Staff Swap: Exchange Program Offers Overseas Opportunities for Mason Employees

Posted: August 11, 2014 at 3:33 pm, Last Updated: August 12, 2014 at 9:48 am

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By Sudha Kamath

Jennifer Smith Hamilton of University Libraries is shocked when she learns from Rita Rowand of the Office of Global Strategy that Hamilton is a winner in the international staff exchange. Photo by Alexis Glenn.

From left, Jennifer Smith Hamilton of University Libraries is shocked when she hears from Rita Rowand of the Office of Global Strategy that she is a winner in the international staff exchange. Photo by Alexis Glenn.

What starts as another day at work ends with quite a surprise, as two George Mason University employees learn they are the latest winners of George Mason’s Global Professional Staff Exchange Program.

Jennifer Smith Hamilton and Cheryl Welch were given the good news Aug. 8 at Fenwick Library and Aug. 10 at Thompson Hall, respectively, by Rita Rowand of Mason’s Office of Global Strategy and Stephanie Zeher of the Staff Senate. Hamilton and Welch will expand their world view, professional development and global higher education knowledge by working abroad for a week.

Hamilton, who joined University Libraries about seven years ago, exclaimed “I can’t believe it!” when she was told she will be a guest of the University of Basel in Switzerland this fall. She’ll visit administrative departments and, especially, the library—which Hamilton found out is one of the oldest and largest in Switzerland.

The Alexandria, Va., resident is working on a master’s degree in library science. “I’m excited about discovering how a foreign research library strives to offer cutting-edge services to students, faculty and staff, as well as to the municipal area,” she says.

Cheryl Welch holds the Mason Songdo brochure as she learns from the Office of Global Strategy, Staff Senate and her co-workers that she’s heading to Korea next spring. Photo by Sudha Kamath.

Cheryl Welch holds the Mason Songdo brochure as she learns from the Office of Global Strategy, Staff Senate and her co-workers that she’s heading to Korea next spring. Photo by Sudha Kamath.

Welch has been a support manager in the College of Education and Human Development for more than a year. Previously, she worked in Mason’s School of Business for six years. Welch will visit Mason’s new Songdo, Korea, Campus next spring in what will be her first trip abroad.

“I’m in total shock,” says the Dumfries, Va., resident. “The Mason Korea relationship looks very interesting. I’m eager to learn about education in other parts of the world.”

The Staff Exchange Program is open to classified employees who have worked at Mason for at least two years. Applications are accepted from March through June. This year, the Staff Senate’s global committee narrowed the list of applicants to five finalists. Then the global strategy office chose Hamilton and Welch. “We had a hard time selecting just two winners, but we believe we have found just the right ones for these experiences,” says Rowand.

Next month, Olivia Poisson from the University of Basel will be hosted by Mason’s Office of Global Strategy and other administrative offices on Mason’s Fairfax Campus.

Rowand created the Staff Exchange Program in 2013. “It aligns so well with our strategic plan’s goal to be a global learning platform,” she says. “I hope that through these experiences, our award recipients can be more effective at their work and approach it with a global mindset to expand their respective departments’ global reach.”

“It’s an amazing opportunity for the Mason staffers to see a part of the world they may not have otherwise,” says Zeher.

Write to Sudha Kamath at skamath@gmu.edu

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