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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.

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.

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:

Administrators, faculty, and staff at Ohio U could opt to begin their "twilight years" early.

It’s an increasingly common move by campus officials during challenging economic times: voluntary retirement. Offering these incentives to faculty and staff provides a ready means of reducing personnel costs while not being seen as severe and traumatic as layoffs, salary reductions, and furloughs tend to be.

Although the details of such plans vary from one college to the next, they all rest on the potential for shrinking the workforce during times of static or declining budgets.

Given widespread protests against rising tuition and the impending doubling of student loan interest rates, one might expect to see students picketing on a college campus. But at Fairfield University (Conn.) in May, the shoe was on the other foot, as nearly 100 faculty and students picketed outside President Jeffrey P. von Arx’s annual address to faculty.

The reason? The Fairfield U administration, faced with budget woes and shrinking enrollment, wants to end a long-standing practice of paying professors as well as, or better than, peers in comparable institutions.

College campuses have long been accused of being bastions of liberal thought. But the most recent Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) survey of the nation’s entering students at four-year colleges and universities shows that current freshmen, at least, are arriving on campus with their own more liberal beliefs than previous classes. “The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2011” shares findings that students are more accepting of everything from same-sex marriages to affirmative action.

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.


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