The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

Award-Winning Work in Higher Ed HR

trophies_blogGreat work is being done by HR organizations at colleges and universities across the country. From innovations in processes and procedures to transformative HR work, from unique and forward-thinking diversity and inclusion initiatives to championing change, many HR organizations are successfully positioning themselves as strategic business partners and contributors to their institutions’ missions — and many institutional presidents are paving the way for HR to get the job done.

Each year, CUPA-HR recognizes these trailblazers with its Higher Education Human Resource Awards. Here are the stories behind some of the recipients of the past few years – perhaps they’ll spark an idea or two for your own HR department or provide some takeaways for you to ponder. (Oh, and by the way, we’re currently accepting nominations for this year’s awards program!)

Nathan Hatch, President of Wake Forest University (2015 Chief Executive HR Champion Award) In his 11 years at the helm of Wake Forest, Hatch has made several strategic investments in employee wellness, leadership development, diversity and inclusion, employee engagement and more, and has provided the resources and support necessary for the institution’s human resources organization to put plans into action.

Montana State University (2015 Inclusion Cultivates Excellence Award)MSU received last year’s Inclusion Cultivates Excellence award for its ADVANCE Project TRACS initiative, which aims to transform the university to be more equitable and inclusive and broaden the participation of women faculty in STEM and underrepresented areas of social and behavioral science (SBS). Thanks to ADVANCE Project TRACS, MSU has been able to implement several policies and programs in support of faculty, including a sick leave donation pool, a dual-career community placement liaison, a faculty partner accommodation program and a family care program. The initiative also paved the way for institution-wide unconscious bias training, search committee training, the creation of a search committee toolkit focused on broadening the candidate pool, and an equity advocate program.

University of California Irvine’s Care Cards Program (2015 HR Innovation Award) – Through the Care Cards program, employees who are injured on the job, take a medical leave of absence, have a baby or need a disability accommodation receive a customized greeting card in the mail from the workers’ compensation and disability management team. The cards, designed by UC Irvine students and HR staff, are designed to relay well wishes; provide information on who to contact with questions or concerns around leave, accommodations or claims; and jumpstart the interactive process.

Waded Cruzado, President of Montana State University (2014 Chief Executive HR Champion Award) – In her six years at the helm of MSU, Cruzado has made several strategic investments in the institution’s human resources organization, enabling it to become an integral part of decision making at the university. In addition to creating the position of chief human resources officer, affording HR a spot on her executive committee, she has offered her support of a total restructuring of HR (including the creation of four additional HR management positions), a physical move to a better suited building, the purchase and implementation of an electronic applicant tracking system, and the creation of a professional development and training function. Cruzado has also played an integral role in the university’s myriad employee engagement, employee recognition, leadership development and workforce diversity efforts.

University of Florida’s Online Promotion and Tenure Team (2014 HR Innovation Award) – Unable to find any existing technical solutions for a laborious promotion and tenure process, the University of Florida developed its own system. The online promotion and tenure process has reduced work time for faculty and staff, increased accessibility of materials for academic review board committee members, improved transparency at all review levels, and provided the ability for faculty members to monitor their progress throughout the promotion and tenure cycle.

Texas A&M Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace Certificate Program (2014 HR Innovation Award)Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace is an 18-month, multi-faceted certificate program designed to help employees recognize, accept and value differences among coworkers and others in the TAMU community. The program blends online training and classroom workshops with a variety of experiential activities and independent assignments. The program was built entirely in-house by HR employee and organizational development by repurposing and repackaging existing training courses and by utilizing existing TAMU and community-hosted workshops, seminars and lecture series.

California State University, Fullerton (2014 Inclusion Cultivates Excellence Award) When Mildred Garcia assumed the presidency of Cal State Fullerton in 2012, one of the first things she set out to do was increase diversity within the institution’s staff and faculty ranks. And she empowered the newly-created division of human resources, diversity and inclusion (HRDI) to lead the charge. From conducting diversity recruitment training for college deans, department chairs and faculty search committee chairs to implementing an e-recruitment program for faculty to gathering data on campus diversity and conducting campus climate assessments, HRDI has helped create real and lasting change at Cal State Fullerton.

University of Virginia’s Super Temps Program (2013 HR Innovation Award) – Super Temps is a two-week paid training program for exceptional temporary employees who possess superior interpersonal and technical skills with proven success in a senior-level administrative or project management role and a willingness to commit to long-term temporary work. The program helps to fill critical gaps of employment across UVA by equipping these temporary employees with the necessary training to enable them to step in to critical roles and make immediate impact on a temporary basis.

Northwestern Scholars Faculty Database (2013 HR Innovation Award) – Northwestern University’s office of human resources has found a way to do what every HR organization in a university setting strives to do: contribute in a meaningful way to the institution’s academic mission. As part of a focused effort to introduce more innovative university-wide talent strategies, HR created a robust faculty database designed to promote collaboration, boost productivity and attract new talent.

North Carolina Central University’s Quality Service Initiative (2012 HR Excellence Award) – NCCU was plagued for several years by less-than-stellar customer service, so human resources designed and implemented the Quality Service Initiative (QSI). The QSI team utilized several tools and resources to enhance customer service on campus, including suggestion boxes and online forms to solicit feedback from constituents; mystery shoppers and mystery callers; a QSI website; web-based customer service training; a freshman survey on their experience with customer service on campus; QSI presentations for faculty and staff institutes, freshman orientation and student organizations; a tie-in to performance management; and individual action plans to help improve processes and enhance the delivery of services.

Is your team, your president or your institution doing award-worthy work? Submit a nomination for this year’s Higher Education HR Awards. The nomination deadline is March 2.