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Each year, CUPA-HR’s Higher Education Human Resource Awards honor individuals, teams and institutions that are doing outstanding and innovative work around advancing diversity and inclusion in higher ed, elevating the HR role on campus, furthering the higher ed HR profession, and giving selflessly of their time and talents to CUPA-HR and their higher ed HR peers.

Here, we celebrate this year’s recipients:

Chief Executive HR Champion Award – Jacqueline Moloney, Chancellor of University of Massachusetts Lowell

Honoring a president or chancellor of a higher ed institution or system who has demonstrated significant support for the institution’s HR function (sponsored by Sibson Consulting).

Throughout her time in senior leadership positions at UMass Lowell, Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney has supported a broad-based, large-scale organizational change effort that has resulted in, among other things, doubling the operating budget of finance and operations; adding over 1.5 million square feet of building space; growing enrollment by nearly 60 percent; and increasing the workforce by 40 percent.

Moloney is a strong HR ally and has supported HR’s proactive initiatives to ensure market-based competitive salaries; clear and comprehensive job descriptions; inclusive recruitment and selection processes; a comprehensive performance management and accountability system; robust strategic data reporting; the appropriate use of technology in business process review and redesign; robust employee recognition; and organizational climate assessment.

“Chancellor Moloney understands and respects the importance of effectively engaging members of the campus community, providing transparency in decision making, respecting and incorporating different perspectives, and creating a climate of high performance, accountability and inclusion,” says Lauren Turner, senior associate vice chancellor for HR and organizational strategy and effectiveness at UMass Lowell. “Time and time again, she has shown that she truly is an HR champion.”

HR Excellence Award – Kelley Stuck, Chief HR Officer at University of Virginia

Honoring transformative HR work in higher ed and recognizing teams or individuals who have provided HR leadership resulting in significant and ongoing organizational change within their institutions (sponsored by VALIC). 

Kelley Stuck received the award for her leadership on the Ufirst project, which reimagined and restructured how UVA’s human resources organization does its work. The new HR organization, supported by best-in-class technology, aims to provide consistent, quality and efficient services to the UVA community, enabling the recruitment and retention of faculty, staff and team members who are experts in their respective fields. Outcomes of the Ufirst project thus far have included:

  • A reduction from more than 85 HR units within three organizations to three streamlined communities of expertise with eight functional areas;
  • The emergence of a service-oriented, collaborative, innovative HR culture;
  • Enhanced HR operations and improved customer satisfaction;
  • Greater fiscal responsibility;
  • A reduction in the volume of HR inquiries and a reduced time to close inquiries;
  • Implementation of state-of-the-art and streamlined case management technology; and
  • More efficient use of trend data to inform HR’s work.
 Inclusion Cultivates Excellence Award – Utah Valley University

Recognizing 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 (sponsored by PageUp). 

Utah Valley University (UVU) has embarked upon a multi-year strategic plan to reinforce its commitment to inclusion, access, diversity, multiculturalism, and global and intercultural engagement. More than $3 million in funding over the last four years have been dedicated to 40 new initiatives and projects, including:

  • Several new identity-affirming spaces on campus, including the Women’s Success Center, Veteran’s Center, LGBT Student Services, and the Center for Global and Intercultural Engagement;
  • Three new multicultural initiatives (one for Native Americans, one for people of the Pacific and one for African Americans);
  • Four new campus facilities named for women (prior to this, there were none);
  • The implementation of a global intercultural curriculum;
  • A robust first-generation-student initiative;
  • The creation of nearly 30 family/all-gender restroom facilities;
  • A recognition program which celebrates individuals/departments for their work to advance diversity and inclusion; and
  • Several professional development programs related to diversity and inclusion.

Says UVU Chief Diversity Officer Kyle Reyes, “From its inception, the UVU Strategic Inclusion Plan and efforts have been focused on campus-wide ownership of issues of inclusion, diversity, equity, access, pluralism and opportunity. That’s why we’ve been so successful — every school, department and individual has a part to play.”

HR Innovation Awards – Pennsylvania State University Human Resources and University of California, Irvine Human Resources

Recognizing transformative HR work in higher ed (sponsored by PageUp). 

