Clark State president launches new mentoring program for employees

Clark State has started a new mentoring program for employees. Katherine Collins/Staff
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Clark State has started a new mentoring program for employees. Katherine Collins/Staff

Clark State Community College is set to launch a new mentoring program led by President Jo Alice Blondin.

SOAR — Serving Our Own through Leadership and Retention — aims to develop and create leaders who are committed to serving Clark State and focusing on student success.

“It was important to start the program because in higher education there are so few opportunities for structured mentoring to facilitate career development,” Blondin said. “So I decided to start our own at Clark State. Seeing so much talent, I wanted to make sure that our faculty and staff had an opportunity to grow.”

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The mentoring program will be a professional development experience for full-time faculty and staff members and will provide self-assessment, leadership strengths building and career development planning.

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 members applied for the SOAR program, but only six could be accepted.

“Dr. Blondin wanted to give as much personal attention as possible,” said Laurie Means, director of marketing at Clark State.

Blondin stressed, though, that each applicant was worthy. She has met with the supervisors of those applicants in hopes of encouraging an even stronger application next year because Blondin intends to make this an annual program.

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The three faculty and three staff members will receive a 1 percent increase in base salary at the successful completion of the program, special recognition at Charter Night and a well-developed career/mentoring plan.

Nathan Walters is director of client support and has been with Clark State for two years. He applied to the program because he enjoys being involved at work and wants to learn about how things work at a higher level at the community college.

“I want to learn about how the college runs at the executive and legislative levels,” he said.

John Minter, a customer service specialist in the Financial Aid Office, has been a Clark State employee for eight years. He hopes that the initial mentoring group that he’s a part of will set the bar high for future programs.

“The opportunity to work with the president of the college and her team will be a valuable experience,” he said. “To learn from the top will go a long way to help me with my duties around the campus.”

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Those selected for the SOAR program will be mentored for one year. To participate, staff and faculty must be at the director level or below. Mentoring will officially begin in August.

“This is a very intentional effort to continue to develop the staff and faculty to ensure students’ success for many years to come,” Blondin said.

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