January 25, 2013
Marjorie Ellis is on a mission to help students, faculty and staff understand how plans for life after college begin the moment someone enrolls at Baylor.
Ellis stepped into the new position of executive director of career and professional development (CPD) in November. The position goes along with the reorganization and renaming of the office, which is a vital part of the Paul L. Foster Success Center.
"We want to re-focus, re-energize, re-connect this area with students and faculty," she said. "We want the Baylor family to recognize the need to think about career and professional development as an ongoing process, from freshman year onward. To re-use a phrase, it takes a university to prepare students for work beyond the campus."
To help graduates be more successful in their fields, Ellis said she wants to bring faculty and staff to the table to help students understand they need more than a "fill-in-the-blanks" résumé template.
"We are ready to seek and support partnerships with the faculty. We want to work with professors across all disciplines and think outside the box," she said. "Our role is evolving into more action-oriented partnerships with faculty, coaches, staff, everyone. We cannot just say to the student 'you need to network' and assume that they know what that is. We have to teach them what that means and how to do it."
Students need to understand they need an edge to land that first position out of college or to continue on with post-graduate studies, Ellis said. "It isn't just about academic rigor, but also about transforming students into polished professionals who are ready for a career beyond the classroom. We want students who graduate from Baylor to have that little extra something. They know how to be students, but employers expect them to be more mature and savvy, with leadership skills and initiative."
Ellis wants to be sure CPD is effectively using and showing students how to navigate appropriate technologies in the career search and for professional development. "There is so much to consider with an ever-changing marketplace. We have to stay on top of it in order to effectively connect with students and employers, and Baylor is ready to take the next steps in this area," she said.
Ellis said she is excited to join Baylor at this time. She said it was "like divine intervention" when Baylor posted the new position. "This is what I believe in. I was already working on implementing these same emphases where I was (Appalachian State University). When I came to interview, I had no nagging doubts or concerns. It felt natural."
Executive Vice President and Provost Elizabeth Davis noted the reorganization of the CPD is a great fit with Baylor's vision.
"As articulated in Pro Futuris, we aspire to be known as a community recognized for transformational education. This type of education consists of academic excellence, student engagement, and leadership development. One of the ways we expect to accomplish this aspiration is to build a robust and coordinated set of activities and programs that help all students navigate the path from matriculation to their initial and future vocations," Davis said. "The Office of Career and Professional Development is designed to do just that. As soon as students set foot on the Baylor campus, we will partner with them to put together an intentionally designed combination of experiences and courses that will contribute to a transformational education. Ultimately, this type of education will prepare students for graduate school, post-graduate fellowships, and/or employment."
Wes Null, vice provost for undergraduate education, noted the search committee for the new executive director position reviewed hundreds of applications.
"During her on-campus interview, Marjorie impressed everyone with her enthusiasm, energy, and experience," he said. "Marjorie comes to us with six years of experience as the director of a career development office, so she knows what it takes to succeed. In addition, she is an excellent communicator who can work with the numerous and diverse constituent groups that the CPD office must serve."