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Articles: Human Resources

Carol Patton specializes in human resources issues.

Employee benefits at higher education institutions are generally robust and truly hard to beat. More than ever, job candidates are attracted to employers that offer choice or the ability to customize benefits that cater to their individual lifestyle.

Carol Patton: HR professionals should help employees better manage information.

It’s so easy to hit “send.” But experienced human resources professionals know better and are implementing creative strategies to share important news with employees while preventing them from overdosing on information.

Although employees are responsible for reading and acting upon messages they receive, some HR professionals are helping them better manage that information.

Colleges and universities now expect employees to take action, change behaviors and make decisions that positively impact their health, finances and lifestyles.

Wellness benefits have transformed into all kinds of unique offerings, ranging from on-site vegetable gardens to fitness centers. Meanwhile, traditional “do-everything-for-me” benefits have disappeared.

The skill set required for today’s top jobs in higher education has never been more extensive or demanding. Boards of Trustees are looking for leadership in several areas: academic authority, fundraising ability, public relations and media savvy, legal and political sensitivity, as well as ease of movement between constituent groups—alumni, students, faculty, parents, donors, business leaders, government—all with significant claims on the president’s time and attention.

Carol Patton

Earlier this year, CUPA-HR—an HR association for higher education—conducted its 2015 Employee Healthcare Benefits in Higher Education Survey. Of the 525 public and private institutions that responded, 70 percent offer healthcare coverage to same-sex domestic partners.

 Carol Patton is a Las Vegas-based writer who specializes in human resources issues.

Cluster hiring of faculty is an effective strategy that has been around for at least 15 years. Ask universities that practice it and they’ll tell you it strengthens faculty diversity and promotes new research opportunities. So why aren’t more higher education institutions practicing it?

Rick Cherwitz is a professor in the Moody College of Communication and faculty fellow in the Division of Diversity & Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin.

The “faculty contract” is a process by which faculty, in consultation with their departments and colleges, negotiate—and then, over the course of time—renegotiate their work product. This would institute greater flexibility and autonomy in determining the work product of faculty.

Carol Patton is a Las Vegas-based writer who specializes in human resources issues.

Heather DeBlanc says there’s been a lot of buzz lately at conferences among attorneys and insurance consultants about the Affordable Care Act.

Specifically, DeBlanc, an attorney at Liebert Cassidy Whitmore in Los Angeles, says there have been rumors the IRS is increasing the audits it performs at higher education institutions to ensure schools aren’t misclassifying employees as independent contractors to avoid giving them health care insurance.

Higher ed institutions are expanding interdisciplinary research activity by hiring groups of faculty from multiple disciplines at the same time. The idea, pioneered by the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the late 1990s and sprouting up elsewhere since then, is to formalize the expectation of working collaboratively across the university. It may involve a variety of collaborative support activities or a less structured expectation (as part of their job descriptions) that the new hires work together.

Four Tufts University students went on a hunger strike during an occupation of the quad in May to protest planned cuts to the school’s janitorial staff.

A small group of Tufts University students mounted a six-day hunger strike in May, but their target wasn’t fossil fuel divestment or nuclear disarmament. The Tufts Labor Coalition had pitched tents in front of the suburban Boston school’s administration building to protest the planned layoff of campus custodial workers.

While such staff cuts might not seem to be a typical student cause, the janitors’ plight illuminates issues of race and income equality, says David Ferrandiz, a Tufts sophomore and an organizer of the hunger strike.

Carol Patton is a Las Vegas-based writer who specializes in human resources issues.

What types of people at your school are not saving for retirement? Young employees? Low-income earners? Maybe single parents with children?

Several years ago, Linda Nilsen needed to know. As the executive director of benefits and compensation at Princeton University, she analyzed the non-savers—about half of the school’s 6,000 employees. To her surprise, there were no trends, no themes, no commonalities. These individuals represented all ages, salaries, departments and positions.

Students at UC San Diego walked out in solidarity with adjuncts at the university.

Faculty and students who demonstrated during the first National Adjunct Walkout Day on Feb. 25 aimed to raise awareness about the working conditions faced by part-time instructors. Despite the day’s title, walkouts were not only discouraged by many unions, but illegal in some states.

Carol Patton is a Las Vegas-based writer who specializes in human resources issues.

While some schools operate aging HR systems that can’t perform key tasks, others are looking ahead to their next technology purchase.

The United University Professions (UUP), SUNY’s labor union, has defended funding for public higher education—which has decreased nationwide by about 25 percent since the Great Recession. (Only two states, Alaska and North Dakota, have increased funding.)

Robert L. Caret was a leading spokesperson on college affordability and student debt while leading the University of Massachusetts.

Robert L. Caret has been named the next chancellor of the University System of Maryland. On July 1, Caret will succeed William E. Kirwan, who will retire after having held the position since 2002.

Caret has led the University of Massachusetts since July 2011, during which time he has become a leading spokesperson on college affordability and student debt. His pursuit of a 50-50 funding formula for UMass resulted in the state and students contributing equally to the university’s general education program, and a 22 percent increase in the base budget for two years.

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