The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

“It’s the Economy, Stupid!”

For those of us who work in higher ed, this is probably the most important article that you will read this week. Budget shortfalls and changes in state support very clearly top the list of the most pressing issues for college and university campuses according to campus CEOs. Well, duh. If these issues were not at the top of the list for a CEO, we would have to immediately find the yellow brick road that takes us to that campus! As expected, most campuses have responded with changes you would expect…cutting admin costs, hiring more part-time faculty, raising tuition and student fees. What many institutions are not doing (according to the survey) is making some really tough decisions about cutting fixed costs such as unsustainable benefits guarantees to retirees and making real, substantial changes to the core business model for their institutions.

Employee costs are easily the largest “cost” for institutions (and rightly so), but what are we HR professionals contributing to the conversation and decision-making that is proactive instead of reactive? As HR professionals, we must be willing to suggest different business models and different, more efficient, staffing models to support the needs of the institution.  Our campus CEOs need our help in wrestling with these issues…even if they don’t naturally think of their chief HR officer( CHRO) as a critical contributor to the conversation and decision-making. For those CHROs who are not part of the proactive conversations and decision-making, it is definitely time to step up and offer guidance and suggestions. I am extending this invitation to you even if your campus CEOs have not yet done so. Your help and guidance is needed. Now its your responsibility to figure out the necessary channels to use so that you can be heard.

I know that many higher ed CHROs are helping drive conversations and decision-making during these very challenging budget times. I welcome your feedback to this post to share with us what you are doing to contribute to the development of better business models and staffing models for your campus.

Andy Brantley