Press Release

May 20, 2019

Oregon Health & Science University Receives CUPA-HR’s Inclusion Cultivates Excellence Award for Its Job Carving Program

Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) has received the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) 2019 Inclusion Cultivates Excellence Award. This award recognizes and celebrates institutional initiatives and programs that have made a significant impact with respect to inclusive and equitable workplace practices, particularly those that have brought about cultural change throughout the organization. Thanks to the generous support of EyeMed, CUPA-HR is pleased to offer a $6,000 contribution to OHSU’s endowment or scholarship fund.

In 2015, OHSU established its Community Advisory Council for Recruiting and Retaining Persons with Disabilities, made up of OHSU leaders and employees, external job developers, job counselors and coaches, and representatives from various disability advocacy organizations. As the largest employer in Portland, OHSU had the goal to create large-scale employment impact for community members with disabilities by making OHSU more accessible and supportive for candidates. Since 2015, the council has grown from 15 members to more than 190 members, helping OHSU leaders understand how to best address differing needs and integration of people with disabilities into the workforce.

“Developing impactful employment opportunities for people with a variety of skills and abilities is not only possible, it positively impacts workplace diversity and celebrates the value that people living with disabilities offer,” says Rhonda Eppelsheimer, co-director of the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at OHSU. “This recognition by CUPA-HR acknowledges a strong commitment across OHSU and the broader community to make this program a successful reality.”

The council’s first initiative was to develop the OHSU Job Carving Program, designed to assist people with disabilities in obtaining permanent employment as well as provide these individuals with opportunities to thrive in their workplace. Position descriptions were developed by evaluating what duties and tasks were not getting done due to other competing priorities. From those results, a new job role, support services aide, was created to take on those overlooked tasks, helping existing teams perform their work more efficiently while creating part-time work that aligned with the abilities of the new employee. OHSU created a new job classification that required that eligible candidates have a contract with Oregon Vocational Rehabilitation Services and have a job developer and coach, which helps the support service aides to become more confident, competent and comfortable in the new working environment.

“The success of an organization is dependent upon its ability to embrace and amplify the diverse skillsets, experiences and insights of its employees,” says OHSU chief operating officer Joe Ness. “Through its Job Carving Program, OHSU has increased its diverse workforce, solved employment and business needs, and helped to instill independence and confidence in the unique members of our community.”

Since the program began, 32 individuals with disabilities have been hired for permanent support services aide positions, and OHSU aims to expand the program internally and externally in the region.


CUPA-HR is higher ed HR. We serve higher education by providing the knowledge, resources, advocacy and connections to achieve organizational and workforce excellence. Headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee, and serving over 31,000 HR professionals and other campus leaders at more than 2,000 member institutions and organizations around the country and abroad, the association offers learning and professional development programs, higher education salary and benefits data, extensive online resources and just-in-time regulatory and legislative information.

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