President Daniele Struppa’s Commitment to HR and the Employee Experience Generates Positive Outcomes for Chapman University

2021 Higher Education HR Awards

Daniele Struppa, president of Chapman University,
is the recipient of CUPA-HR’s 2021 Chief Executive HR Champion Award.

Sponsored by


During his tenure at Chapman University, President Daniele Struppa has been a tireless champion of HR. The institution has experienced many positive outcomes because of his initiatives and commitments to build out and transform HR, recognizing HR as an organizational driver as opposed to a cost center. Working with HR, President Struppa’s goal is to make Chapman University a place where “people fight to get into, love to support, don’t want to leave, and never forget.”

Investing in Human Capital

President Struppa endorsed HR’s 10-year human capital strategic plan and followed with an infusion of resources, allowing the HR team to double in size from 17 to 34 employees. These infusions of human capital were matched with operating budgets to design and develop programming to support the campus. As a result, existing services were expanded and new areas of investment were funded, including learning and development, talent acquisition and organizational development as a discipline housed within HR.

A Focus on Data Analytics

As a data-driven decision-maker, President Struppa, along with Chapman’s chief operating officer and the chief HR officer, identified some key data gaps that created barriers for smart workforce planning. He became a vocal proponent of “digital HR” and of Chapman’s goal to democratize data and approved a multimillion-dollar infusion into HR data analytics infrastructure to help boost and better manage talent and total rewards.

The Chapman Experience

In 2017, President Struppa embarked on a bold initiative known as “The Chapman Experience.” This community-based approach was designed with students, faculty, staff, alumni and parent community partners in mind. At the conclusion of the discovery phase, where input was collected from these constituents and coincided with the hiring of a new chief HR officer, President Struppa made the strategic decision that showcases his people-centric approach to leadership: he asked the new chief HR officer to become the executive sponsor of the initiative.

“By showcasing his support and confidence in HR to lead this broad-based community effort, President Struppa signaled to the campus that HR was uniquely positioned to create service and response structures to enhance the employee experience and the student experience,” says Brian Powell, vice president and chief HR officer at Chapman University.

Commitment to DEI

President Struppa has demonstrated strong advocacy in the areas of campus culture and diversity. In 2017, he commissioned a diversity panel of faculty and staff to devise a strategic plan for diversity, equity and inclusion. He directed both faculty and staff hiring centers to amplify diversity hiring and promotion to create the most inclusive and reflective community the university has seen to date.

Leadership Development and Retention

President Struppa believes firmly that the most meaningful relationship on campus is between supervisor and direct report. Equipping supervisors with the tools and skills needed to be successful has driven not only his support for, but also investment in, learning and professional development opportunities, such as sponsored management and executive coaching for key leaders across campus so that they have dedicated and professional external advisors to support their development and maintain ongoing engagement with their work. The results include increased satisfaction and impressive leadership retention numbers at a time when campuses across the country were competing for innovative leadership talent.

About the Chief Executive HR Champion Award:
CUPA-HR’s Chief Executive HR Champion Award honors a president or chancellor of a higher education institution or system who has demonstrated significant support for the institution’s human resources function. Thanks to support from Segal, the award comes with an $8,000 contribution to the recipient’s institutional endowment or a scholarship fund. Learn more.