Clark State Community College will launch SOAR – Serving Our Own through Leadership and Retention – under the guidance of Clark State President Dr. Jo Alice Blondin this fall.
“This program was developed in order to facilitate mentoring of faculty and staff on campus and assist them in identifying current and future leadership opportunities that would result in personal and professional growth,” said Blondin.
The goal of the SOAR program is to develop and create leaders who are committed to serving Clark State as partners in student success. SOAR is a comprehensive professional development experience for full-time faculty and staff that provides self-assessment, leadership strengths building, mentoring and career development planning, thereby leading to stronger, more prepared leaders who will enhance Clark State’s focus on student success.
Additionally, the program will focus on developing leaders at the individual, team and system levels as well as empowering co-workers of participants to become “implementers of change” at all campus levels.
Blondin led a similar program - the Chancellor’s Leadership Cabinet - at Arkansas Tech University-Ozark to mentor student leaders. More than 20 Clark State faculty and staff applied for the SOAR program opportunity.
“Selecting these six individuals was one of the hardest decisions I made this year, because there were so many excellent applicants,” said Blondin. “I wanted to ensure a balance of disciplines, departments, length of service, diversity and need for growth in their current positions.”
Selected participants – three faculty members and three staff members - must attend all meetings and events, and complete all program requirements. Each will receive a one percent increase in base salary (in addition to any annual salary adjustments) at the successful completion of the program, special recognition at Charter Night and a well- developed career/mentoring plan.
Kara Jackson has been an assistant professor in the Registered Nursing program at Clark State since 2010. She is honored to have been selected for the SOAR program and is looking forward to working with Dr. Blondin.
“I applied for the SOAR program to be a stronger leader and faculty member and to make a difference,” she said. “I hope to be a stronger leader for the school and the nursing program.”
Director of Client Support Nathanial Walters has been with Clark State for two years. He applied for the SOAR program for the opportunity to become more involved at the college.
He’s looking forward to learning more about how the college runs at the executive and legislative level. “It’s an absolute honor to be selected for the inaugural year of this program,” he said.
Naureen Qasim has been with Clark State for 10 years as an associate professor anatomy and physiology. “I believe in everything SOAR stands for, I want to improve doing what I do every day,” she said. Qasim is looking forward to getting to know her colleagues better and “being a part of something bigger.”
Therese Filicko will be a Clark State associate professor when the fall term starts, marking her fifth year with Clark State. “I applied for the SOAR program because I believe the program will help me focus on my professional development as a member of the faculty at Clark State, and it will give me an opportunity to strengthen relationships with other faculty and staff at Clark State,” she said.
Filicko hopes to learn how to can better contribute to the success of students at Clark State and the larger community, both through developing her own areas of interest and through the conversations with colleagues in the program.
“I'm looking forward to getting to know this small group better; I'm looking forward to seeing what Dr. Blondin will share with us,” Filicko said. “I'm looking forward to devoting time and energy to my own professional development.”
As customer service specialist with Clark State’s Financial Aid Office, John Minter began his employment with Clark State in 2009. He applied for the SOAR program to have the opportunity to learn from the president of Clark State. Minter said he’s hoping to experience what it’s like to mentor with someone who has accomplished so much and provided great leadership. “I would also like for this initial group of SOAR participants to set the bar high in what I hope will be a continuing opportunity for others annually,” he said.
Charmaine Misick, administrative assistant to the dean of Business and Applied Technologies, has been with Clark State for more than five years. She applied for the SOAR program for the opportunity to advance and grow. “I would like to learn more about leadership in academia and how to break out of my comfort zone in order to be more successful,” she said. “I am honored to participate in this program, and I look forward to using what I will learn and applying it in my current as well as future positions.”
Those selected for the SOAR program will be mentored for one year. To participate, staff and faculty must be at the director level and below. Mentoring will officially begin in August 2017.
“My goal is their goal, I hope,” said Blondin. “To chart a clear path for their future growth in their current and in future positions.”