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Blinn celebrates inaugural FutureWorks Academy graduating class

Program’s 20 participants launch new initiatives, strengthen culture of strategic thinking

November 2015

FutureWorksBlinn College’s first FutureWorks Academy class celebrated a successful year Friday after nine months of concentrated leadership development.

FutureWorks Academy was created to develop a shared vision for Blinn’s future and foster a culture of trust, creativity and strategic thinking. Through a competitive selection process, 20 individuals were chosen to participate in the inaugural class, which launched in February with a weekend retreat at Camp Allen in Navasota.

The class met monthly to learn from speakers, evaluate Blinn’s strengths and weaknesses and design programs that they believed would advance Blinn’s mission. By graduation, participants presented six projects to administrators for feedback, consideration and possible implementation.

These projects include:

  • Academic Success Coaches, led by Essie Childers, Humanities professor
  • Early Drops & Retention Survey, led by Pam Brush, Financial Aid advisor
  • Lifelong Learning, led by Tasha Burleson, Visual/Performing Arts & Kinesiology professor
  • Veteran Recognition, led by Warren Parker, Health Sciences professor
  • Mentor Training, led by Theresa Wahrmund, TEACH Program director
  • Mental Health First Aid Training, led by Linda Jones, Social Sciences professor

“People from both the faculty side and the staff side got to know each other on a very deep level,” said Joyce Langenegger, director of Professional Development. “The programs the class proposed and supported show FutureWorks Fellows’ focus, first and foremost, is on students.”

Wahrmund’s mentor training project has been approved by Blinn’s Executive Council and is set to launch in January. Before joining the Academy, Wahrmund envisioned a training program that would equip veteran faculty to act as mentors for new faculty. She was unaware that this project was already a topic of discussion among the Academic Standards Committee.

“This could not have happened without FutureWorks,” Wahrmund said. “Through FutureWorks, we were able to solidify the project and decide what shape it would take. This Academy is so important because it enables everyone to be a leader. You can move the College forward from wherever you are, in whichever department you work.”

Wahrmund will lead the first three-hour mentor training Jan. 8 in Bryan.

Brush’s Early Drops & Retention Survey project proposes that students complete a simple, online survey before they are able to officially drop a class online. Students would be prompted to seek counsel from an advisor or professor before they make a quick decision that could impact their future.

“I think this is a really simple way to help our students, and keep them in school,” said Brush, who is continuing to collect data and polish her project.

“I really had no idea of the benefits that would come from FutureWorks,” she said. “Our conversations and experiences knit the group together. That’s what builds success—compassion for each other and a shared vision.”

Applications for FutureWorks Academy’s second class will open in the Spring, with class activities beginning September 2016 and concluding April 2017.

“You can lead from any chair in the room,” Langenegger said. “FutureWorks was not designed to train employees for their next job in the organization, but to show them how they can get their ideas advanced no matter where they are.”

Class I members include: Pam Brush, Tasha Burleson, Essie Childers, Brooke Conrad, Smily Flores, Victoria Fowler, Anna Hall, Tina Holzer, Linda Jones, Andi Liner, Erin Luza, Michelle McGehee, Kyle Merten, Jayson Naiser, Warren Parker, Nilsa Perez-Cabrera, Michael Smith, Theresa Wahrmund, Benjamin M. White and Gwendolyn Hope Wilkinson.