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Three Days of Skill Sharing

By Susan Cousins Breen

In January, 160 enthusiastic staff members gathered in the Cuniff Lecture Hall in the Science Center for the launch of the College’s first Staff Development Week (SDW). Following a welcome by President Rebecca Chopp, keynote speaker Christopher Lee—human resource practitioner, lecturer, and author—set the tone for the program telling participants, “We each need to be invested in our own professional development.”

“With the economic and financial journey the campus has undergone in the past year,” says Equal Opportunity Office Sharmaine LaMar, who led the SDW Planning Group, “Staff Development Week was something positive to focus on and a way to uplift and motivate ourselves. It was also a way for members of the staff to gain new skill sets, find an interest in a new area, and meet co-workers.

“We knew there were many people at the College who were sitting on skills and interests that they could share,” says LaMar. In all, 15 staff members and one faculty member presented on 11 topics, such as “Immunizing Your Computer in Today’s Online World,” “Laughing and Crying: Short Stories of the Working Life,” “Nine Hot Communication Skills,” and “What Do You Really Want from Others?”

“My personal favorite was ‘Tweet That: The Age of Social Networking Sites,’” says LaMar, “but, overall, the most popular sessions were ‘One-Pot Meals,’ ‘Relax Your Neck and Shoulders, and ‘I Didn’t Know I Could Do That in Excel.’”

An Employee Showcase, a highlight of the week, displayed the interests and hobbies of 14 staff members in the Science Center Coffee Bar. Coordinated by Jeff Lott, editor of the Swarthmore College Bulletin, and Robin Shores, director of institutional research, the show included documentary photography; felting, knitting, and crocheting; astronomy; volunteering at Pals for Life, an animal-companion program, and a cat adoption center; pottery; a singer and a poet’s work; miniatures; and woodworking.

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