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K-State Today

January 31, 2014

Monthly letter to campus from President Schulz: Social media policy, legislative advocacy, human capital

Submitted by Kirk Schulz

Welcome to the 2014 spring semester! I like to use the word “spring” as often as I can while enjoying the balmy, single-digit temperatures as I write this. There are three items I want to address in this month’s letter to campus: the social media policy, legislative advocacy and the search for our vice president of human capital.

Social Media Policy
The current Kansas Board of Regents social media policy continues to garner significant national, regional and local attention. I provided some of my thoughts on this policy in my December letter to campus, Provost and Senior Vice President April Mason recently provided her viewpoint, and the University Distinguished Professors at K-State and KU have also expressed their views on the policy.

Recently, the Kansas Board of Regents assembled a working group to begin possible modification to the current policy for consideration at the April 2014 Regents meeting. Dr. Julia Keen, Faculty Senate president, and Jeff Morris, vice president for communications and marketing, are K-State’s representatives on this group. If you have any additional thoughts that you wish to share with either of them, please contact them directly.

I believe we have a process in place where the social media group will work in collaboration with the Kansas Regents to craft a policy acceptable to both parties.  Many members of the K-State family have expressed a clear message to the Regents, and now I think we need to let the process take its course.

In my conversations with groups on campus, many people have expressed concerns about how this policy will affect the hiring of new faculty and staff. I am happy to reach out personally to any candidates and assure them that K-State and Kansas are places that embrace academic freedom. It is important that we continue to hire the best and brightest at K-State, and I want to do everything possible as the policy undergoes possible revision. If I can be of any help, please contact me directly by email.

Legislative Advocacy
The Kansas Legislature is back in session in Topeka. This time of year, there will be a variety of bills proposed in the Legislature, and some may not be supportive of higher education. Rumors will also abound across campus about what may or may not be happening in Topeka. I encourage the entire campus community to actively keep up with higher education issues at the state level. If you choose to be active in expressing your political views, please ensure that you use a personal email address and send notes after standard working hours. Inevitably, you will hear rumors or read information about particular legislative initiatives, and I urge you to check in with Dr. Sue Peterson, director of governmental relations, to get the most up-to-date information. We have spent a great deal of time during the fall semester visiting with many elected officials about the need to provide increased financial support for public higher education, and I remain optimistic for the 2014 legislative session.

Human Capital Update
Early next month, we will be initiating the search for our first-ever vice president of human capital. This new leader will provide direction, guidance and management of Kansas State University's strategic initiatives for human capital and human resource planning, policy and program development. This first chief human capital officer will lead the development of an overarching human capital strategy to support meeting K-State's 2025 human capital goals for faculty, staff and students.

I am involved in the Boy Scouts of America and currently sit on the board that governs an area stretching from Manhattan west to the Colorado border. The council is managed by a full-time professional who serves as the CEO of scouting in our geographic area. Our council executive recently left, and thus we initiated a search to find his replacement.

The Boy Scouts of America has a very well established human capital program focused on talent development. As we began our search, we used a well-developed human capital process whereby we were provided a small group of qualified candidates. The search committee then was able to narrow this search down to four candidates for face-to-face interviews, after which we made the selection of our next council executive. This entire process took about eight weeks.

So why is this important? Several K-State faculty and staff were involved on the search committee, and we were amazed by the information provided on the candidates for each step of the process. We had leadership assessments of each candidate that described their strengths and weaknesses, and we were provided with sample questions that allowed us to probe some of the identified areas for each candidate. Additionally, we were provided training about what things we could and couldn’t ask. In short, the search committee still chose the candidate we wanted, but we had a large amount of information that allowed us to choose the best candidate. This process represented a modern human capital program at its best.

The experience I describe represents just one part of what we want to develop at K-State. At the heart of this initiative is the need for strategic and transformative leadership as we focus on human capital at the university.

At K-State, we currently have many excellent people who work in different aspects of human capital. I appreciate all they have done for K-State and all they will continue to do in the future. The hiring of a new leader for human capital does not diminish their impact on K-State, but rather it is a recognition that we need to take the development of our greatest resource – our faculty and staff – to a higher level.

I wish each of you success during the spring 2014 semester. I am proud of the terrific year we had in 2013 and look forward to bigger and better things this next year. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

Go Cats!