Penn State
Penn State’s HR organization received the HR Innovation Award for its HR Business Process Transformation project, which has resulted in changes to better enable the HR organization to support the university’s strategic goals. Specific outcomes have included:

  • Creation of a new state-of-the-art HR shared services center;
  • Alignment of HR strategic partners and consultants with Penn State’s various units, departments and campuses;
  • Implementation of a new learning resources network;
  • Implementation of a new HR information system; and
  • Elimination of duplicative, decentralized, outdated and inconsistent HR processes and policies.

Says Mary Beahm, Penn State’s vice president for human resources, “This transformation has redefined how we do business, positioned Penn State HR as leading-edge within higher education, and allowed us to see our path forward to even greater contributions to the university.”

UC Irvine
UC Irvine’s HR team received the HR Innovation Award for the creation and implementation of a new HR business model which provides for streamlined and consistent processes and procedures and the alignment of resources across the university’s three HR organizations — campus, medical center and health sciences. Outcomes of the new HR model have included:

  • The creation of executive director positions for each of the three HR organizations;
  • The Partnership for Strategy and Innovation — a subset of HR consisting of four individuals with expertise in workforce planning, communications, organizational effectiveness and workforce relations who lead enterprise-level initiatives;
  • The elimination of annual performance reviews and the implementation of goal-setting and quarterly one-on-one meetings between supervisors and employees;
  • Implementation of campus-wide merit-based salary increases;
  • The opportunity for HR staff to complete training to become certified HR business partners;
  • The elevation of HR to a strategic business partner and cabinet-level contributor; and
  • A more engaged campus community.

Says Ramona Agrela, UC Irvine’s associate chancellor and chief HR executive, “The new HR model respects the individuality of each of the university’s HR organizations while aligning resources across the enterprise into an even more efficient, responsive and client-centric team and enables us to optimize across common strategic goals, planning, practices and unmet organizational needs.”

Donald E. Dickason Award – Barbara Carroll, Associate Vice Chancellor and Chief HR Officer at Vanderbilt University

CUPA-HR’s highest honor for exceptional leadership and service to the association (sponsored by TIAA). 

Over the past decade, Barb Carroll has made significant contributions to CUPA-HR. She has been a tireless advocate in the public policy arena, serving for three years as chair of CUPA-HR’s public policy committee and working closely for many years with the association’s government relations team in Washington, D.C., on several issues affecting higher ed. She has also been actively involved in CUPA-HR’s research endeavors, serving for several years as the primary advisor to the association’s research team and helping facilitate a restructuring and redesign of the association’s salary surveys. In 2015-16, she served as chair of CUPA-HR’s board of directors, and has served for several years as a mentor to emerging CUPA-HR leaders.

Says David Blake, past chair of CUPA-HR’s board of directors, “Barb’s efforts and ability to share her knowledge have been instrumental in the professional development of many of her peers and colleagues. As the board chair who preceded her, I have personally benefitted from her mentoring and leadership. Barb exemplifies both the mission and values of CUPA-HR as both a leader and a practitioner.”

Distinguished Service Award – Laurita Thomas, Associate Vice President for HR at University of Michigan

Recognizing outstanding service to CUPA-HR through constituent activities, such as service in governance or leadership roles, or through professional development contributions in support of the association (sponsored by Kronos Incorporated).

Laurita Thomas began her CUPA-HR leadership service in 2012 as a member of the association’s learning task force. She then went on to serve as a member of the board of directors from 2014 to 2017. She also served on CUPA-HR’s public policy committee and learning and professional development committee, and was instrumental in the creation of the association’s learning framework, which is meant to guide the learning and development of higher education HR professionals. Thomas has also been active in the association’s diversity and inclusion work, is a frequent presenter at national and regional CUPA-HR events, and has served as a mentor to several early-career higher ed HR professionals.

Says Mark Coldren, former chair of CUPA-HR’s board of directors, “Laurita is recognized as a thought leader and an innovator in the higher ed HR profession. She is an active resource for not only the association’s members, but also her peers and colleagues around the country. She is a trailblazer, a consummate professional, a dedicated leader, and one of the smartest people I know!”

