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Staff Engagement Progress

Dear Colleagues,

We would like to thank you, the staff of Northwestern, for all you do to advance the University’s mission of excellent teaching, innovative research and the personal and intellectual growth of our students in a diverse academic community.

The staff engagement survey of 2017 provided invaluable insights, which have continued to drive change across the University. Following are a few highlights we would like to bring to your attention, with many more examples on the Staff Engagement website.

Career Development

We are providing more tools and training to help staff navigate employment opportunities across the University. Toward this end, the Northwestern University Staff Advisory Council (NUSAC) and Human Resources partnered on a Growing Your Careersymposium in July on the Chicago and Evanston campuses for more than 400 staff members. In addition to future career symposia, we plan to expand efforts through additional in-person and online programs.

Nurturing Leaders

We have launched Manager Foundations, an innovative five-day program for new managers, helping equip them with clear expectations of their roles and providing tools and training to support their teams. This immersive program contains interactive case-based learning, group activity and mentoring. It was piloted in July, with nearly 200 new managers scheduled to participate in FY 2020. Our hope is that all new managers will benefit from this program in the future.

Diversity and Inclusion

The creation of a diverse and welcoming environment is crucial to our work. We are improving hiring practices to draw a wider range of candidates for employment. We also are rolling out a new set of diversity, equity and inclusion training programs that will be available to more than 500 staff members in FY 2020. This includes immersive and reflective workshops on unconscious bias and active inclusion for teams, as well as an online library of resources for both individuals and teams.


Staff engagement also is driven by experiencing well-being at and outside of work. We seek to address the physical, financial and emotional health of Northwestern employees through an array of services. These include caregiving support for family members, counseling, retirement consultations, life coaching and more. You can explore dozens of such programs in our HR website’s well-being section.

School and Unit Initiatives

We are particularly grateful to our schools and administrative units for undertaking more than 100 initiatives to enhance the staff experience. A number of them have implemented clearer mechanisms for internal job postings and networking, enhanced their recognition programs, improved work processes through internal best-practice sharing and expanded their community-building efforts. To highlight a few examples, Feinberg launched a “Manager Mentoring Program” pairing managers with other managers for a year of support and quarterly learning events; Medill has begun supporting internal networking and mentoring through a program called “It’s Only Coffee”; Alumni Relations and Development launched “Curious ’Cat,” a job-shadowing program; Kellogg is now highlighting various departments and careers across the University through quarterly “Spotlight Series” presentations; the School of Professional Studies, Safety & Security and Weinberg have been cultivating professional growth through reorganizing roles to create new career paths; and Information Technology introduced a custom leadership training program for its manager and directors, while also partnering with Human Resources to pilot unconscious bias training designed to enhance awareness and support a diverse, equitable and inclusive campus.

Please continue to reach out, to ask questions, and offer input. You can contact Samir Desai in Human Resources for more information on Staff Engagement initiatives, or Evelyn Cordero, wellness coordinator in Human Resources, for more information on well-being programs. If you would like to be involved with initiatives in your school or unit, please contact your administrative leader.

Northwestern is increasingly viewed as one of the world’s most productive and influential research universities. This could not have been possible without your dedication. As the University continues to move forward, we will make every effort to work with you to maximize the experience for all staff across our campuses.