You are here

Articles: Human Resources

Recent lawsuits have alleged that certain colleges breached the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which states employers that sponsor retirement plans have a fiduciary responsibility to prudently manage those plans on the behalf of their employees.

Eight prominent universities—including University of Pennsylvania, Duke, Emory, Johns Hopkins, Vanderbilt and others—were hit with separate lawsuits in August 2016 alleging the institutions mishandled their employee retirement plans.

LAWMAKER PERSUASION— Tim Tai, a University of Missouri student photojournalist, testified in support of the New Voices press freedom bill in higher ed during an April 2016 Missouri House of Representatives committee meeting. (Beatriz Costa-Lima)

Campus newspapers face many of the same challenges confronting the professional media—inconsistent readership, dwindling financial resources, and competition with bloggers and social media.

A Texas judge’s eleventh-hour injunction against a controversial labor regulation change has left more than 4 million U.S. workers, including thousands in higher education, in limbo. Scheduled to go into effect December 1, the so-called Overtime Rule would have made full-time employees earning less than $47,476 eligible for a pay raise or overtime pay.

Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of education, billionaire businesswoman and philanthropist Elisabeth “Betsy” DeVos, is more of a household name in K12 than higher ed circles. DeVos has worked to promote school choice and voucher programs, including creation of Detroit’s charter school system. 

She sits on the board of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, whose mission is “to build an American education system that equips every child to achieve his or her God-given potential.”

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

As the national movement for unionization continues to grow across college campuses, there’s an important lesson here. Unions typically spring up where inequities are either perceived or actually occur.

College and universities must face a harsh reality: employer expectations of their graduates are changing. As the world becomes more complex, so do employer demands. It’s not enough for candidates to have the professional or technical skills needed for a particular job. Hiring managers now want strong “right brain” attributes -- communication, collaboration and creativity – and the ability to apply both hard and soft skills to their role.

Colleges and universities are experimenting with strategies—from financial incentives to life coaching—aimed at coaxing veteran professors into starting the next chapter of their lives.

Faculty members are finding exciting new directions once they retire from their tenured professorships. But data suggests that faculty members are waiting longer to retire than they once did, with sometimes problematic implications for their institutions.

Under age-discrimination laws, college professors, like most American workers, can’t be forced into retirement. Congress ended mandatory age-70 faculty retirement in 1994, after the National Academy of Sciences predicted the change wouldn’t increase professors’ average retirement age.

Are universities hiring non-tenured adjuncts—who now make up two-thirds of the faculty workforce—because their tenured veterans won’t retire?

Delayed retirement is a contributing factor in the proliferation of adjuncts, says Brian Kaskie, associate professor of health policy at the University of Iowa’s College of Public Health. Employees who can’t be fired and won’t retire are a burden administrators don’t want to assume.

In an era in which every college or university expense must be scrutinized, tuition remission policy details may be worth analyzing. (Click to enlarge)

Almost 90 percent of colleges and universities offer tuition remission benefits to their employees and employees’ dependents. And with college tuition costs skyrocketing, that benefit has become increasingly sought-after—but expensive for the institution.

While many institutions that examine their tuition remission spending wind up reining in spending in this area, some schools are actually increasing the benefit to better recruit and retain top-notch talent.

Last year, leaders at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, increased the tuition benefit for employees’ spouses and children from 75 percent to full coverage. Employees themselves already received 100 percent remission.

Like many employers, higher ed institutions are reaching out to military veterans to fill skilled positions. Military service offers rich opportunities for individuals to develop a wide variety of skills that translate to well-paying jobs in the civilian world.

The impacts of unionization by teaching and research assistants can be seen at several U.S. public universities (gettyimages.com: Daniel Vilaneuve)

Leaders at private colleges concerned about the National Labor Relations Board’s ruling allowing Columbia University teaching and research assistants to unionize can look to their peers at public universities to prepare for coming changes.

All higher education institutions offer employee training and skill development in some form or another. Workshops. Webinars. Mentoring. Coaching. It’s the same-old same-old—but does it have to be?

Besides freeing up IT to handle other tasks, new systems allow HR to be more efficient because data is located in one spot rather than spread through multiple systems that require multiple sign-ons. And new HR apps allow employees to use mobile devices to check benefits, complete a course or even schedule vacations.

Pages