This year’s awards recipients will be formally recognized at the CUPA-HR Annual Conference and Expo 2018 in Indianapolis, October 7-9.

Keep an eye on the blog and future issues of The Higher Education Workplace magazine for more on the work of these teams and individuals.

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Each month, CUPA-HR General Counsel Ira Shepard provides an overview of some labor and employment law cases and regulatory actions with implications for the higher ed workplace. Here’s the latest from Ira:

Supreme Court Rules 5-4 That Employers Can Bar Class-Action Lawsuits and Require Mandatory Arbitration

The U.S. Supreme Court narrowly ruled in a 5-4 decision that employers can bar employees from filing class-action litigation and can require that such claims be processed through individual arbitration if the employer maintains a valid mandatory arbitration policy. The decision was split on ideological lines, with Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan dissenting. Chief Justice Roberts along with Justices Thomas, Kennedy, Alito and Gorsuch combined to make the majority decision, which is based on the Federal Arbitration Act which favors the deferral to arbitration where valid arbitration agreements exist.

The decision involves three cases — Epic Systems v. Lewis (U.S. 16-285), Ernst & Young v. Morris (U.S. 16-300) and Murphy Oil v. USA (US 16-307). The cases largely involved Fair Labor Standards Act issues (classification disputes at Epic Systems and Ernst & Young, and a National Labor Relations Act matter at Murphy Oil involving employees collectively pressing their pay claims), but the reasoning can apply to all class-action cases, including discrimination cases. In her dissent, Justice Ginsburg called for Congress to override the decision by passing new laws.

EEOC Obtains $2.6 Million Settlement for Female Law Professors in Pay Bias Litigation

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently announced that a group of female law professors at the University of Denver Law School will divide a $2.6 million settlement to compensate them for lost backpay as a result of years of gender discrimination in wages (EEOC v. University of Denver (D. Colo., No. 1:16-cv-02471, consent decree, approved 5/17/18)).

The case involved discrimination charges filed under the Equal Pay Act, pursued on the professors’ behalf by the EEOC, and an affirmative move by the university to reach a settlement. The settlement was outlined in a consent decree that was recently approved by the federal district court with jurisdiction over the case.

The case involved seven female professors who will divide the settlement and receive salary adjustments immediately. The EEOC in its investigation found that the female professors have been paid approximately $20,000 a year less than their male counterparts since October 2013. The settlement agreement also requires the law school to conduct an annual study of pay equity in the future with an independent and qualified labor economist. The agreement requires that the university fulfill its obligations under the agreement for the next six years, but that may be shortened to five years if an independent consultant reports to the EEOC that the school has complied with the terms of the agreement for at least the preceding three years.

Former College Athlete/Scholarship Recipient Fails in Wage Claim Against NCAA and 20 Universities

A former scholarship student and football star at Villanova University lost his lawsuit against the NCAA, Villanova and 19 other universities claiming that student athletes are employees of their schools and should be paid. The lawsuit alleged, among other things, a willful violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. A federal district court judge in Pennsylvania dismissed the case (Livers v. NCAA et al. (E.D. Pa., No. 17-4271, 5/17/18)).

The lawsuit against the 19 schools the plaintiff did not attend were dismissed with prejudice, meaning he cannot amend and refile against those schools. The lawsuit against Villanova and the NCAA were dismissed because the plaintiff did not meet the requirements of the economic reality test to prove he was an employee. However, his claims against Villanova and the NCAA are subject to the plaintiff’s ability to amend and refile.

NLRB Strikes Down Employer Policy Banning Moonlighting on Personal Time

An National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge (ALJ) recently ruled that an employer policy that was unilaterally adopted as part of the employee handbook which was not subject to collective bargaining was unlawful, as it required employer permission before allowing an employee to work elsewhere while off duty. The employer had argued the work rule was important to ensure that employees came to work well rested and that they did not work for a competitor.

The ALJ ruled that the rule was overly broad and had a “significant potential impact” on the employees’ rights, which are protected by the National Labor Relations Act (Nicholson Terminal and Dock Co. (2018 BL 173681, NLRB, ALJ, Case No. 07-CA-187907, 5/16/18)).

