Every Wednesday, the seven Academic Support Resources (ASR) directors meet to update each other on pending issues and collaborate on upcoming and ongoing projects.
The ASR Manager's Meeting is meant to keep each director from the six units and Sue Van Voorhis, director of ASR and University registrar, informed of what is happening in ASR. They meet for two hours every week, except for the last week of the quarter when they meet for four hours to strategize a plan of action on upcoming projects or talk more in-depth about the strategic direction of ASR.
When examining current and upcoming projects, the Directors keep in mind ASR's mission of making a positive difference in students' lives.
"This helps focus resources on those initiatives or changes that have the greatest impact on our students," said Tina Falkner, director of Continuity and Compliance. "For example, the changes in the Graduate School have afforded us the opportunity to focus more energy on articulating how proposed projects and process changes have an impact on graduate and professional students."
Much of the discussion in their meetings revolves around shared projects that affect multiple, if not all, units in ASR. The projects may be mandated, recurring, or simply a way to make a process more efficient and up-to-date.
"A lot of projects are given to us and we find solutions, like the PeopleSoft 9.0 upgrade or the Graduate School Transition," said Kris Wright, director of the Office of Student Finance (OSF).
Grant Clavelle, director of ASR's information technology unit, (ASR-IT) also cites the information technology job family study and policy effectiveness discussions as mandated projects.
Some projects are recurring. For example, each quarter the directors review and prioritize the pending technology projects that require central resources from the Office of Information Technology (OIT).
Each director has a long list of projects he or she would like completed for their unit. Oftentimes, they have more than 70 projects in the hopper. To determine which one to start on, the directors focus on the potential impact each project has on students, staff, and faculty.
"We look at how to help students and make our processes more efficient for all that are affected," Julie Selander said, interim director of One Stop Student Services.
One of the primary challenges the directors face in collaborating on current projects is fairly universal throughout ASR: limited resources, especially staffing and time. Because there are so many projects, prioritization becomes a critical aspect of these meetings.
The projects that have the greatest impact across ASR and provide the greatest benefit to students get the most attention. Solutions to the projects are reached through constructive conversation. As the leader of ASR, Sue is in the tough position to make the final decision if there is no consensus, though an agreement is almost always reached.
"We almost always come to an agreement by using ASR's mission, vision, and values to guide our decision making," said Sue. "These were created in collaboration with staff. We think about how to best benefit students, faculty, and staff."
In addition to using the mission, vision, and values, employee surveys are done frequently to get more direct feedback and ensure staff input on future ASR directions.
"We're not just sitting in a room making these decisions. We want staff's input," said Jeremy Todd, director of the Office of Classroom Management.
Fun facts about the ASR Directors
Sue Van Voorhis, ASR
As a higher education professional who has spent 25 years in the sector, Sue possesses leadership skills utilized in various practices: as a processor, an information technology practitioner, and a university director.
Sue's leadership skills have been prominent since the first grade. She ran for class president and was elected on the platform that on Friday afternoons, students should be allowed to sit wherever they want in class. Sue's leadership skills may also stem from some political genetics; her mother was a state senator, her third cousin, David Durenberger, is a former U.S. Senator from Minnesota, and her cousin, Collin Peterson, is the U.S. Representative for Minnesota's 7th congressional district. Sue enjoys a challenge and always wants people to feel gratified in their work.
Jeremy Todd, Office of Classroom Management (OCM)
Jeremy received his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University. He joined ASR in 2002, coming from an engineering position in Facilities Management (FM). He believes we have made great strides as an institution and firmly believes in our mission to make a positive difference in students' lives.
Jeremy's favorite experience working at the University happened in 2007 when the pilot Active Learning Classrooms (ALC) were installed. He visited the Keller Hall ALC during a two-hour break between scheduled courses. Expecting the room to be empty, Jeremy was surprised to find the room near capacity with groups of students collaborating together while using the technology and room features.
A fun fact about Jeremy: he doesn't drink coffee, but has a slight addiction to Coca-Cola.
Kris Wright, OSF
Kris is an experienced operations manager and project manager with more than 25 years of experience managing and improving automated and manual accounting processes and financial systems. Previously, she worked for the United States Postal Service in accounting and operations. Kris joined ASR in 2001 as an Associate Director in OSF. She became the Director in 2002.
She has two dogs: an 8-year-old golden retriever, Sparky, and a 2-year-old chocolate lab, Moose. She enjoys a broad range of books from science fiction to musical instruments. She is also an avid gardener and was a master gardener for five years. Kris has been to every continent except Antarctica, but hopes to go there one day.
Grant Clavelle, ASR-OIT
Grant has been the director of ASR-OIT since 2006. Previously, Grant worked in FM, assisting with selecting, implementing, and supporting their major business system, COMPASS. Grant has always worked in the computer industry since his first job out of school selling computers.
Grant was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He moved to the U.S. in 1984 and became a U.S. citizen in 1999. He is a dual American/Canadian citizen. He enjoys sports, walking, reading, vegetable gardening, and traveling. He currently lives in Champlin with his wife as an empty nester. He has two sons, one working in Phoenix and the other attending school at St. John's University.
Julie Selander, One Stop Student Services
Julie received her bachelor's and master's degree from the University. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the higher education policy and administration program. She passed her preliminary oral exam last year and now needs to research/write her dissertation.
Julie has worked at the University for 12 years and has been the interim director for One Stop Student Services since May 2011. Previously, she was the Senior Associate Director for One Stop and the Associate Director for Student Accounts Receivable. Julie has also been an adjunct faculty member in the College of Education and Human Development for two years where she teaches customer service training for business and marketing education students.
Other than work, Julie and her husband, Steven, have two kids: Spencer, 10, and Emma, 8. Julie enjoys scrapbooking, playing tennis, and traveling.
Tina Falkner, Continuity and Compliance
Tina has her bachelor's degree from Northwestern University. She received her master's and Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Administration from the University. Tina and her husband live in a house built in 1906 and, as an avid "do-it-yourselfer," there is no end to her house projects. When not working inside the house, she works in her gardens or plays golf. Her earliest memory of television is the Muppet Show, which she is still known to watch on occasion.
Frank Blalark, Office of the Registrar (OTR)
Frank grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada and was active in football, track, and wrestling. His dad was an all-American wrestler. With a football scholarship, he attended college in South Dakota and obtained a degree in history and education. Frank is also a doctoral student in the educational policy and administration program in the College of Education and Human Development.