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CALS Proud initiative kicks off with staff workshop

Have you ever run a marathon?

Do you like spicy food?

Can you name all the members of the Beatles?

These questions, among many others that reverberated throughout a crowded room in the Witherspoon Student Center, helped break the ice – and set the tone – for the college’s inaugural “CALS Proud” staff workshop.

Nearly 70 members of the college’s staff, from units throughout campus and across the state, participated in the day-long event in April, which offered everything from creative get-to-know-you activities to group discussions and personal reflection.

The idea for the CALS Proud initiative stemmed from discussions in the Staff Senate, as well as conversations that took place during the college’s staff forum in January.

“There has been so much change in our college that we’ve lost some continuity,” said Dr. Marshall Stewart, director of college strategy and leadership. “We really wanted to bring folks together and affirm that the college values them and wants to help make them stronger leaders. Also, we believe that if you really want to grow as an organization, you need to make sure you’re investing in your people, helping them grow as individuals as well as professionals.”

The staff workshop focused on themes from Jon Gordon’s book “The Energy Bus,” which was required reading for participants. Hands-on sessions covered such topics as relationship-building in the workplace, respecting and appreciating people’s distinctive personality traits, and identifying personal goals and dreams.

The day wrapped with participants writing down a commitment to personal growth. These private letters, which were sealed and collected by the event organizers, will be mailed to each individual in three months.

CALS Proud participant Carolyn Alvarado, business services coordinator for CALS Communications, said that the workshop was timely.

“I recently joined the university and was so pleased to see that workshops like this were being made available to me,” she said. “CALS Proud offered strategies on how you could help your department shine, and that was important for me as I’m looking to make a positive impact in my new role.”

More CALS Proud workshops are being planned, Stewart said, including one for faculty.

“We hope that these workshops instill a greater sense of unity among the college’s employees,” Stewart said. “We want everyone to understand how important they are to the mission of this college. We do very important work not only for the people of North Carolina, but also for citizens of the world, so it’s important that everyone see how they fit in that, no matter their position or title. It’s the contributions of every single person that make this college thrive.”

– S. Stanard