Supreme Court Sides With Baker and Rejects Ruling of Colorado Civil Rights Commission in High-Profile LGBT Case, But Ducks Central First Amendment Issue

The Supreme Court has sided with a baker who had been cited by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for refusing to bake a custom wedding cake ordered by a same-sex couple. The Supreme Court overturned the Colorado Commission’s holding in a 7-2 decision (Masterpiece Cake Shop Ltd., et al. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission et al. (U.S. Case No. 16-111,6/5/18)).

The baker was Christian and asserted that his religion precluded him from baking the cake. The Supreme Court ducked the central issue of whether the First Amendment freedom of religion provision protects the baker’s right to refuse to bake the cake. Rather, the Court ruled that the decision of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, because of its rhetoric, displayed unacceptable hostility to religion itself and therefore could not stand. In coming to its decision, a commissioner of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission stated, “… Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be Holocaust … to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that [people can use].”

The Court concluded that this statement evidenced bias against religion and that that itself violated the First Amendment free exercise clause. Therefore, the decision of the Colorado Commission was vacated without the Supreme Court addressing the central issue of whether the First Amendment protects the baker’s right to refuse LGBT customers.

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“Intersectionality” – the combination of discrimination or bias experienced by individuals with overlapping identities, each of which is associated with discrimination on its own.

Research has shown that women and minorities each face their own challenges related to equal pay and representation in the higher ed workforce — women working in higher ed leadership earn less than White men; women are underrepresented in higher-paying, more prestigious positions in American colleges and universities; and minorities are underrepresented, particularly in high-level higher ed jobs, and underpaid in the majority of campus jobs.

But how do these inequities intersect for women of color?

CUPA-HR’s new research brief, Representation and Pay of Women of Color in the Higher Education Workforce, seeks to answer this question by examining representation and pay equity for the intersection of two groups: women and individuals who identify as either Black/African American or Hispanic/Latino. The brief explores the kinds of inequity women and ethnic minorities experience and how inequities differ by position type.

Here are some findings:

  • Women of color are paid only 67 cents on the dollar compared to White men in the higher education workforce.
  • In three out of four job types (professional, staff and faculty) women of color are paid less than White men, men of color and White women.
  • Women of color are underrepresented in the higher ed workforce as a whole compared to their representation in the U.S. population.
  • Women of color are represented more in lower-paying staff positions and less in higher-paying faculty, professional and administrative roles. This stands in contrast to White men, whose representation increases significantly with pay and position level.

So how do we begin to address these pay and representation inequities among women of color in the higher ed workforce? Here are four steps higher ed HR professionals can take:

  • Share this brief with your institution’s leadership.
  • Evaluate internal equity for both pay and representation across different job categories. Consider demographic factors both independently and in combination.
  • Compare with peer institutions using detailed and accurate salary data. In this way, ensure fair market wages for all employees and establish competitive salaries when it’s necessary to compete for a limited pool of minority candidates.
  • Take analyses beyond wages and consider employee turnover, age and experience. This may allow for a longer-term view and the ability to address the pipeline of minority women incumbents who could potentially be promoted into higher-prestige roles.

Says Jasper McChesney, author of the brief, “Equity issues cannot be solved overnight, but by planning strategically, with unbiased data, higher education institutions can continue taking steps toward more diverse and equitable campuses.”

Read the Representation and Pay of Women of Color in the Higher Education Workforce brief, and check out CUPA-HR’s other research briefs.

This brief was made possible with support from Fidelity Investments. 

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Among staff-level jobs in the nation’s colleges and universities, the skilled crafts area is growing markedly, while current skilled crafts workers are nearing retirement — making a hiring boom likely within the next decade.

According to just-released findings from CUPA-HR’s 2018 Staff in Higher Education Survey, skilled crafts workers (who hold jobs like electrician, carpenter, machinist and metalworker) make up the smallest percentage of the staff workforce in higher ed institutions (at just 7 percent), but jobs in that area are growing at nearly triple the rate of office/clerical and service/maintenance positions combined. Nearly half of skilled crafts workers in higher ed are 55 years old or older, and these workers also have the longest tenure of all higher ed staff, as well as the highest pay.

