Chief Human Resources Officer
University of Oregon
The University of Oregon seeks an innovative and strategic leader as Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO). She or he will have a broad vision for the role of human resources in achieving institutional excellence and a strong track record in building and supporting processes and initiatives that promote the treatment of personnel as an organization’s most important asset. The CHRO will provide leadership for the planning and implementation of quality-based, integrated human resources programs, acting as steward of employee resources in service to the University’s academic mission and core educational administrative objectives. She or he oversees:
- Recruitment and hiring;
- Workforce succession planning and management development;
- Employee relations and conflict resolution;
- Staff labor relations;
- Total compensation and classification structures;
- Benefits planning and administration;
- Human resources information systems; and
- Development of human resource policies to ensure a fair and equitable workplace.
The ideal candidate will possess an advanced degree; strong technical knowledge of human resource functions and technology; a passion for creating a high performing organization with a strong commitment to service and accountability; and a deep interest in building strong relationships of trust with faculty and staff. The CHRO will be astute at navigating an evolving political landscape, skilled at leading change in a decentralized environment, and will possess the organizational development expertise to shape an effective infrastructure to support human resources across the University.
Overview of the Organization
Founded in 1876, the University of Oregon (UO) is the flagship research university of the Oregon University System, a network of seven public universities across the state that also includes Oregon State, Portland State, Eastern Oregon, Southern Oregon, and Western Oregon Universities, and the Oregon Institute of Technology. Designated a Carnegie Doctoral/Research Extensive University, UO is a world class public teaching and research institution that offers nearly 300 comprehensive academic programs providing breadth and depth in the liberal arts and sciences as well as professional programs. In recognition of the quality of its teaching and research, the University is one of 62 members of the Association of American Universities, and one of only two AAU universities in the greater Northwest. Although similar to its fellow AAU members in the quality of its research and teaching, UO’s character is distinctly different – smaller, more intimate in educational experience, with a research profile that has always been highly multidisciplinary.
The University of Oregon’s academic programs are organized into nine degree-granting schools and colleges: the School of Architecture and Allied Arts, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Education, the Robert D. Clark Honors College, the School of Law, the Lundquist College of Business, the School of Journalism and Communication, the School of Music and Dance, and the Graduate School. These units offer more than 100 undergraduate majors and more than 150 graduate degree programs, and grant more than 5,000 degrees per year in a wide range of fields. The UO has particular strength in the natural and physical sciences, psychology and neuroscience, environment and sustainability, special education, sustainable design, journalism, entrepreneurship and sports business, environmental law, fine and creative arts, and interdisciplinary programs such as environmental studies and alternative dispute resolution. The Robert D. Clark Honors College is the oldest four-year public Honors College in the country. The nation’s first Molecular Biology Institute was founded at the UO in 1959 and continues to engage in world class research.
The university’s academic programs are grounded in a liberal arts education within a comprehensive research university. They promote the attainment of AAU excellence on a human scale, which includes the cultivation of intellectual virtues and communities. Many of the university’s graduate programs are ranked in the top 25 percent in the nation. The university aims to enroll, engage, and retain a diverse community of students and faculty to ensure excellence in the education it provides. Under the Provost’s leadership, the UO community developed an Academic Plan to guide future decisions. The plan affirms the university’s commitment to a core of liberal education, to an academic program maintained on a human scale, to a curriculum shaped by respectful stewardship of human and natural resources, to institutional agility in balancing multidisciplinary innovations with traditional disciplinary strengths, to cooperative leadership and engagement with the community, and to a spirit of resourceful creativity. As part of this process, the UO has grown its student body and will further increase its tenure-track faculty to accommodate this growth.
Research, innovation, and graduate education are at the heart of what makes the UO a nationally prominent flagship university. The quality of faculty and graduate students is reflected by continued growth in externally sponsored dollars for research, outreach and public service; the number of prestigious awards and honors; the high national ranking of graduate programs in psychology, biology, geography, special education, architecture, and sustainable design; and the high proportion of licensing income per research dollar (among the top 20 in the country).
