When Eli Jamison signed up to teach at the Virginia Tech Roanoke Center, she found not only a new audience for her management expertise, but also a new way to connect with working professionals.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to hear how these concepts apply, or don’t, to their work life,” said Jamison, an assistant professor of practice in the Pamplin College of Business. “This feedback always raises new, interesting professional and academic questions for me. In turn, I get to bring these professional experiences to my students in Blacksburg.”

Virginia Tech faculty are invited to a virtual reception June 11. Members of the Roanoke Center team will meet with faculty members in 10-minute appointments via Zoom to discuss how the faculty member may fit in the center’s programming needs. Registration is required to get an appointment.

The center, part of Outreach and International Affairs, brings Virginia Tech expertise and resources to the Roanoke region. Its programming includes professional development classes, workshops, webinars, custom workplace training, and a faculty lecture series. It held its first virtual reception for faculty May 19-20.

“Usually, programs are developed after we meet with clients and they tell us, for example, ‘My employees really need training in analyzing data.’ Then, we connect with faculty we know who may be able to teach that topic,” said Lesa Hanlin, executive director of Roanoke Regional Initiatives. “The more connections we build with faculty, the better we can meet the needs of the community.”

Hanlin said the center is looking for instructors to teach courses in such topics as leadership, data analytics, blockchain, and artificial intelligence. However, Hanlin hopes the reception will help the center “fill the bench” with experts on a wide variety of topics.

Gregory Justice, an associate professor in the School of Performing Arts, offers communication workshops through the center.

“I love to do my workshops, but I do not enjoy marketing my workshops. The staff at the Roanoke Center not only finds me new, diverse audiences, but also helps make my job easy. Everything is always set up and ready to go. I arrive and offer my work and only have to focus on my content,” he said.

Faculty members have options for how they are paid for their instruction. Payments can go directly into their regular paycheck or they can be sent to the faculty’s department to be used for graduate assistants, conferences, or other needs.

Jamison loves the challenge that teaching to adults provides. “They need a different set of teaching skills than undergraduates, and this maintains and expands my own skills and knowledge. For me, spending the day in conversation with folks who are doing the work in the area that I study and teach is equal parts interesting and energizing.”

She has led workshops about inclusive workplaces, adaptive leadership, problem-solving, emotional intelligence, and ethical leadership. “The thing that keeps me going back, even when I don’t think I have the time, is that it is simply a ton of fun. The staff at the Roanoke Center will take care of all your administration.”

Written by Diane Deffenbaugh