Human Resources (HR) management is centered on the most valuable asset to a company, organization or institution—its people. HR Associate, Mary T. Casterline, has been aiding and improving relations among the staff at Towson University since 2004.
Mary T. grew up locally in the town of Bel Air, Maryland. She attended John Carroll High School and the University of Delaware before transferring to Towson University, where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. She came to TU in 2004 after taking some time off of teaching to raise her daughter.
“It was the perfect opportunity,” said Mary T. “I had taught for six years [after graduating college] and really wanted to get back to training and helping others.”
Mary T. has two positions within Human Resources: Employee/Employer Relations and Training and Development Associate. As the Training and Development Associate, she assists in the transition of incoming employees to the university and helps organize programs that improve career skills among staff members. Based on the performance evaluations from staff members’ supervisors, she makes recommendations for training workshops that can help staff with their personal and professional development needs. These courses can include anything from project management to customer service or writing skills. Mary T. also helps to organize and register new hires for the university’s new employee orientation.
“We strongly recommend that new employees participate in the orientation; it is very beneficial to them,” said Mary T. “It gives a detailed history of the university, a tour of the campus, a breakdown of the various resources available to our students and staff, as well as an excellent presentation of our master plan.”
In addition to the orientation, Mary T. helps new employees by assisting in the organization of the mentor/mentee program, which pairs experienced staff members with new employees for guidance and support. Staff members may register to participate using an online application which helps to gauge compatibility between the mentors and mentees. Mary T. uses the results to pair mentors with their mentees.
Although Mary T. dedicates much of her time to aid in the training and development of employees, she also plays a substantial role in helping improve the relationships among them. In her role with Employee/Employer Relations, she assists Employee/Employer Relations Manager, Jo Ann Joseph by conducting exit surveys of employees leaving the university and dealing with cases involving disciplinary actions such as suspensions, reprimands and employee disputes. The cases are completely confidential and the HR staff works to find the most reasonable and fair solution for all cases.
“If an issue arises, we usually meet with those involved, listen to their concerns and try to assist with resolution, using policies and experience as a guide,” she said. “Each of the cases is treated on an individual basis. You really can’t make blanket statements; we have to consider all aspects in the situation before making recommendations and decisions.”
While Mary T. helps resolve any disputes among staff members, she also plays an influential role in bringing faculty and staff together for more positive reasons. Currently, she and Training and Development Manager Mike Noll are in the process of organizing the Service Awards Ceremony, an annual event in which approximately 300 faculty and staff members are awarded for their time and service to the university. She also organizes the Calvin Rodwell Elementary/Towson University (CRES/TU) Partnership. The CRES/TU Partnership is a volunteer program that allows staff members to visit Calvin Rodwell Elementary, a title one school in Baltimore City, to mentor students.
“Five to six volunteers go at a time and get the opportunity to read with students, help them with writing and participate in other activities such as fun day, which is their version of a field day,” said Mary T. “It’s a great opportunity to help out and make a difference.”
From all her work within the university and beyond, it’s clear that Mary T. loves to make a difference. She has even implemented a new program to help teach staff members in HR basic sign language skills so they can properly communicate with deaf faculty, staff and students. Bridging the gap of communication between staff members and those who are deaf is just another one of the many ways that Mary T. strives to make a difference.
“Working with staff members, faculty and students is what I love,” she said. “It really makes me feel good knowing that I’m able to help someone out.”