“This year’s findings depict the perfect storm for a future workforce shortage in skilled craft positions,” says Jackie Bichsel, CUPA-HR’s director of research. “These positions are experiencing a large rate of growth, and skilled craft staff are aging and nearing retirement after a long tenure in their positions. The good news is that these findings come in time to plan and prepare for these possible shortages. Higher ed HR professionals can assess the likely impact at their own institutions, as well as whether there are enough workers in the local pipeline to fill future gaps. Those in technical colleges can assess whether current training programs and apprenticeship opportunities are enough to meet the need.”

Select Findings
Here are some other findings from this year’s survey:

Salary Increases and Job Growth  
The overall median salary increase for staff in higher education over the past year is 1.9 percent. Overall, higher education staff did not see significant growth — only a marginal 0.2 percent increase from 2017 to 2018 (much lower than the 7 percent growth of the professional workforce in higher ed).

Highest- and Lowest-Paid Staff
Among the highest-paid positions for staff in higher ed are skilled craft supervisor positions. Custodial and food preparation positions have the lowest median salaries.

Largest Professional Areas
Office/clerical is the largest area of employment, making up 42 percent of the staff workforce in colleges and universities. Service/maintenance makes up about 35 percent of the staff workforce.

Representation and Pay of Women and Minorities
Overall, women make up nearly two-thirds (61 percent) of staff, yet women are paid 96 cents for every dollar earned by men. Overall, racial/ethnic minorities make up nearly one-third (31 percent) of all higher ed staff and earn 93 cents on the dollar compared to non-minorities. This pay gap is larger than for administrators or professionals in higher education, suggesting that inequality in pay for minorities is more prevalent in lower-earning positions.

Age and Years in Position
About half of all higher education staff are at least 50 years old. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), workers 55 years old or older made up 22.4 percent of the U.S. labor force in 2016. In the higher education staff workforce, this number is much higher, at 37 percent. Overall, higher ed staff have been in their current positions for a median of four years, a figure that is on par with the most recent data from the BLS on American workers in all industry.

Regional Differences
Staff in California and Washington, D.C. make the highest salaries, and those in Arkansas and West Virginia make the lowest. Racial/ethnic minorities make up more than half of staff in Hawaii, Washington, D.C., New Mexico, California, Texas, Maryland and Florida.

About the Survey
This year’s Staff in Higher Education Survey includes data for 193,530 staff in 152 positions at 837 institutions. In addition to salary data, the survey collects data on gender, race/ethnicity, age, and years in position at the incumbent level for all professionals.

For a list of participating institutions, a report overview, information on data collected and options for purchasing the survey report and DataOnDemand, visit the Staff in Higher Education web page

Read about this year’s findings on administrators and professionals in higher ed and faculty survey findings around trend increases and diversity in the pipeline.

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On May 9, the Trump Administration released its Unified Regulatory Agenda and Regulatory Plan, providing the regulated public with a detailed glimpse into the regulatory policies and priorities under consideration by 59 federal departments, agencies and commissions. Agendas are released twice a year, generally in the spring and fall, and are designed to provide the public with information on regulations the federal government is currently considering and to prioritize action items for the coming year.

The Spring 2018 Agenda sets target dates for each agency and sub-agency’s regulatory actions, from the beginning to the end of the regulatory process, and provides insight into which issues will be a short-term focus for the agency. It also includes long-term action items to allow relevant parties to begin considering the impact these regulations may have. Although the Agenda reports on thousands of rules and regulations, below are some of the more important issues that CUPA-HR has been following:

Department of Labor

Defining and Delimiting the Exemptions for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales and Computer Employees 
The Department of Labor (DOL)’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has postponed the target release date from later this year to January 2019 for a new Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on overtime requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). DOL states that it will use the responses it received to their 2017 Request for Information (RFI) on the invalidated Obama administration’s overtime rule to develop the NPRM. The RFI sought comment on whether the Obama rulemaking went too far in its efforts to expand overtime pay to more workers.