The UO employs more than 1,900 tenure-related (715) and non-tenure track faculty, and 2700 staff. The university’s faculty is exceptional in its productivity, and many faculty members are nationally and internationally prominent and respected and the recipients of many prestigious awards. University staff is categorized as officers of administration, officers of research, and classified employees. Officers of administration are unclassified (i.e., not part of the Oregon University System classification scheme and not represented by a union) administrative personnel serving as supervisors, managers, administrators, confidential office workers, advisors, counselors, and professional academic support. There are some 1,500 classified employees represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) who work under a contract negotiated by the Oregon University System. Classified employees are often on the front lines providing direct level services to students, including office service workers, nurses, engineers and trades, and maintenance staff. The faculty successfully organized in 2012 and is represented by the AAUP, although not all faculty members are part of the union (e.g. faculty in the Law School and faculty with administrative and sponsored research supervisory responsibility are not included). Negotiations for the initial collective bargaining agreement began in December 2012.
The UO operates under a model of shared governance, with governance shared by three groups: 1) the president and central administration; 2) the UO Senate, composed of faculty, staff and students to represent the entire campus community; and 3) a general assembly of the “statutory faculty.” The UO’s model of shared governance promotes consultation, collaboration, and transparency among the administration, faculty, students, and staff. All campus stakeholders have a responsibility to protect the academic integrity of the institution, ensuring a professional and respectful workplace and sound stewardship of the state’s flagship public university.
The university currently has an enrollment of nearly 24,500 students. The UO student body is composed of students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, two U.S. territories, and 89 countries around the world. More than 40 percent of the total student body comes from outside the state; about 17 percent are ethnic minorities – the majority of these are Hispanic or Latino, Asian, and Pacific Islander; about eight percent of the student body is international. Graduate education is an important component of the university’s academic program. There are about 3,800 graduate students enrolled at the UO, including students from the College of Arts and Sciences and six professional schools. Almost 80% of full time doctoral students and 30% of full time master’s degree students receive funding as Graduate Teaching Fellows for instructional, research or administrative work. Graduate assistants are unionized under the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation, American Federation of Teachers. The University has more than 200,000 active alumni around the globe with more than 60,000 alumni in Oregon alone.
The university’s beautiful campus sits on 295 acres along the Willamette River in Eugene, Oregon, a city known for its quality of life, arts and outdoor recreational opportunities. The Eugene-Springfield metropolitan region is situated at the southern end of the Willamette Valley, about two hours from Portland and one hour from the Pacific coast and the Cascade Mountains. The UO is known for the quality of its outdoor programs, enabling a range of research, sports, and recreational activities in the Cascade Mountains, an abundance of rivers including the Willamette, McKenzie, Columbia, Rogue, and Deschutes, and the Pacific Ocean. Hiking, biking, running, rafting, and fly-fishing are popular year-round activities.
In addition to the main campus in Eugene, the university operates other programs and facilities across the state, including: Pine Mountain Observatory in Central Oregon; the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology on the Oregon coast; and innovative undergraduate academic outreach and service learning experiences. The university has an important and growing presence in Portland where academic and professional programs are offered in a landmark facility, The White Stag Block.
The UO Foundation (UOF) is a private 501(c)3 organization that exists to serve the university. The UOF receives, manages and distributes private gifts to the university and manages the university’s endowment, currently valued at approximately $500 million, with assets that now total approximately $800 million. As a private entity, UOF can purchase property, access external funding sources for the university, and handle other activities that as a public entity, the university is unable to do. The UOF is governed by a 42-member Board of Trustees, composed primarily of University alumni, many of whom are significant donors.
Despite the state and national economy, the university continues to receive consistent and generous support from thousands of alumni, friends, foundations, and corporations. It has also benefited from the strong support of several key donors who have contributed generously to academic and athletic programs. Total fundraising for FY 2012 was $107.6 million, the fifth consecutive year to exceed $100 million.
