A Different Corner

Professionalism and Staff Evals

I have had several conversations with online leaders that amount to, “I love the ‘Hallmarks’ but how do I implement them? There’s so much there!” Well my friends and colleagues, I’ll tell you…it’s all about baby steps. I was watching The Equalizer a few weeks ago (a movie featuring Denzel Washington) and he had a line that really resonated with me, “progress, not perfection”. I am considering making this my 2018 mantra and perhaps you might do the same, at least in terms of implementing the UPCEA Hallmarks of Excellence in Online Leadership.


This time of year is often the dreaded PERFORMANCE APPRAISAL period. If I could cue up some foreboding music I certainly would do so, but instead I’ll share this oldie but goodie. You see, leaders across the nation, at this very moment, are struggling with staff evaluation deadlines. I’ve had folks tell me that staff evaluations are the worst part of their job. I, on the other hand, LOVE evaluations. I am big on feedback, closing loops, and staff development, so evaluation time is the best time of year for me…and for you it can be the best time to start integrating the Hallmarks into your online operations.


Let’s take a deeper dive on the Hallmarks and focus on one specifically, professionalism. I want to draw your attention to a few statements found in that hallmark’s section:

  • “Formulate and sustain the ethical aspects of online programs—particularly academic honesty” (p. 37)
  • “Support research, presentations, publications, and award submissions” (p. 37)
  • “Ensure appropriate and specific professional development for faculty and staff who affect online learning quality and initiatives.” (p. 38)
  • “Participate, and encourage staff participation, in national and regional professional organizations.” (p. 38)
  • “Development of shared values and purposes” (p. 40)

Now let’s talk goal statements. You might want consider the following goals for you and your team (you’ll notice that every one of these items can be written as a SMART goal through the cunning use of milestones and delegation of specific tasks):

    • Increase awareness and alignment of institutional academic integrity policies within online operations by…you could finish off this sentence with any one of the following:
      • …updating the online unit’s website to include links and text regarding academic integrity in online courses
      • …[developing/suggesting] a syllabus statement for online courses that addresses academic integrity
      • …developing an online student code of conduct that provides examples of appropriate communication and details specific activities considered incongruous with institutional policies that are not spelled out (use of emojis, cyberbullying, harassing language or memes, etc.)
    • Engage in [one, two, etc.] collaborations with [faculty/team members] focused on [research, presentations, publications, and/or award submissions] relevant to online learning at the institution. This goal has many benefits. First, it gives folks the ability to follow their interests and receive external validation (something that is important when times are tough and raises are nowhere to be had). It also presents an opportunity for individuals to begin building a personal brand as they could become known for their work in a particular area. It also fosters relationships with faculty as publications, awards, and presentations are their currency—you/your unit helping them achieve tenure and promotion requirements is a win for you both.
  • Engage in [one, three, five, etc.] learning experiences offered by UPCEA and demonstrate learning through [the development of a new practice, presenting to peers, leading a unit learning activity, etc.]. Ok, I’ll admit it, this one is a bit self-serving for me. Come on, you had to expect it since this IS an UPCEA blog post. There is a ton of professional development content (formal and informal) offered by UPCEA. We have webinars and events, a resource library, a blog (you’re here so there’s no need for a link), a briefing, and a publication that can all serve as the basis for team learning at your institution. You might challenge yourself and others to attend or read something (might I suggest this or this) and then have a team discussion on key takeaways and implications for practice within your unit. The best thing about this goal is it is all about initiative and access to resources you have as an UPCEA member.
  • Participate in UPCEA regional or network leadership (or another volunteer role). Anyone, and I mean anyone, can find a way to participate in UPCEA. For example, every network and region is led by volunteer leaders and they are often groomed for leadership positions by participating in the numerous committees and subcommittees that exist in the networks and regions. I started my UPCEA journey by volunteering to review award submissions for the Online Administration network years ago. You don’t have to know anyone, heck I didn’t and look at me now—I work here. While people often think I know everyone in UPCEA there are a few folks I don’t know (I’m looking at you, Southern Utah University!). UPCEA is what you make it! You and/or your staff can raise your hand(s) and indicate your interest in volunteering by filling out a volunteer form. Volunteering doesn’t necessarily commit you to attendance at events so if you’re struggling with providing leadership opportunities for your team and you have a limited (or no) travel budget, we’ve got you covered!
  • Collaborating on an [ethics or mission] statement for the online learning unit. Developing overarching statements for an online unit in the absence of one can be pretty heady stuff. Once you hunker down and begin that work differences in values and purposes, biases, and general disconnects within your team often become evident. This is a multifaceted exercise that could take a year or more to achieve.


Ok, so now that you have some examples of goal statements that specifically tie back to the professionalism hallmark I would like to challenge you to share some of your own. They don’t have to be from the professionalism hallmark—there are six other hallmarks that could serve as fodder for a goal statement or two (or hundreds). Have a look and feel free to share any goal statements you are particularly proud of by starting a conversation in CORe, or dropping me an email (juranis at upcea dot edu).

My best to you,


Julie Uranis


Julie Uranis serves as the Vice President for Online and Strategic Initiatives at UPCEA. In this capacity she is the Managing Director of the National Council for Online Education and leads the planning efforts for the Summit for Online Leadership and Administration + Roundtable (SOLA+R). Prior to joining UPCEA she lead the distance learning and continuing and professional development teams at Western Kentucky University as the Director of Distance Learning and Continuing & Professional Development. Julie began her career at Eastern Michigan University (EMU) where she held both teaching and administrative positions. Julie has a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, a Master of Science in Technology Studies, and a Graduate Certificate in Community College Leadership from EMU.


A Different Corner is written by Julie Uranis, Vice President, Online & Strategic Initaitives, and Managing Director of the National Council for Online Education. This blog veers into topics du jour in PCO and as the title of the blog might imply, a George Michael lyric or ten.

Click here to learn more about UPCEA's resources for online education leaders.

Click here to learn about the National Council for Online Education.

UPCEA Hallmarks of Excellence in Online Leadership

Developed with a goal of identifying the range of what will constitute successful online leadership, the Hallmarks of Excellence in Online Leadership include standards, aspirations and principles essential into the foreseeable (and not so foreseeable) future of online education. The Hallmarks identify seven facets of leadership and organizational development: internal advocacy, entrepreneurial initiative, faculty support, student support, digital technology, external advocacy, and professionalism.

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