Articles: Human Resources

On March 24, 2010, the day after President Obama signed sweeping health care reform legislation into law, Robert T. Kakuk's phone didn't stop ringing.

Universities are often in a unique position when it comes to managing their pharmacy benefits. Those associated with medical schools, hospital, and clinics often have affiliated pharmacies and access to staff with clinical pharmacy expertise.

When listening to employees talk about their jobs, school officials may hear questions, concerns, and even fears about health care insurance. How much more will I have to contribute this year for premiums? Can I afford it? Will my coverage shrink?

With furloughs, layoffs, and slashed budgets becoming a "business as usual" occurrence in higher education, professional development is taking a hard blow. In some cases, it has been dramatically cut or eliminated for the foreseeable future.

This month I want to take the opportunity to note the passing of a longtime friend and University Business colleague, Terry Nelson.

Careful readers of UB may recognize her name from our masthead, a spot she occupied for more than a decade as our Midwest sales manager.

Steep budget cuts. Skyrocketing health care costs. Layoffs. Furlough programs.

The financial pressures on institutions and the scrutiny on spending continue. But campus administrative offices also continue to find new ways to change their practices for the better.

So many choices, so many decisions. Campus HR professionals face decisions about how to enhance their technology systems to streamline business processes. Purchase new software or tweak existing HR modules? Help vendors build a compatible interface for a program or design it in-house?

Campus security

When Paul Ominsky is asked what the future might hold for campus security, law enforcement accreditation comes to his mind first.

Several years ago, there were two secretaries at Jacksonville State University (Ala.) who worked in different departments. Neither got along with their boss. Their supervisors wanted to fire them but couldn't—as nothing was wrong with their job performance.

It wouldn't take much asking around to learn how one attains a goal of reaching the college presidency: teach, then get on the tenure track, become a department chair, and rise up the administrative ladder to chief academic officer.

People rarely work in isolation. But it's not always easy to meet in person to work on a project. Connecting online can be done from almost anywhere. The collaboration possibilities run the gamut from passing a Word document back-and-forth via e-mail to holding a multiparty videoconference.

We're starting the new year by announcing a new recognition program here at University Business, a program that honors those administrative departments that have found a way to work smarter and better.

Many colleges and universities are confronting even more complex challenges than usual. Indeed, the timing, intensity, and consequences of some of the most serious challenges qualify them as outright crises.

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME your human resources department explored new technology or brainstormed creative ways to maximize existing software? Many months ago? Last year? Maybe longer?

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