Currently, the Oregon State Board of Higher Education is the statutory governing board of each institution and appoints university presidents. The current system of educational governance and accountability is in a process of transition. Through legislation approved by the Oregon Legislative Assembly (Senate Bill 242), effective January 1, 2012 the status of the Oregon University System changed from a state agency to a public university system. The net result of this change is greater operational flexibility for each campus. The legislation also created a new Higher Education Coordinating Commission to coordinate educational activities in the state and ensure a strong level of accountability in the achievement of agreed upon performance outcomes. Additional legislation last year also created the Oregon Education Investment Board (Senate Bill 909). The purpose of the board, which is chaired by the Governor, is to oversee an effort to create a seamless, unified system for investing in and delivering public education from early childhood through high school and college so that all Oregonians are well prepared for success in the 21st century. As part of this process, the state has established what is known as the “40-40-20 goal,” an expectation that 40 percent of state adults will achieve at least a bachelor’s degree, 40 percent will achieve an associate’s degree or meaningful post-secondary certificate, and 20 percent will achieve at least a high school diploma. Funding for Oregon educational institutions, including its public universities, will be linked to the achievement of outcomes articulated through compacts established with the Oregon Education Investment Board. A special interim legislative committee made recommendations for legislation for the 2013 Legislative Session which will allow the public universities to choose to have their own institutional governing boards, a move the University has supported. The exact scope and authorities of the institutional governing boards will be determined in the 2013 Legislative Session. During the same session, the Legislature is expected to further define governance of Oregon’s educational institutions.
The University of Oregon has total FY 2012 revenues of $813 million. Approximately $47.5 million comes from state support through the Oregon University System, accounting for 5.8 percent of the UO’s operating budget. Tuition accounts for 40 percent of annual revenues, and gifts, grants, and contracts account for about 19 percent. The state has steadily reduced support for higher education over the last three decades through a period of tax and expenditure limitations enacted by voters. As a result, the UO has become increasingly self-sustaining and self-reliant through effective management of tuition and fee revenues, increased sponsored research and commercialization revenues, and increased philanthropic support.
Record enrollment growth, particularly over the last four years, necessitates investment in faculty, support services and infrastructure. It is critical that the UO have access to capital. Working with the Oregon University System and statewide leaders, the UO continues to seek authority and greater autonomy to use bonds to fund critical investments—within the state’s and the university’s acceptable debt capacity. That level of authority currently resides at the State Board level and with the establishment of an institutional board would move to the UO.
UO is led by Michael Gottfredson, who took office as President in August 2012. His senior leadership includes the Senior Vice President and Provost, James Bean; the Vice President for Finance & Administration & CFO, Jamie Moffitt, the Vice President for Development, General Counsel, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, and Vice Presidents for Enrollment Management, Equity and Inclusion, Research and Innovation, Student Affairs, and University Relations.
This is a time of immense opportunity for the University, with new leadership, a changing relationship to the Oregon University System that will provide greater autonomy, and a renewed spirit of cooperation that is fueled by a desire to move the institution forward to achieve greater excellence. Within this environment, a vibrant and proactive Human Resources function will play a strategic role in ensuring the University’s ability to attract and retain excellent faculty and staff in a fair and consistent workforce environment in a time of significant change. Having a responsive and customer-focused human resources environment is critical to the University’s efforts to institute a culture of service that promotes employee and student satisfaction.
Human Resources at the University of Oregon
Within the University’s highly decentralized administrative structure, human resources functions have been split across several administrative responsibility centers in addition to being handled by individual colleges and schools. For example, classified employment, work-life resources, benefits administration, organizational development and training, officers of administration (‘OA’) employment and HR office management have all reported to the Associate Vice President of Human Resources, who reported to the Vice President for Finance and Administration & CFO. The Director of Affirmative Action also reports to the Vice President for Finance and Administration & CFO and participates in search-related matters generally. The Director of Unclassified Personnel Services handled faculty and officers of administration appointments and reported to the Provost.
With the retirement of the Associate Vice President of Human Resources and after wide consultation with senior leadership and staff, the Vice President for Finance and Administration & CFO will be bringing Human Resources, Unclassified Personnel Services, and components of Affirmative Action under the direction of a new Chief Human Resources Officer, who will help the organization strategize how best to provide personnel-related services and support to the campus. All direct faculty-related responsibilities and processes, such as promotion and tenure and development of faculty policies, will remain in the Provost’s office, although they will be supported by this new position. Polices and processes relating to officers of administration will be coordinated by the CHRO. These changes are intended to clarify the misperceptions regarding authority and responsibility that inevitably result from having so many entry points and to build more transparency into HR processes. The new role of CHRO will provide a level of strategic leadership to consider how the university’s human assets can be supported most effectively to meet the university’s academic and educational objectives.
