Inaugural cohort celebrates completion of UMSL Emerging Leaders Program

by | May 1, 2023

A total of 21 faculty and staff members from across campus made up the inaugural cohort and took part in four daylong retreats throughout the academic year.
Members of the inaugural cohort of the UMSL Emerging Leaders Program

Members of the inaugural cohort of the UMSL Emerging Leaders Program gathered Thursday in the Millennium Student Center to celebrate the completion of the program. A total of 21 faculty and staff members from across campus participated in the inaugural cohort. (Photo by Derik Holtmann)

There was really no need for name tags last Thursday afternoon as members of the University of Missouri–St. Louis community gathered in the Century Rooms of the Millennium Student Center for a reception celebrating the inaugural cohort of the UMSL Emerging Leaders Program.

The guests of honor – 21 faculty and staff members who made up the cohort – came from all corners of campus, but they had spent four daylong retreats getting to know and learning from each other through their participation during the past academic year.

“This is like the beginning of graduations,” said Steven J. Berberich, UMSL’s provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, as he helped mark the conclusion of their experience in the program. “I know this is a celebration, but I feel like with commencement coming, I’m starting to feel the energy.

“I want to thank you all for the time you took. Not only did you sign up to participate, but I understand you took time away from your respective duties to get together, to participate, to learn about leadership. I know each one of you now has a better appreciation for your leadership styles and those that you work with.”

Each participant underwent a DiSC Assessment to learn more about their own personality and leadership styles. They engaged in group activities and heard from a variety of speakers who shared lessons on leadership. They also underwent peer coaching and reached out to people in their orbit – supervisors, colleagues, direct reports – to do a 360 Assessment and receive anonymous feedback on how they are perceived by those around them.

It exposed them to areas of potential growth to think about and improve upon as they seek to become stronger leaders.

“It was a great program,” said Sadie Weiss, the assistant director in the Office of Precollegiate Services. “It was wonderful to be able to take the time away from my office to reflect on my own leadership capabilities and just reflect on some experiences that I’ve had that have gotten me here.”

Sherry Fantroy-Ross, the operations manager in the dean’s office in the College of Business Administration, took away important lessons about leadership.

“I would say the biggest lessons was that supervising or being a leader is day-to-day growth,” Fantroy-Ross said. “You always can learn along the way, and there’s always people that you can connect with for situations that you just haven’t experienced before. It’s been really great to be able to connect with different people.”

The experience also gave them a greater understanding and appreciation for the university more broadly.

“What we were looking for when we brought together this cohort was really that broad base of representation from all over campus,” said Alice Hall, associate provost for faculty affairs, who helped facilitate the program. “Because part of the purpose of this is to allow people to learn from each other, and so one of the things that we hope that each cohort gets out of it at the end is not only what they’ve learned from the facilitators but also kind of the depth of experience and the depth of expertise that’s on campus, so that they have a network of people to reach out to, to get more information from or to bounce ideas off.”

One of the things that makes the UMSL Emerging Leaders Program stand out from other leadership development programs offered in the University of Missouri System is that it has faculty and staff members learning side by side from each other.

“I think we’re dealing with the same problems, but the nuances are a bit different,” said Eike Bauer, an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry. “With staff members, there’s more coming and going and higher turnover. There’s a difference, but not that big.”

He appreciated getting to hear the perspectives of people in different roles across campus.

“The cohort will be around for a while, and I would hope we keep in touch and will see each other again and can draw from our experiences,” Bauer said.

Weiss, Fantroy-Ross and Bauer believe others would find value from taking part in the Emerging Leaders Program and encouraged them to apply.

Hall and Heather Floden, a senior human resources partner, are currently working to recruit the next cohort. Those interested can fill out an application here.

Hall and Floden led the first of two virtual informational open houses on Friday afternoon and have another one scheduled for 10-11 a.m. on Thursday, May 11 via Zoom.

Interested faculty and staff members can also meet with Hall and ask questions about the program during the Academic Affairs Open Office Hours from 9-10 a.m. Friday in Room 426 of Woods Hall.

The deadline to apply is May 15. Those accepted into the program will be notified this summer, and they will take part in their first retreat in September.

Steve Walentik

Steve Walentik