Empowering a Community of Excellence

Staff Fellows Program 2019-2020

University Staff have the unique opportunity to build their capacity as leaders, gain experience to grow their careers, and simultaneously work together on a campus project.

This select group of KU employees will receive leadership training, mentoring from senior administrators, and an expanded view of university initiatives while working together on a yearlong project that benefits KU. The Office of the Provost and Department of Human Resource Management jointly sponsors the program.

Staff Fellows Final Report

Staff Fellows Report

Staff Fellows – presentation:

Staff Fellows – Q&A:

2019-2020 Staff Fellows Project

Stigma and misperceptions of mental health are pervasive in today’s society. One common misperception is that mental health impacts a small number of individuals. Mental health impacts one in five people in the workforce.  Eighteen percent of the United States workforce experiences symptoms of a mental health condition on a monthly basis and almost half of Americans will experience a mental health crisis in their lifetime.

Mental health is a general term for a wide range of psychological conditions. Depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder are some examples of mental health diagnoses contained in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-IV-TR)* The World Health Organization, an organization focusing on disability and the study of, has deemed that depression is the leading cause of disability in the world. 

Society has attached stigma to mental health conditions which creates significant barriers to employees interested in seeking treatment, accommodations, and/or compassion and understanding.  Employees fear losing their jobs and collegiate relationships if they share symptoms of a mental health diagnosis. This stigma also creates significant barriers for supervisors in understanding how to best support their employees. Supervisors may be uncertain of what action is appropriate when an employee discloses a mental health condition or has a sudden change in their behavior at work.

KU is committed to removing barriers, creating a proactive inclusive culture, and ending stigma surrounding mental health.   Because of this the 2019-2020 Staff Fellows will focus on a project that identifies and examines current campus stigma, perceptions and barriers regarding mental health.  Staff Fellows will focus on six key areas: 

1. Raising awareness and ending stigma

2. Improving climate and culture 

3. Identifying gaps in resources and/or services 

4. Improving access to resources 

5. Identifying proactive campus-wide policies, and 

6. Identifying innovative ideas that promote an understanding of mental health, compassion and a sense of belonging for all Jayhawks.   

Staff Fellows will provide a summary of their findings, options considered and recommendations for campus on best practices that address each of the six key areas listed above.


* Taxonomic and diagnostic tool published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

Past Staff Fellows Projects

Staff Fellows Report

Program Structure

This professional development program provides leadership development for employees at all levels of the organization, including those without direct reports, and/or operational, group or department managers. Through this program, participants will gain familiarity with campus, engage university senior leaders, explore leadership through mentoring, assigned readings, and project work.

Participants meet for three-hour sessions during the academic year in addition to attending the KU Staff Leadership Summit. 

During the program year, participants are expected to attend all three-hour sessions and to commit time in between sessions to complete readings, meet with their mentor, and perform project-related assignments.

Lessons on project management and methodologies are drawn upon to complete the yearlong project and can be utilized in participants’ respective work environments.

The University of Kansas is committed to professional development and as a result, there is no cost to participate. 


Required Qualifications
  • Unclassified Professional Staff (UPS) and University Support Staff (USS) with two continuous years of full-time employment at KU.
  • The ability to commit to a three-hour time block twice per month along with time in between sessions to complete readings, attend mentoring and perform project work.
  • Interest and availability to work on a group project throughout the duration of the fellowship.
  • Enthusiasm for the larger mission of KU and desire to engage in that mission.
  • A history of exceptional work at the University of Kansas, as documented by a supervisor’s letter of endorsement addressing the candidate’s potential for leadership.
  • The ability to work collaboratively with a cohort of other fellows in a seminar style of learning.

Application Procedure

Interested staff should complete an application, which includes information about the candidates’ career at KU, along with completion of several short essay questions. The essay questions focus on career goals, interest in the program, suitability to the program, and overall interest in the yearlong project topic. Upon completion, candidates’ supervisors receive an email requesting support for the application.

A review committee then meets with select candidates for a short interview. Following the full review process, the committee selects a cohort of employees to participate in the program.

2019-20 Program Dates

September 27, 2019
October 11
October 25
November 8
November 22
December 6
January 10, 2020
January 24
February 7
February 21
March 6
March 20
April 3
April 24
May 8

Please contact Human Resource Management at hrdept@ku.edu or 785-864-4946 for more information about the program.

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