In putting together the new organization, the CHRO will be faced with a range of opportunities and challenges:
- The University’s workplace environment has become more unionized, with the recent organization of the faculty union, represented by the AAUP, in 2012, although not all faculty are part of the union. The CHRO will need to be skilled in working with these diverse constituencies and able to navigate lines of communication while ensuring transparency and fairness in interpretation of policy.
- The only non-represented group is the officers of administration, with whose Council the CHRO will need to work closely in addressing issues affecting this constituency. One important priority is the need for a job organization and compensation audit to ensure that OA job descriptions, titles, and pay scales are consistent and equitable across the university. In addition, the performance evaluation process needs reexamination.
- The changing organizational structure for HR leaves faculty personnel decisions under the responsibility of the Provost’s office with assistance in the process provided by HR. The new CHRO will need to demonstrate sensitivity around these issues while assuring consistency in procedures.
- The decentralized nature of the university requires that the CHRO be skilled in balancing the need for consistency and fairness in interpretation of policy with the business needs of the individual units, colleges, and schools.
- Human Resource administrative systems and procedures need additional automation. The appointments process, for example, is in need of streamlining while other processes also may be improved with the introduction of more technology.
- Onboarding of new faculty and staff is generally considered to be somewhat variable often making it difficult for new employees to know where to go, whom to call, or how to acclimate. Indeed, the University has been described as “a culture of individual connections.”
- Training and development around HR policies and processes, supervision, and management continues to improve but could be enhanced by proactive presentations of timely issues such as sexual harassment, discipline, workload issues, drug and alcohol workplace issues, and workplace health and wellness.
- There is a growing body of knowledge and experience to support HR efforts as universities and other organizations around the country grapple with strategies to make their institutions more effective. This provides an opportunity for the University to learn from the successes and failures of others and to adapt ideas and best practices that will work for UO.
- With the increased independence of the University of Oregon, the HR organization will take on the administration of the 401(a) and 403(b) retirement plans as well as other human resource functions.
The new organizational structure provides the opportunity for a strategic CHRO to think systemically about building a vibrant and contemporary HR function that will have tremendous impact in transforming the university workplace. The CHRO will be joining a strong and well-functioning university leadership team that is willing to work together towards common goals and dedicated to the University’s aspirations for excellence in all aspects of its environment.
The Chief Human Resources Officer, who holds the title of Associate Vice President, has overall responsibility for providing vision and strategic leadership for the planning and implementation of quality-based integrated human resources programs for all officers of administration, faculty, staff and student employees of the University of Oregon. The CHRO acts as steward of employee resources in service to the University’s academic and research mission and core educational and administrative objectives. The CHRO reports to the Vice President for Finance and Administration & CFO and is part of the Vice President’s leadership team, which includes heads of campus operations, campus planning and real estate, institutional research, UO police, budget and resource planning, business affairs, enterprise risk services, and the chief of staff for the VPFA & CFO, who oversees parking and transportation, Johnson Hall information technology services, purchasing and contracting, and printing and mailing.
The CHRO leads a University-wide HR operation that is responsible for the development of an HR strategy, HR management, implementation of well-conceived and designed programs, and synchronization of HR processes, systems, policies and procedures pertaining to all HR activities. With oversight from the Vice President for Finance and Administration & CFO, the CHRO coordinates HR-related functions for faculty with the Office of Academic Affairs and works collaboratively with finance, budget, information technology, Office of the Vice President for Equity and Inclusion, Office of the General Counsel and other University leadership. She or he is responsible for designing plans that facilitate the University’s evolution into an organization that drives superior value, excellence in leadership, efficiency, consistency and fairness, customer service, and organizational capacity.
