Chico ER: University partnership to train prison leaders

Friday, January 13, 2017

By Dani Anguiano, Chico Enterprise-Record

Posted: 01/12/17, 5:10 PM PST

Story Link:

While the semester hasn’t yet started at Chico State University, 20 new students are on campus this week through the school’s Executive Leadership Institute.

Twenty leaders in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations are taking classes at Chico State thanks to a new partnership between the CDCR and the university.

The Department and Regional and Continuing Education at Chico State has partnered to develop a leadership institute that aims to prepare state corrections executives to be “decisive, effective, visionary leaders and champions of change.”

The partnership will bring eight cohorts to the university where they will take four one-week courses over a four-month period, focused on leadership and taught by faculty experts in corrections from universities across the country.

“The goal is to provide a series of one-week courses on various leadership topics that develop important skills and knowledge,” Associate Dean in Regional and Continuing Education Clare Roby said.

The university has a long history of partnering with the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Roby added, going back to the mid-’90s when the university developed a six-month leadership institute for department staff. That program was shuttered due to state budget troubles and brought back in a new form this year.

“We began looking what we could do to take the program we did more than a decade ago and give it new life, change it up, give it new emphasis on projects,” Roby said. “Now, we have a new Executive Leadership Institute.”

The institute begins in Chico, which allows the participants, who come from across the state, to get out of their traditional working environments. It will also take place at a CDCR training facility in Sacramento, Roby said.

The 20 department employees in the first cohort, which includes a chief deputy warden, associate wardens, nursing and medical administrators, started the first of four courses this week.

Participants will work in project teams under the guidance of CDCR project sponsors and faculty project mentors from the departments of political science, criminal justice and sociology. The participants will present the final project results to senior CDCR staff.

Over the next 18 months, 220 employees from across the state will participate in the Executive Leadership Institute. Those employees must be nominated by a supervisor and then apply to the program.

The Executive Leadership Institute is part of a larger effort within the CDCR to ensure staff have the tools necessary to succeed, Roby said.

In a message to the institute’s first of eight cohorts, CDCR Secretary Scott Kernan said, “When I started as secretary last year, one of my top priorities was to … ensure you have the tools you need to impact the department operations and motivate staff to put their best foot forward. The idea was always to pick the future leaders of the organization and provide them access to other leaders in the field of corrections as well as focused problem solving on the very fast-changing environment in CDCR. You should be proud that you were selected to kick off this training.”

In addition to helping the CDCR, the program provides an exciting opportunity for the department to collaborate with the university, Roby said.

“We are very pleased to work with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation on such a forward-thinking and positive program that has the potential to effect real change throughout the state,” Roby said.

Reach reporter Dani Anguiano at 896-7767.