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Human Resources

Chances are, your institution is or may soon be recruiting for leadership positions, such as president, chancellor, or vice president. At Alfred University (N.Y.), for example, the search is underway for a new provost, and within the next five years, the institution plans to recruit two vice presidents and a president, says Mark Guinan, HR director at the private university, which supports approximately 1,000 employees and 2,300 students.

More than 1,130 U.S. higher ed institutions have implemented smoke-free campus policies, and the number is expected to climb, according to the organization Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights. The University of California can soon be added to the list.  Starting in 2014, each of its 10 campuses will be tobacco-free, says UC, Riverside spokesperson Kris Lovekin. To promote a campus event relating to the annual Great American Smokeout this past November, student affairs staff distributed zombie-themed cards modeling an app developed by the American Cancer Society.

Perhaps nothing causes more administrative anxiety for deans at nursing schools than the nation’s nursing shortage. It not only poses a real threat to the country’s health care delivery system, but also to higher ed institutions that need nursing faculty.

Many are feeling the pinch. Positions remain unfilled, some for years. So nursing schools are rethinking and redesigning their traditional recruiting and retention strategies. Their solutions are quite varied, ranging from creating e-jobs and dual appointments to sharing existing faculty.

HR cross-training

With budgets still tight and a workforce still lean, some higher ed institutions are applying an old approach that allows them to do more with less.

Cross-training employees, or training them to perform key tasks of a coworker’s job, is nothing new. Perhaps it’s never more appreciated than when employees take vacations, become ill, work on special projects, or quit their job.

In 2008, Sunil Khambaswadkar came on board as the assistant vice chancellor of HR at the Abu Dhabi campus of New York University, which now supports 450 students and is growing strong. “It was a great opportunity for HR and me, personally, to be part of the campus right from the beginning, participating in the planning process, being able to determine what would be required from an HR perspective,” he says.

Are the processes of recruiting, employee performance appraisals, recognition, and succession planning at your institution in separate pieces like a jigsaw puzzle? Or are they linked, forming one clear picture about your campus’s talent resources and needs?

Talent management software is helping campus HR professionals connect the pieces to develop a more accurate picture of employees’ abilities and skill gaps­—and in some cases even changing the way HR operates.

How much are your employees worth? The struggling economy has prompted many institutions to make serious changes in how staff and faculty are evaluated. While politicians claim education is the key to attracting quality jobs, millions of dollars have been slashed from higher education appropriations. Every budget dollar spent must be justified more than ever. Campus leaders have begun scrutinizing employee performance, and at some institutions uniform salary increases have been replaced with thorough evaluations that link pay to job performance.

The only consistency about cell phone policies for campus employees is that there isn’t any. Likewise, the level of human resources office involvement is as different as the kinds of cell phones or data plans that are available today. In some cases, cell phone policies are developed and implemented by IT or the business office. Other times, HR helps create the policy, then stands on the sidelines. Some schools don’t even have a policy, or don’t request HR’s participation at all.

What should HR leaders do? Should their department even have a role?

illustration of a professor behind a podium

Tenure-track positions at higher ed institutions are not always the most sought-after jobs on campus. At least, not lately.


It wasn't long ago that I believed there was nothing new in employee training or professional development. My inbox was filled with emails about new employee workshops and online training programs covering the same old topics. And there were phone calls from consultants, bragging about this or that traditional training program.

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