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SUNY Plattsburgh Creates Leadership Academy to Develop, Train Supervisors

A special series of workshops designed to develop and train supervisors is being offered to employees this spring at SUNY Plattsburgh, part of a cooperative effort of the college administration and United University Professions to create a sustainable leadership training system for the campus.

The new Leadership Academy, starting this spring as a pilot program, was created through a UUP grant of joint labor-management funds and other in-kind contributions.

Conversations about employee retention and a need to continually nurture new leaders fostered the creation of the academy. A lack of training can negatively affect both the performance of supervisors and the employees they manage.

"This idea emerged in response to the campus need for a system for professional development to meet the ongoing challenges faced by supervisors," said Sue Welch, assistant vice president for human resource services.

Several topics were identified as needs on campus, including interpersonal skills, dealing with difficult employees, managing and resolving conflict, mentoring, motivating employees, constructive criticism, leading change, and leadership skills discussion based on a 360-degree evaluation.

"Leadership and management is a skill set that is developed through training, practice, and experience," said George Still, UUP vice president for professionals and the assessment/data manager for the School of Education, Health and Human Services. "Many supervisors, whether they are professionals, academics or management personnel, do not receive training in management prior to their acceptance of a leadership position. This places many of our campus leaders in situations where they do not have the skills necessary to be successful."

SUNY Plattsburgh plans to conduct five to eight training sessions a year in the future, with alterations based on the evaluation of the spring pilot program. Currently, there are 135 UUP members who are supervisors and 19 management confidential employees who supervise UUP employees.

Workshop details are being finalized. Sessions will be held midday on Fridays, include lunch, and will run from March 27 through May 8.

Mary Ann Stark of the SUNY Leadership Institute trained SUNY Plattsburgh employee volunteers over winter break. Volunteer facilitators for spring include:

Richard Aberle, adjunct lecturer, English

Cristian Balan, adjunct lecturer, management, information systems and analytics

Bill Circelli, assistant director, facilities, maintenance and operations

Sarah Cunningham, Web editor for academics, library and information technology services

Sean Dermody, assistant to vice president for administration

Dr. Freda Ginsberg, assistant professor, counselor education

Dr. JeanAnn Hunt, associate professor, teacher education 

Catherine Kaleita, senior environmental health and safety associate, environmental health and safety

Robert Karp, director, institutional effectiveness 

Karin Killough, director, Clark Learning Center

Richard Larche, capital project manager, capital planning and construction

Dr. Kerri Piemme, assistant professor, educational leadership

Sarah Reyell, assistant director/health benefits administrator, human resource services

George Still, assessment/data manager, School of Education, Health and Human Services

Sue Welch, assistant vice president, human resource services

United University Professions is the union representing more than 35,000 academic and professional faculty on 29 State University of New York campuses, including SUNY Plattsburgh. It is affiliated with New York State United Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.

SUNY Leadership Institute serves the State University of New York system through innovative programming to assess and enhance leadership skills. It provides expertise on leadership development that successfully prepares SUNY leaders for broader roles and greater responsibility within the system. 

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