The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

Lean in to the Uncomfortable — 3 Ways Higher Ed HR Can Lead the Charge for DEI

by Jill Thompson

“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” This sobering statement echoed throughout CUPA-HR’s recent town hall meeting, where higher ed HR panelists discussed how to tackle systemic racism on campus and urged higher ed HR pros to challenge leaders and rethink policies and procedures that perpetuate ongoing inequalities and create barriers to inclusivity. Panelists shared these three ways to lean in to uncomfortable conversations as we lead the charge for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

NSF Issues Guidance on Award Salary and Benefit Payments and Suspension of Operations


On June 25, the National Science Foundation (NSF) issued guidance implementing the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)’s Memorandum M-20-26, “Extension of Administrative Relief for Recipients and Applicants of Federal Financial Assistance Directly Impacted by the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Due to Loss of Operations.” OMB’s M-20-26 extends administrative relief from certain requirements under the regulations governing federal grants and agreements. The administrative relief was issued “to allow a responsible transition to normal operations” for federally funded projects following the COVID-19 economic shutdown.

Form I-9 and E-Verify: What’s Changed Due to COVID-19?

by Brian Roe

This past spring, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced temporary flexibility in complying with Form I-9 requirements. While the initial extension deadline was set for mid-June, DHS has again extended its policy due to continued precautions related to COVID-19. As for E-Verify, timeframes to take action to resolve Tentative Nonconfirmations (TNCs) are being extended.

Become a Better Champion for DEI by Focusing on These Three Areas


The tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks and too many others have prompted a flood of angry voices demanding justice and radical change. Many of us have joined those voices in our communities. As higher ed HR leaders committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, we are also uniquely positioned to be voices for change — and to amplify the voices already at work — on our campuses. But where do we start? We start by listening. When we actively listen to employees’ experiences, thoughts and emotions around racial injustice, we learn from their perspectives and equip ourselves with new lenses. These conversations aren’t easy, but it’s time to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Three Benefits of Using CUPA-HR’s DataOnDemand for H-1B Prevailing Wage Determination for New and Furloughed Employees

by Missy Kline

As higher education institutions consider changes in their workforce in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, they may be tasked with furloughing faculty, professionals, or postdocs who are foreign nationals. The Department of Labor (DOL) requires that all H-1B employees be paid the required prevailing wage during nonproductive times. Not only can you speed up your H-1B application process by using CUPA-HR’s DataOnDemand tool when hiring foreign nationals, but you can also obtain a prevailing wage determination for H-1B employees who are being furloughed during nonproductive times.

Returning to the Workplace: Adapting Workspaces and Operations to Keep Employees Safe

by Lakyn Whaley

Social distancing — We must acknowledge that the world we return to post-pandemic will not be the same one we left. One of the most notable impacts we’re likely to encounter on a daily basis will be a difference in our physical workplaces. With social distancing guidelines still at the top of recommended preventative action from the CDC, we can expect to see fundamental differences in the way our workplaces are organized, staffed and operated.

HR and the Courts


CUPA-HR General Counsel Ira Shepard highlights recent rulings around a retaliatory discharge lawsuit concerning workplace safety and protocols for PPE in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a federal district court judge removing attorneys from a retaliatory discharge case because of misrepresentation and harassment of defendants, the U.S. Court of Appeals rejecting AFL-CIO’s lawsuit demanding OSHA issue temporary workplace safety standards applicable to the spread of COVID-19, and more.

Returning to the Workplace: Employee Expectations

by Lakyn Whaley

Teleworking arrangements necessitated by COVID-19 were an entirely new experience for many higher ed employees. While some may have initially struggled to adjust to a virtual workspace, shelter-in-place directives have given workers time to settle into this new way of work — just in time to shake things up again. Now, institutions are thinking about transitioning employees back to the office and should be aware of employee work expectations that may carry over from home to the office after months of relaxed standards.

Checking in Again With Jay Stephens: Focus on the Future


CUPA-HR Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Rob Shomaker is back again with Jay Stephens, vice president for human capital services at Kansas State University. Jay explains how Kansas State is moving from crisis mode to focusing on the future and offers advice on planning for a fall return to campus.