In 2019, the Presidential Task Force for staff professional development proposed a staff mentor program to cultivate a university-wide mentoring culture. This summer, university Human Resources launched the UGA Staff Mentor Program pilot, and the opportunity is generating strong interest.
“UGA is demonstrating its commitment to staff learning and growth through the Engage & Learn initiative, and watching staff members invest in each other through sharing stories, advice and support has been truly inspirational,” said Emily Saunders, university HR senior manager and UGA Staff Mentor Program administrator.
The UGA Staff Mentor Program provides staff with an opportunity to focus on their personal and professional development and learn from a group of colleagues across campus. Following a group mentoring model, one mentor and five to seven mentees will meet throughout a 12-week cycle. Program participants will learn about themselves, each other and the university as they participate in discussions focused on career and personal development topics.
“I have found that the Staff Mentor Program is a great way to connect with other colleagues around campus. I quickly realized that UGA has a lot of amazing people working here,” said Brian Williams, associate director of student affairs and mentor.
Serving as a mentor provides staff with a unique opportunity to share knowledge and reinforce a culture where all university community members are encouraged to learn and grow. In addition, mentors will gain leadership skills as they practice facilitating group discussions, helping their colleagues identify goals and resources, and coaching them through challenges.
“The UGA Staff Mentor Program is a great way to make connections and network with other staff from all over the University of Georgia. Mentors and mentees learn from each other’s experiences, about their units, and how their unit contributes overall to the university’s mission. It is a means to make continuing relationships with staff you would not ordinarily connect with,” said Melanie Crawford, EITS application analyst specialist and mentor.
All UGA staff members are eligible to participate, and individuals with at least two years’ experience at UGA can lead Mentor Circles, regardless of career stage. Saunders hopes that staff will think about what they have to offer, and learn, by participating in this program.
“We will provide materials and support throughout the entirety of the program so that all participants have what they need to make the most of the learning experience,” she said.
“Having a few personal mentors, myself, I’ve tried to focus on how each individual can grow personally; no two paths are the same. I stress the importance of being a good leader and putting yourself out there. The mentorship program has allowed me to do just that. It has been rewarding to be part of the first group to serve as a mentor,” said Savannah Hembree, UGA Staff Council president and mentor.