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Articles: Human Resources

Succession planning is moving from the private sector to higher education administration.

Zero. Zip. Zilch.

That’s what college president Don Cameron found after searching the internet back in 1996 for colleges with succession plans. Surprisingly, not much has changed, since such programs are still not common within higher ed institutions.

Job listings for Ph.D.'s in the social sciences and humanities continue to recover from low points hit during the Great Recession, says a new report from the American Sociological Association.

Listing for positions in two disciplines, sociology and communications, have even surpassed pre-Recession peaks, according to “On the Road to Recovery: Findings from the ASA 2012-2013 Job Bank Survey.”

HR professionals at colleges or universities readily admit that institutional history is important. But not every school is taking steps to capture it.

This is especially important now as more baby boomers retire, walking out the front door with 30 or more years of institutional knowledge and experience. Preserving that knowledge and making it accessible to faculty, staff, and students is critical. After all, how can officials know where the institution is headed if they don’t know where it’s been?

The prospect of employees with more money to invest, easier-to-understand investment options, more personalized customer service, and lower fees has colleges and universities rethinking their retirement plans and moving toward a single retirement services vendor.

Fidelity suggests the following actions for higher education plan sponsors:
1. Target employee and employer contributions totaling 10 percent to 15 percent of an employee’s annual salary to increase retirement readiness.
2. Administer a combined benefits plan of contribution and employer match to increase total contributions, employee engagement, and potentially lower costs.
3. Use employer match to increase voluntary participation rates and employee contributions.

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.

  • Tim Jordan has been named vice chancellor and chief financial officer at Antioch University (Ohio). He has served in finance-related capacities with Antioch for almost 30 years, most recently as the vice president for finance and administration at Antioch University New England (N.H.).

Does being an executive-level higher ed administrator “pay off” in perks? Presidents and chancellors, at least, may well think it does.

For the first time, administrators responding to CUPA-HR’s annual “Administrators in Higher Education Salary Survey” were asked if they received any of five “executive-only” benefits—housing, car/car allowance, club membership, deferred compensation program, and performance-based incentive opportunities.

In her role as web manager and assistant director of institutional marketing at Elms College (Mass.), Karolina Kilfeather routinely relies on student workers to help carry the department’s workload.  She has found that while they may make valuable contributions, students often pose special management challenges.

Although many campuses are tobacco-free, it would be rare to find 100 percent compliance among staff, faculty, and students. There are usually a handful of smokers huddled together in a corner, puffing away.

“We try to tell people to spread the word in a respectful way, to be friendly, be positive, and not forget you’re talking to a fellow employee or student,” says Patrick Hennessey, a member of the President’s Advisory Committee for a tobacco-free campus at Westchester Community College (N.Y.). The campus’ ban took effect Sept. 1, 2012.

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.

The Universities of Oregon, Illinois, and Virginia have plenty in common. They all rate as leading research institutions, boast a high-achieving graduate and undergraduate student body, and field formidable athletic teams that compete regularly for national championships.

Part-time faculty play a vital role in university life. They teach large intro courses and classes; they are more likely to teach evening classes, which provides flexibility in course scheduling and attracts students who work during the day; and they accept last-minute teaching assignments when campuses add new class sections due to high student demand.

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.

Bullies aren’t just on the playground. In fact, 62 percent of higher ed employees surveyed for a recent study reported witnessing or experiencing bullying in the past 18 months. That’s exactly one-quarter more than the 37 percent of the general workforce who report the same, according to Workplace Bullying Institute Data.

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