Navigating Bumps in the Road

December 5, 2012

Change can be difficult — including some of the Changing for Excellence transitions. In this Provost eNews, I’ll report on some big bumps we’ve encountered implementing HR and faculty recruiting components and lay out important progress.

Most of all, this message is about thanks and appreciation. I continue to be amazed at the dedication and resiliency of our university community. It gives me great confidence for the future.

Tremendous credit goes to our dedicated staff:  You continue to come together to smooth out bumps in the road and meet the goals of Changing for Excellence — to reduce inefficiencies, remove limitations, and focus resources so we can achieve KU’s mission of educating leaders, building healthy communities, and making discoveries that will change the world.

Developing excellence in people: HR recruiting changes

It is clear that the Oracle talent acquisition management module (TAM) is not how we want to present KU to prospective faculty and staff. In the first few weeks of TAM, a little more than 10% of job applicants were not able to complete applications. HR staff have contacted those applicants so they may reapply.

To help alleviate the difficulties in the short term, we have consolidated all faculty search materials onto Hawkdrive, giving search committees a central location to use for evaluating applications. In addition, should any search committees wish to readvertise to further enhance their applicant pools, the Provost’s Office will cover ensuing costs.

Diane Goddard, vice provost for administration and finance, and her team are working with stakeholders across campus to implement a long-term solution by the end of this academic year. We are exploring all available alternatives for a robust recruitment system that will provide both a user-friendly interface for applicants and a rich set of tools to help search committees review applicant materials.

This situation has been frustrating, most of all to HR staff. The failings of TAM have limited their ability to provide the quality of service they demand of themselves. HR director Ola Faucher will continue to provide regular updates to campus hiring managers, both during the short term this academic year and regarding our long-term solution.

Other HR changes: HR/Pay, performance management, staff development, and compensation study

In the previous Provost eNews, I noted major progress in facilities, IT, and shared service centers — all thanks to the resilience and excellence of staff in those areas. The same accolades apply to HR staff and their peers, who are making foundational changes to better serve campus and cut through inefficiencies.

Friday will mark two months since the go-live date of the PeopleSoft HR/Pay module. After initial difficulty, the system is stabilizing, and we are consistently successful in managing payroll and sending the state the necessary information.

I especially want to recognize the HR, Payroll, and IT employees who have succeeded in smoothing out early bumps, and I encourage you to thank your time reviewer as well. The project team has resolved most workflow and leave balance issues, and is now addressing some remaining issues with the user experience and making retroactive funding adjustments.

We will continue to streamline system functionality wherever possible, including enhanced reporting capability and additional system training. We will also be implementing functionality to provide summer health insurance coverage for academic year faculty.

Even as the implementation of HR/Pay is winding down, other major HR changes will commence:

  • To recruit and retain high-quality staff, we must be competitive with current markets. We will select a vendor to assist KU with a comprehensive compensation study. We will also review position descriptions to better classify jobs on campus.
  • We are negotiating with a vendor to assist with a performance management toolkit to establish employee performance goals outlined in Bold Aspirations and to provide for 360-degree evaluations.
  • In addition, we are looking at a vendor tool to support our enhanced staff learning and development master plan.

Bits and Bytes

  • The Bold Aspirations Visitor and Lecture Series got off to a wonderful start this fall, bringing several notable researchers to campus. I hope you’ll join us for the last lecture of the semester, by Wim Jiskoot, professor at the Division of Drug Delivery Technology at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Professor Jiskoot will talk on “Unwanted Immunogenicity of Therapeutic Proteins” on Monday, December 17 at 11 am in room 2020 at the School of Pharmacy. A reception will follow.
  • Graduate dean Thomas Heilke has charged a new implementation committee for Bold Aspirations goal 2, elevating doctoral education. The committee is examining ways to meet the strategies in this goal, including comprehensive recruitment, sustainable funding, setting academic standards for doctoral programs, and instituting best mentoring practices. A report from this committee is expected by summer.
  • The School of Architecture, Design and Planning has moved up in national rankings. The masters of architecture program is ranked 14th best in the country according to the magazine DesignIntelligence, which offers the only rankings of National Architectural Accrediting Board-accredited architecture schools published in the United States. In addition, architecture firms in the US midwest ranked KU’s graduate program No. 1 in the nation — ahead of Yale, Harvard, Columbia, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dan Rockhill, the J. L. Constant Distinguished Professor of Architecture and director of the innovative Studio 804 program, was named one of the 30 most admired educators in the nation. 
  • Ten third-year architecture students have been recognized for design excellence. The stunning Stanley D. and Janet B. Roth Trailhead at the KU Field Station north of Lawrence earned “Best in Show” at the annual Monsters of Design Awards from the Young Architects Forum of the American Institute of Architects’ Kansas City chapter. It also received an AIA Honor Award in the student work category of the annual Kansas Design Awards.

The Office of First-Year Experience and the Centers for Undergraduate Research and Civic and Social Responsibility (formerly Service Learning) will host an open house in 145, 150, and 151 Strong Hall on Friday, December 7 between 3:00 and 5:00 pm. Come visit their new space and learn about the exciting new initiatives in experiential learning.

Provost's Message Signature: 

Rock Chalk!
  -- Jeff

Jeffrey S. Vitter

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor

This issue of Provost eNews as well as past ones can be found on the Provost eNews web page.

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