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Articles: Human Resources

There has been a rash of major embezzlement cases cropping up like a pox at institutions of higher learning all around the country. While employee theft occurs daily at all types of organizations, we have tracked a disproportionate number of significant misappropriations at U.S. colleges and universities. The damage, while significant, is not only financial. Institutional reputation, alumni relations, endowment growth, employee productivity, and even enrollment, can all be negatively affected by a major defalcation.

"Leave your personal problems at the door." There are probably some managers who still support the antiquated belief that employees can shut off personal problems like a light switch once they set foot in the workplace. But how can a worker ignore the fact that he or she has lost a home, maxed out credit cards, drained the savings account, or stopped being able to pay the electric bill?

Albert Einstein had this to say about problem-solving: "You can never solve a problem on the same level on which it was created." In other words, the solution lies at a higher level. That is certainly the truth for many efforts in higher education, where overcoming administrative challenges? that are holding back student or institutional success or service is often about reaching for innovative solutions.

You need something done. What are you told?

“Fill out a form.”

Western Washington University officials figured there had to be a better way. The use of hard-copy forms to request services, they believed, was a waste of paper and time, as the requisitions had to be sent via campus mail to the appropriate parties, who in turn had to review, copy, and file them. Each person in the approval chain needed his or her own copy, and there was no central repository where the forms could be accessed easily.

Remember the first day you came to work? For some people, first days are overwhelming—with new rules, processes, and software programs to learn, new coworkers to meet, and myriad choices to make, from which health plan to choose to the amount of taxes you want deducted.

If a qualified job applicant is neither a U.S. citizen nor a permanent U.S. resident, known as a "green card" holder, most likely that individual will require a visa enabling him or her to live and work in the United States. Foreign visitors in the U.S. on a visa waiver program or B visitor visa are not entitled to be employed in the United States without obtaining a proper visa that authorizes employment. The visa options for visiting faculty are discussed below.

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.

Employees were eager to add their adult children under the age of 26 back on to their health insurance policy, one provision of the Affordable Care Act, explains Kakuk, director of total compensation and human resources information systems at Western Michigan University, which supports approximately 2,800 benefits-eligible employees.

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. If an institution can fully leverage these in-house capabilities, it can have a dramatic effect on its overall pharmacy benefit budget. How to best leverage these capabilities should be considered when HR administrators selects a pharmacy benefit management (PBM) partner.

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? While the spotlight is on health care, not much is being said about trends regarding employee voluntary benefits, such as vision, supplemental life insurance, and long-term disability.

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. Yet, even in these trying times, a few proactive leaders have found new tools and creative tactics to keep people learning and growing. They are energizing their teams and raising morale with minimal expense.

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.

Because she lived in the Chicago area, we interacted most often by phone or e-mail, but when we did meet at higher education industry events, Terry would always greet me with a hug, as though I were a long lost friend.

Steep budget cuts. Skyrocketing health care costs. Layoffs. Furlough programs. As if that wasn't enough to deal with, colleges and universities around the country are facing a new challenge: how to reduce the frustration, dissatisfaction, or even anger felt by employees who haven't received a pay raise in several years.

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?

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.

As the stories of our Summer 2010 Models of Efficiency honorees demonstrate, there are a multitude of good ideas being implemented that streamline processes without reducing the quality of service that campus constituents deserve, and in many cases expect.

Campus security

When Paul Ominsky is asked what the future might hold for campus security, law enforcement accreditation comes to his mind first. With a 35-year span in this field, Ominsky can easily cite benefits of being accredited, such as that it raises a department's external credibility, helps clarify procedures, and enhances working relationships with state and municipal peers.