Introducing Stephanie Treat
Meet Stephanie Treat who has worked at the Language Center since 1998. Her current job title is Administrator and CourseShare Specialist but what does he/she/they really do? In this interview, Stephanie highlights major aspects of his/her/their work and shares how he/she/they can help you tackle your next project. This is part of the Language Center Staff Spotlight Series.
Which parts of your current job description should ElsieTalk readers know about? Are there specific services or expertise you offer that readers could take advantage of more than they currently do?
Students, instructors and advisors: I am always happy to talk about CourseShare and other opportunities for language and culture exchange. Please come to me with your dream of learning Luxembourgish or Jamaican Patois, or your desire to share a language we’ve never shared before, or propose a brand new type of exchange. I cannot guarantee success, but I follow up on every request. Sometimes, a request goes nowhere at the time, but later on, the situation changes, and something that seemed impossible at the time is suddenly possible. In addition to supporting Big Ten CourseShare, I also assist with an intersystem exchange between the Twin Cities and Morris. I am always open to discussing new partnership ideas. Students and advisors can request a new language or level by submitting a request or emailing the Language Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or my personal account at email@example.com. Instructors can reach out to me in the method they prefer. Now is a great time to inquire about the possibilities for Summer or Fall 2022.
Can you briefly describe 2-3 projects you've worked on in the past year?
As long as we’ve had ElsieTalk, I’ve been part of the core team, and until recently was the primary person responsible for the weekly issues. During the recent period of remote learning, the Language Center prioritized ElsieTalk as a method of external communication, and we had a goal of sending out an issue every week – even over breaks and summer – and we achieved that goal. Now that Diane Rackowski has retired, we have shifted some communication roles in our unit. Carter Griffith is now the team lead for ElsieTalk, and I am the lead for the Language Center website. The site remains a work in progress, but we have a dedicated core team, and are receiving tremendous support from CLA Media. We welcome suggestions for improvement. Keep checking back!
This summer Jonathan Prestrud and I collaborated with Christopher Stordalen from LATIS on a new room reservation system using the project management software Asana. The goals of the new systems were a simpler and more flexible request form for our users, and a completely remote and collaborative process for our staff. This has been one of the most successful transitions I’ve been a part of, and I’ve become an Asana enthusiast, so please ask me about the tool! The Language Center is also working on a new equipment reservation system (not in Asana), and this project has been slower to actualize. Stay tuned though, it is coming!
What skills and competencies do you bring to your current job from your educational background, positions you have previously held in the Language Center, or from work and relationships with other units at this/other institutions?
I started as a graduate student. I graduated from the University of Florida and moved to Minneapolis to join the University of Minnesota CLA ESL-MA program. At the same time, I began taking upper-division French courses and beginning Russian at the university. The Language Center was only my second position on campus. I have been fortunate to work with many exceptional colleagues over the years, including then Director Jenise Rowekamp who noticed that unlike some graduate students, I actually seemed to enjoy administrative work. My position at the Language Center eventually became full time, and that was one of the many reasons that my progress towards my degree was painfully slow. However, with the support of Jenise, my advisor Elaine Tarone and many others, I finally graduated. While I have occasionally taught ESL and remain interested in language and culture, my focus has remained in the academic administrative world.
I am fortunate that my responsibilities at the Language Center have changed many times, which has kept things fresh and interesting. Essentially, I view myself as an administrator plus, meaning that I serve as the administrator for the unit, and also hold a second role. My former roles have included accountant, K-12 outreach event planner, and sponsored project administrator. My current role as CourseShare Specialist is a joy, because I get to help students achieve their personal and professional goals by helping them gain access to the languages they need. I am also able to collaborate with instructors and administrators throughout the Big Ten. I enjoy working with colleagues around the country (or at least parts of the midwest and northeastern side of the country) and the opportunity to learn and share.
What is an example of a project or request that falls outside the scope of your job? To whom would you refer people with such a request?
The University of Minnesota is a large and diverse institution. The scope of my job includes only a minute sliver of campus activity. The Language Center supports language instructors and students in many ways, but we are not alone – we have a multitude of partners on campus, and we are not the best resource for every request. My advice is that if you have a question or idea, don’t worry so much about getting your first contact right. The important thing is to reach out. Chances are there is someone at the university who can help you. The Language Center email account firstname.lastname@example.org serves as a semi-official email account for broad questions about languages at the university. Jonathan Prestrud and I monitor the account daily, and responding to and redirecting email is one of the most important things we do.