What training courses are UNF staff and faculty taking?

Hayley Simonson, Managing Editor

The University of North Florida encourages its faculty and staff to become lifelong learners by participating in the university’s Center for Professional Development and Training (CPDT). However, participation is voluntary and unless a training falls under The Clery Act, or is mandated by some outside institution, taking a course is not necessarily required. So, who is actually taking these courses and how far do they reach up the chain of command? 

The CPDT was established at UNF in July 2003 in an effort to provide professional development and training initiatives combined with institutional goals through collaborative efforts with other departments. The mission, according to the CPDT’s mission statement, is: 

“ …to provide learning opportunities to University employees to develop the knowledge and skills needed to perform in their diverse roles of serving students and supporting the learning process…”

Kelly Harrison is the Director of the Center for Professional Development Training at UNF. 

“What we try to do here for staff and faculty is provide training that allows them to get a little bit better, or to understand their responsibilities in the workplace a little bit better,” he said. 

Harrison explained that the university wants employees to be able to get credit for the training they attend and will use a system to account not only for registration but participation. Having an effective system that keeps track of participation is useful when compliance courses come up, such as those that fall under a Board of Governors or Federal mandate.

Harrison said that the training offered is available to everybody who wants to participate. 

“There are very few courses out there that are considered mandatory for people to take. Mostly when they fall into that category, it’s based on their position or it’s either based on some kind of mandate from a state or federal entity or required for a certification or something,” Harrison said. “There’s not a lot of classes here on campus that are considered mandatory right now.” 

A recent example of a mandatory training was the Kognito: at risk for University and College Faculty and Staff. Harrison said that this was mandated by the Board of Governors and was one of the farthest-reaching courses in terms of compliance that UNF has had. 

Sheila Spivey oversees the Cultural Competency Program (CCP) at UNF. 

“Our CCP is comprised of eight different courses, and the primary purpose of the CCP pursuit is to provide opportunities for faculty and staff to learn more about different cultures.”

The eight courses offered include a foundational course called “Cultural Competency 101” that provides a broad overview of culture terminology to help participants learn how to define and use diverse language.  

Six courses focus on social identities. These include courses on Worldview/ Religion, Safe Space (LGBTQ+), Gender Inclusion, Military and Veteran Identity, Race and Ethnicity, and Dis/Ability

Spivey explained that the final course is a Cultural Competency Pursuit Capstone for everyone who has completed the previous seven courses mentioned. This capstone engages participants in ways in which they can continue on with their growth and also looks at how they have implemented information thus far. 

The courses are taught by staff within the Department of Diversity Initiatives (DDI)  in partnership with other staff in other departments throughout campus. For example, Safe Space is facilitated by staff members in the DDI as well as staff members within the LGBTQ+ center on campus. 

Spivey said that these courses are currently optional and not required for faculty and staff to take. She also said that she is not aware of policies that require staff to take the courses, however, an anti-racism educational course is required for all students to take that the president put in place. 

“I think it’s important that everyone should have a basic understanding of equity, diversity, and inclusion and providing some foundation information for everyone is extremely important, whether it be CCP, or some other opportunity that’s available,” according to Spivey.

Spinnaker put in an information request asking for all the training that President Szymanski and Provost Patterson have completed in the last few years.

Szymanski and Patterson have not taken the following CCP courses: Dis/Ability, Gender Inclusion, Military/Veteran, Race and Ethnicity, or the Cultural Competency Pursuit Capstone. However, according to the university, they plan to take them this year in 2021. 

In the year 2020, President Szymanski completed the Cultural Competency Pursuit 101 course, Religion in World Views, and Kognito: at risk for University and College Faculty and Staff. In 2021, he completed the Safe Space (LQBTQ+) course. 

In 2019, Provost Patterson completed a Statement of Ethical Conduct Workshop, Office of Equal Opportunity & Inclusion Complaint and Investigation Procedures, and Kognito: at risk for University and College Faculty and Staff. In 2020, she completed the UNF COVID-19 Education Program, Recognizing Implicit Bias, Unpacking Bias: Racial, Ethnic and Cultural Biases and Best Practices, Religion and Worldviews, and the Cultural Competency Pursuit 101 course. In 2021, she completed the Safe Space (LQBTQ+) course. 

Spreadsheet of courses taken by President Szymanski, Provost Patterson and years completed. Courtesy of the university.


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