The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

Award-Winning Work in Higher Ed HR – Regional HR Rock Star and HR Excellence Awards

From creating diversity efforts and development initiatives to leading change, human resources teams and HR practitioners across the country are doing great work every day.

CUPA-HR’s regional Higher Education HR Awards program recognizes some of the best and brightest in higher ed HR and honors HR professionals who have given their time and talents to the association.

Here are this year’s recipients:

Higher Ed HR Rock Star Award (New This Year!)

This award recognizes an individual who is serving in the first five years of a higher education HR career who has already made a significant impact.

Jordan Reedy, HR Coordinator, University of Maryland (Eastern Region)

Jordan Reedy’s inquisitive approach inspires her colleagues both inside and outside of HR to continually improve processes and challenge the status quo. Reedy tackles assignments with efficiency, is instrumental in publishing the quarterly HR newsletter, adds a valuable perspective and suggestions to the department, and continually seeks out learning opportunities to advance her HR knowledge. Throughout the year, Reedy invests time outside of her office to being visible on campus, attending representative meetings, learning best practices and current events in order to keep the HR department updated, and anticipating events coming down the pike.

Erin Laudenslager, Human Resources Administrator, Michigan State University (Midwest Region)

Erin Laudenslager has quickly grasped academic HR policies and procedures and provides suggestions to improve internal procedures and efficiencies. Laudenslager is engaged at the university level, serving as a member on the dean’s staff advisory council, the search committee for the College of Social Science and the leadership team for the university’s onboarding initiative. She has built trusting relationships with faculty and staff in the department and has positioned herself as a personable, supportive and responsive HR administrator. Laudenslager is a proactive problem solver and helps employees see how things fit into the big picture.

Danielle Arrington, Recruitment Program Manager, Clemson University (Southern Region)

Danielle Arrington is willing to challenge the norms of higher ed HR, which has led to several successful programs and campaigns at Clemson. Arrington established a webpage that features resources helpful to new employees moving to the area, and it turned into a revenue-generating opportunity for the HR department. Sponsorships generate funds that allow HR to put more money back into developing and retaining employees at the university. She also planned and managed Clemson’s recent #ClemsonWorks campaign, an employee engagement and recruitment initiative that spotlighted university employees. The campaign was so successful it received a national marketing award. Arrington also helped launch TalentSource, an initiative to connect employees’ spouses/partners to jobs in the area.

David Forgues, Ph.D., Vice President, Human Resources, Diversity and Inclusion, California State University, Fullerton (Western Region)

David Forgues’ varied background makes him open-minded and willing to take risks. His desire to put people first has fostered strong ties with the entire campus community and an engaging culture. Forgues champions a variety of innovative programs and initiatives, including Titan Recognition Week, the What Brings Us Together Luncheon and the university’s awards program. Forgues has been proactive in his support of diversity, equity and inclusion programs and encourages the expansion of faculty and staff associations. His innovative thinking has helped retain new talent at CSU Fullerton through the student employment mixer and has improved service orientation though a new online model that is more flexible and accessible to employees.

HR Excellence Award

Honoring transformative HR work in higher education and recognizing individuals or teams that have provided HR leadership resulting in significant and ongoing organizational change within their institutions. (Sponsored by AIG Retirement Services) 

University of Vermont’s New Employee Onboarding Program (Eastern Region)

The New Employee Onboarding program, made up of the division of HR, diversity and multicultural affairs and diversity and engagement units, consisted of an effective point-by-point approach that transformed recruitment, hiring and retention practices across campus. Since its inception, the program has fostered an improved sense of mission and community among employees, resulting in higher employee satisfaction and retention within the university. The program has heightened awareness among new employees, improved avenues for them to connect with other university employees and programs more quickly, and helped employees engage with the university’s culture in profound ways. New hires have reported having better tools, skills, connections and sense of culture since the program has been implemented.

Kellie Wilson, Kansas State University (Midwest Region)

Kellie Wilson has led significant and ongoing organizational change by streamlining HR processes, collaboratively leading a team to implement a revised process for non-university student hiring processes, and serving on an HRIS integration team. In revising the non-university student hiring process, Wilson collaborated with others to implement a template-based hiring process so that non-university students can easily apply. She partnered with internal and external stakeholders to implement the streamlined process and collaborated with others to craft communication to departments. She also conducted training sessions for departments in a variety of delivery methods to meet the need of stakeholders. Wilson’s leadership to transform the hiring process for non-university students has saved days in the hiring process.

University of Florida, UF’s Engaged Team (Southern Region)

In January 2018, the University of Florida discarded its annual performance appraisal system for staff and began evaluating other methods of performance development. The goal was to make the employee performance reviews a discussion, not a transaction, and to promote a culture of continuous engagement. In February 2019, UF Engaged was designed to encourage clear, timely and meaningful feedback and to facilitate more frequent conversations between managers and employees. The UF Engaged philosophy focuses on aligning the efforts and needs of individual employees with the needs and direction of the university. The alignment requires leaders to communicate desired performance outcomes for employees that directly contribute to the success of the organization, to identify resources and support needed to improve employee contributions, and to empower employees to identify and pursue growth and career development. Implementing the new process required a significant culture shift at the institution and a change management plan that informed, engaged and prepared UF staff for the new process.

Boise State Human Resources (Western Region)

The Boise State HR department was recently restructured to align with its desired vision of employee engagement and to respond to the rapidly changing workforce. The HR department developed a robust five-part People Strategy (vision, strategy, data-informed decisions, employee experience and people projects) that focuses on an inclusive work culture where everyone is valued and one’s daily work has meaning and fulfillment. The HR department then defined three distinct employee experiences to invest in: the Welcome Experience, the Growth Experience and the Farewell Experience. Throughout the restructuring process, the HR team gained leadership buy-in, participated in a listening tour and gained greater awareness and higher engagement scores.

Look for more awards recipients next week in another Higher Ed Workplace blog post.