Originally posted in the April 2016 P & A News; reposted with permission.
Meet Julie Showers, Director of the Office for Conflict Resolution. This office serves all employees at the University. Director Showers, who has been at the University of Minnesota for just 18 months, expands on her role:
What is your role at the University of Minnesota? What do you do in a typical day/week?
The Office for Conflict Resolution serves faculty, staff and student employees who are experiencing conflict in the workplace. We offer both formal and informal conflict resolution services, and provide programming around effective ways to prepare for and respond to conflict when it occurs. Most of work involves informal, confidential consultations with employees – except in limited situations involving health and safety, we do not take any action unless requested to do so by the visitor to our office.
How does your work impact the University community?
Most people find conflict uncomfortable and difficult to manage. We encourage people to see conflict as an inevitable byproduct of being human, and to realize that, while challenging, conflict presents an opportunity for growth and learning. We hope that by helping members of the University community resolve conflict more quickly, effectively and constructively we can help support a workplace that is inclusive and allows all to do their best work. As an independent office that is not part of OHR or OGC, we find that visitors to our office can feel comfortable sharing their concerns in a safe and confidential environment.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I get to connect with interesting people every day. For most of them, conflict resolution is not something that they have studied or practiced. I love the fact that with very little coaching, I can help people feel better supported and equipped to manage the conflict they face.
What do you like best about working at UMN?
I have only been at UMN since August 2014. I’m still learning about the University and the way it operates. In general, my favorite part is that no two days are the same. I have learned an incredible amount by working on diverse issues in all kinds of different settings. I am proud of all the work that gets done here, and the ways in which we contribute to the production of knowledge every day.
What is one thing you couldn’t live without?
Toss up: Pizza and dogs.
People would be surprised if they knew:
I spend a week every summer hiking in the Desolation Wilderness.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to read, cook and travel. I’m not picky about genres, types of cuisine or destinations.
What was your best vacation?
This year I spent a lovely few days with friends in a beach house in Tunquen, Chile. The setting was beautiful, the food was fantastic and the company excellent. My husband and I were celebrating our 25th anniversary. That will be a hard one to beat!