The CHRO currently has direct reports with responsibility for classified employment, work-life resources, benefits administration, organizational development and training, unclassified personnel services, and office management with responsibility for an overall organization of approximately 33 full-time staff as well as student employees. The CHRO also serves as a resource and provides support for other University executives and deans in the human resource management of their colleges, schools, and units. The CHRO oversees a budget of about $3 million. Currently the University participates in the state-wide employee benefits program for public employees. The CHRO advocates actively for the needs of employees at all levels of the university as well as the state system of higher education.
The CHRO will be leading an HR function that is valued by many for its leadership in helping to mediate and solve individual personnel issues. In addition to continuing this important activity, the CHRO will be responsible for achieving progress on a range of priorities. In the short term, she or he will need to meet, listen to, and build trust with constituents across the university, evaluate the new organization to ensure that staff has the appropriate competencies and skill sets, and create an organizational structure and programs that will be coherent, responsive, and customer-oriented. Longer term, she or he will need to identify areas for improvement and work with departments and units on strategies to improve consistency and fairness in the application of policies and procedures. The CHRO will be expected to improve HR processes, through technological innovations and systems enhancements, and help the university move towards an on-demand, electronic environment and a greater service mentality in dealing with all constituents.
Initial Key Opportunities
Besides becoming familiar with HR issues within and around the campus and the University’s various constituencies and communities, the foremost challenges will include:
- Determining the optimal structure and programs of the CHRO organization;
- Implementing changes to ensure they support the needs of the University community and engage with every constituency, including faculty;
- Building strong collaborative relationships internally with deans, university administrative and executive leadership, and representatives of shared governance, including the OA Council and classified and faculty unions;
- Working with the Vice President for Finance and Administration & CFO to facilitate a new HR Governance Council as a regular mechanism to discuss HR issues and programs;
- Tackling key initiatives in streamlining and modernizing HR processes around appointments, contracts, and other key areas.
Additional Specific Responsibilities
- Provide strategic leadership in the formulation of policy and planning for all human resources functions, including recruitment and selection, workforce succession planning, total compensation, organizational learning and development, human resource information systems and technology, employee and labor relations, retirement planning, benefits counseling and administration, employee records, and related issues;
- In collaboration with the Vice President for Finance and Administration & CFO and other leaders with appointment authority, plan and direct operations, programs, and policies for all HR functions;
- Review staffing needs in collaboration with University leadership; streamline hiring programs to ensure greater efficiency while ensuring appropriate compliance with standards of employment; review the quality of professional development and guidance to faculty, officers of administration, staff, and student employees;
- Provide the impetus for the planning of future employee/staff/faculty-related programs; develop and operate a plan of continuous performance evaluation of programs and employee effectiveness within the University based on benchmarking and competitive positioning and well-conceived HR metrics;
- Work in close collaboration with deans, faculty, and other departments and units across the University to create shared responsibility for human resource initiatives and programs, including performance evaluation of staff; build consensus and broaden ownership of goals and means, and create a level of consistency throughout the University;
- Coordinate, collaborate with and provide support for campus initiatives to recruit, retain, and advance a diverse faculty and staff; work with the Office of the Vice President for Equity and Inclusion to oversee development and implementation of training focusing on diversity in the workplace;
- Prepare and coordinate the annual budget for human resources;
- Encourage and support an atmosphere conducive to high faculty and staff morale; provide fair and objective review of all questions of concern to the faculty and staff and evaluate the results of such activity;
- Direct the development and implementation of a total compensation and rewards philosophy and programs designed to attract and retain the highest quality faculty and staff to the University and recommend the most effective use of available resources to meet these goals;
- Serve as the University’s senior representative and spokesperson on labor relations and contacts with the SEIU. Participate and advise on collective bargaining of contracts related to the SEIU and with the AAUP for faculty and other collective bargaining units, as requested;
- Work with the OUS system on matters related to system-wide benefits and other programs;
- Oversee the development and execution of a comprehensive proactive and positive employee relations communication plan in all areas of human resources.
- Handle other initiatives as requested by the Vice President for Finance and Administration & CFO.
