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K-State Today

September 18, 2012

Update: Letter to campus from President Schulz and Provost Mason

Submitted by Kirk Schulz and April Mason

Kirk Schulz, April Mason

Dear Faculty and Staff,

As we are visiting the colleges and similar units this month, we are reminded once again that great universities are built around great faculty and staff members. That is one reason why we have set ambitious goals for ourselves as part of our K-State 2025 Faculty and Staff Strategic Action Plan. 

During our visits, we are outlining several key university initiatives for the coming year directly related to these goals and to our vision to become a Top 50 public research university by 2025. One university initiative is to develop a long-term faculty salary and compensation improvement plan. The second is to conduct a comprehensive universitywide evaluation of human resources, EEO, and Title IX structures, processes, and services and their capacity and readiness to support our human capital needs as we look to our future.

Competitive compensation is a key to recruiting and retaining the faculty and staff we need. We have many needs at K-State — salaries, facilities and infrastructure, and additional faculty and staff are all important and much needed. We will only make progress on achieving competitive compensation if we develop a long-range compensation improvement plan with specific targeted goals and strategies over a number of years. After consultation with Faculty Senate leadership, we are appointing an eight-member committee to propose such a plan for faculty salaries and benefits. The committee members, four appointed by Faculty Senate and four by administration, are: 

• Peter Dorhout, dean, arts and sciences

• Jennifer Gehrt, director, human resources services

• Mo Hosni, professor, mechanical and nuclear engineering

• Julia Keen, associate professor, architectural engineering and construction science

• Virginia Moxley, dean, human ecology

• Stephanie Rolley, department head, landscape architecture and regional and community planning

• Brian Spooner, division head, biology

• Vincent Amanor-Boadu, associate professor, agricultural economics 

Bruce Shubert, vice president for administration and finance, and Brian Niehoff, associate provost for institutional effectiveness, will serve as ex-officio members in their respective capacities to provide resources as needed.

The committee will be charged to propose a comprehensive plan by December 2012, laying out a path to advance our 2025 goals for competitive faculty compensation. Topics the committee will be asked to address include starting salary adjustments, increasing promotion increments, discipline-specific salary adjustments, possible incentives for faculty doing funded research, and "block grant" programs for merit increases. 

The second major initiative is one we announced last spring in response to the Unclassified Professionals Task Force and Hiring Process Assessment Focus Group reports as well as the human capital needs identified in K-State 2025.

A request for proposal, which included the two reports, was issued this summer for an outside consultant to evaluate and make recommendations for improving our HR-related capacities, competencies, infrastructure, and services, including those provided by the Division of Human Resources, the office of affirmative action, and the office of academic personnel.

We recently contracted with Aon Hewitt, a national consulting services firm, to undertake this evaluation. Our university has more than 5,000 faculty and staff and our HR-related structures and processes have grown over the past 30 years. As we look forward, it's time to pause and consider whether the ways that have served us in the past will meet our needs in the future. The consultants have been asked to review and make recommendations in areas that impact all of us — faculty and unclassified and classified staff.

These areas include distribution of HR-related functions and responsibilities, position definition and job analysis, compensation structures, discrimination and accommodation services, recruitment and hiring practices, professional development, recognition and awards, performance review, policy development, compliance, and IT infrastructure supporting human capital processes as well as communication of all human capital services.

As is our K-State practice, we will involve the university community as Aon Hewitt helps us identify improvements and recommends a roadmap for change with associated costs to maximize the efficiency, effectiveness, and responsiveness of our HR/EEO/Title IX services and hone best practices. We will begin our journey to examine and improve our human capital enterprise this month with the goal of Aon Hewitt completing their work by February 2013. 

The project team supporting this effort includes Jackie Hartman, office of the president; Lynn Carlin, office of the provost; Lindsay Chapman, office of the general counsel; Gary Leitnaker, Division of Human Resources and Parking Services; Roberta Maldonado-Franzen, office of affirmative action; and Carla Bishop, Division of Financial Services. Please stay tuned for updates on how you can participate in this important effort.

These initiatives can lay foundational long-term strategies to better support our faculty and staff. For the short term, thanks to our student enrollment, we are pleased we were able to provide mid-year salary increases last year for faculty and unclassified professionals.

This year, we plan to provide a merit-based pool for mid-year salary adjustments, contingent on final enrollment numbers. We will share more information as the deans work out the details in the next month. Unfortunately, we do not have that option for our classified employees who have been without any salary increase for four years. We will be talking more about this situation with Classified Senate leadership this fall and are  committed to working with them to find ways to reward the outstanding work done by our classified employees.

We look forward to working together with all of you to address our faculty and staff needs. Please let us know if you have any questions or suggestions as we continue to build the talented and high-performing workforce envisioned in 2025!

Go 'Cats!                                               Thanks for all you do!

Kirk Schulz and April Mason