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Articles: Human Resources

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.

With campus leaders looking to streamline operations and save resources, electronic payroll options are very appealing. The printing, envelope stuffing, and mailing costs associated with paper checks make them an administrative burden, says Anthony Peculic, senior director of product strategy at ADP.

As university presidents gathered at this fall’s conferences and seminars, the usual question of “How was your summer?” likely produced more than perfunctory, polite responses. It was a wild season for a number of higher education leaders. In June, the president of the University of Virginia was “temporarily” fired by her board for not being aggressive enough in pushing new initiatives.

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.

The Rutgers (N.J.) spying case and the Penn State abuse scandal, among others, highlight the liability risks of all types facing colleges and universities. From the other end of the risk spectrum, Tulane University’s (La.) long struggle to rebuild and recoup losses stemming from Hurricane Katrina illustrates the complexity of property damage risk management.

Universities and colleges are struggling to compete for high quality senior administrative leaders. Tight budgets compound the challenge, since recruiting, selecting, and relocating candidates require significant investments.

The higher education chief information officer role has origins that date back around three decades. This relatively nascent position is evolving at breakneck speed, adapting to the rapidly changing information technology landscape and a higher ed space also undergoing unprecedented change. Research conducted for my dissertation reveals that major IT industry developments such as IT consumerization—the bring your own device (BYOD) movement—cloud computing, and the information security suite of issues are all impacting the CIO role in profound ways.

Over the past 10 years, tenure at colleges and universities has come under fire from a variety of sources, especially legislators and politicians, most of whom have little or only tangential experience within the academic community. A recent pro and con about tenure by those more connected to the academy also appeared in The Wall Street Journal. Most surprising among recent attention to this issue is a survey of university presidents, a majority of whom would do away with tenure if they could.

In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, Pennsylvania State University has announced a program of performing background checks on all new hires. It’s just one of a number of penalties imposed on the university since the sex abuse charges came to light.

Let’s take a second to review some of the damage wreaked by that scandal. It led to the conviction of Sandusky on 45 counts of abuse, the firing of legendary football coach Joe Paterno for not acting on information he had, and the dismissal of university president Graham Spanier—to say nothing of the victims of the crime.­

You might not know it when you recall all the faculty and staff layoffs of recent years, but according to a new report, the number of jobs in higher education continues to grow faster than overall U.S. employment. An analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data by HigherEdJobs.com finds that the number of jobs in higher education grew 2.1 percent during Q2 2012, compared to growth of 1.4 percent for all U.S. jobs. A year earlier in Q2 2011, the number of higher education jobs grew 2.2 percent, compared to overall job growth of 1.0 percent.

Those at colleges and universities who have helped implement moneysaving safety programs offer some tips on how to begin persuading officials to get serious about safety. First, talk to all decision makers, including campus risk managers all the way up to vice chancellors.


Erike Young, director of Environmental Health & Safety at the University of California Office of the President, says whether the institution is self-insured like UC or part of an insurance pool, the institution’s insurance premiums can be reduced by working with its actuary.


For years, Kevin Confetti would perform a metaphoric scratching of the head. Thousands of work-related injuries were reported at the University of California’s 10 campuses and five medical centers, costing the system $25 million annually in workers’ compensation claims. As a workers’ compensation specialist for UC, he was responsible for payments to injured employees while they were off their feet.


Micki Meyer, director of community engagement, with David Lord, the donor of her endowed chair position

Rollins College (Fla.) recently hired a director of community engagement. While the position is not unusual, the funding for it might be. An alumnus gave a $1 million donation to endow the position. Donations from David Lord and his family helped establish and support the community engagement office through the years, so he knew the next logical step to expand the program was hiring a director, explains Joe Monti, director of foundation relations. This is the second endowed staff position at Rollins, the other being at their Cornell Fine Arts Museum.

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.

In June, 15 colleges and universities were recognized by the American Council on Education and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for innovative practices in supporting faculty before, during, and after their retirement transitions. The awards focused on efforts to support the development of a legacy for retiring faculty, help them transition into retirement, and keep faculty involved in the academic community during their retirement years.

Examples of the measures recognized include:

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