Key Selection Criteria
To be successful in this role, the CHRO must possess outstanding leadership qualities, vision, and strategic ability along with a strong commitment to service and accountability. In addition to exceptional technical skills and management abilities, the CHRO must have proven experience as a program builder, a passion for delivering high quality service, deep interest in building strong relationships with faculty and staff, the ability to develop and mentor staff, superior interpersonal and communication skills, a collaborative and flexible decision-making style, a hands-on orientation that pays attention to detail, the ability to ask questions and to lead the kind of ongoing organizational change that is vital to a healthy and competitive institution. The CHRO must fit within an Oregon culture that values collaboration, teamwork, equity and inclusion, clarity of decision-making, independent thinking, an understanding of egalitarian ideals, and a level of sophisticated leadership that will balance priorities and place the larger mission of the institution in the forefront.
The successful candidate may come with a variety of different experiences from other academic institutions, from research-focused or healthcare organizations, from complex not-for-profit organizations, from consulting organizations, or from the public or private sector. The finalist must complete a background check.
In evaluating candidates, the following criteria are essential:
- Strong technical knowledge of human resources functions and technology with extensive experience in the administration of compensation and benefits programs;
- Strong leadership skills with demonstrated competencies in making complex decisions; successfully developing and implementing short and long-term objectives; aligning resources with strategy; delegating effectively; managing effective work processes; exercising good judgment about people; focusing on results; building strong relationships; and relating well to diverse constituents;
- An accomplished record of leadership in developing a genuine service ethic within human resources and promoting an environment of customer service, support and satisfaction throughout the institution; demonstrated success utilizing technology to deliver dynamic and responsive services and support to a range of constituencies;
- Strong quantitative skills, analytical capability and the ability to think systemically to help the University in determining appropriate policies and programs, planning benchmarking activity and human resource metrics, and tracking organizational performance;
- A strong foundation and expertise in financial management with the ability to make good judgments in a resource-constrained environment; ability to develop and implement the budget to achieve goals while assuring effectiveness of resources to support and reward faculty and staff performance and excellence;
- Ability to work effectively with leadership, governance, and faculty across a wide range of academic and business operations areas with multiple constituents and to serve as an advisor and consultant to these groups;
- A demonstrated commitment and record of promoting diversity, including ethnic and gender diversity, in the faculty and staff;
- Demonstrated success in managing organizational change and developing and retaining talent, with a proven track record of producing operational and financial results;
Additional Professional Requirements
- Must have a Bachelor’s degree with an advanced degree strongly preferred; experience in a higher educational setting and SPHR or other appropriate professional certifications are desirable;
- A minimum of five to ten years of progressive management experiences in a complex organization serving multiple constituencies; a demonstrated understanding of higher education and its operations would be strongly preferred;
- Experience in labor relations, specifically in negotiating and interpreting collective bargaining agreements, is strongly preferred;
- Strong working knowledge of state and federal employment laws and regulations;
- Ability to collaborate effectively with administrators, staff, faculty, and students;
- Experience in managing personnel, evaluating work performance and training staff; a demonstrated commitment to their personal and professional development and to building a strong organizational team culture;
Additional Personal Qualities and Competencies
- Must demonstrate creative leadership, innovation, and a mindset of continuous improvement; enthusiasm; a style that is genuine, open and engaging;good judgment in recognizing talent and assessing where improvements are needed; the ability to make appropriate connections and build synergies; an open and creative approach to problem solving and a willingness to address issues without territoriality;
- Must be smart, confident, motivated, self-directed, and solutions-oriented with a can-do upbeat attitude, flexibility, resilience, the ability to work under pressure and to manage numerous deadlines simultaneously;
- Collaborative, consultative, and team-oriented leadership style; must be a team builder and a team player with the ability to energize and empower others; a willingness to jump into the trenches when necessary;
- Excellent oral written communication and interpersonal skills together with excellent listening skills;the ability to seek out, understand and enable diverse viewpoints and approaches to achieve university goals;
- A fair, firm, and compassionate administrator who can confront and make hard decisions and will vigorously promote equity and inclusion within the institution; a reputation for transparency, integrity and high ethical standards of excellence;
- Must be willing to make a commitment to helping the organization realize its long-term objectives and to seeing initiatives through to completion.
The University of Oregon is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution committed to cultural diversity and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
For additional information, please consult the University’s website at uoregon.edu.
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