On September 25, 2017, CUPA-HR, joined by 20 other higher education associations, filed substantive comments in response to the RFI, highlighting higher education’s belief that an increase to the salary threshold is due and that DOL has an obligation to update the threshold from time to time to ensure the exemptions are not abused and outlining what we believe to be DOL’s best course of action moving forward. It is not clear what the new proposed salary level will be or whether the rule will contain other elements beyond updating the threshold; however, comments made by Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta suggest that the NPRM will include a smaller salary level than the 2016 rule.

Regular Rate Under the Fair Labor Standards Act
Additionally, WHD included an NPRM targeted for September 2018 to address how regular rates of pay are calculated when determining overtime pay. The Department is considering amending the implementing regulations of the FLSA to clarify and update those requirements.

National Labor Relations Board 

Notice Regarding Possible Reconsideration of Representation Case Procedures
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) included a notice in the agenda that deals with the 2014 Obama-era rulemaking that altered the procedures for holding a union representation election. Under the rulemaking, the procedures were altered in a manner to help speed up the time frame between the filing of a petition for an election and the holding of that election. The NLRB issued an RFI on the 2014 rulemaking, seeking public input on the effect the rulemaking had and if the rulemaking should be altered or eliminated entirely. The Spring agenda targets June 2018 for the DOL to finish its review of the responses it received on the RFI.

Joint-Employer Rulemaking
The NLRB has listed under “long-term” actions that they are considering engaging in rulemaking to establish the standard for determining joint-employer status under the National Labor Relations Act. Items listed under long-term actions are issues which are under development at the respective agency but are not scheduled for regulatory action within the 12 months following publication of that edition of the regulatory agenda. While it is unclear what any future rule may include, NLRB Chairman John Ring issued a statement in which he said that “the current uncertainty over the standard to be applied in determining joint-employer status under the Act undermines employers’ willingness to create jobs and expand business opportunities” and that “notice-and-comment rulemaking offers the best vehicle to fully consider all views on what the standard ought to be.”

Department of Homeland Security

Registration Requirement for Petitioners Seeking to File H-1B Petitions on Behalf of Aliens Subject to Numerical Limitations
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in July 2018 (this proposal was initially slated to be issued in February 2018) to establish an electronic registration program for petitions subject to numerical limitations for the H-1B nonimmigrant classification. USCIS claims that this regulation is necessary to increase efficiency in allocating cap-subject H-1B visas, as the demand for H-1B specialty occupation workers by U.S. companies has often exceeded the numerical limitation. The agenda also states that the proposal may include a modified selection process, as outlined in section 5(b) of Executive Order 13788, Buy American and Hire American.

Strengthening the H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa Classification Program
USCIS plans to issue an NPRM in January 2019 (this proposal was initially slated to be issued in October 2018) to revise the definition of “specialty occupation” and revise the definition of “employment” and “employer-employee relationship.” The agenda states that the Department of Homeland Security’s purpose for proposing these changes is to “increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B program,” to “better protect U.S. workers and wages,” and to “ensure employers pay appropriate wages to H-1B visa holders.”

Removing H-4 Dependent Spouses From the Class of Aliens Eligible for Employment Authorization
USCIS plans to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in June 2018 (this proposal was initially slated to be issued in February 2018) to terminate the employment authorization program for certain H-4 spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants as a class of aliens eligible for employment authorization in the U.S. On May 23, in a filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which is hearing an appeal in the case of Save Jobs USA v. DHS, DHS notified the court that the NPRM is in the final stages of clearance before being sent to the Office of Management and Budget for review.

Practical Training Reform 
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to comprehensively revise practical training rules for F and M foreign students. The regulatory agenda states that the rule is intended to reduce fraud and abuse within the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program and “improve protections of U.S. workers who may be negatively impacted by employment of nonimmigrant students on F and M visas.” The anticipated publication date remains October 2018.

Currently, the OPT program permits foreign nationals who graduated from a U.S. university the ability to apply to receive up to 12 months of OPT employment authorization before completing their academic studies and/or after completing their academic studies. In March 2016, the Obama administration issued a final rule that extended OPT work authorization in STEM fields (STEM OPT) for an additional 24 months (36 months total) post-graduation and expanded vetting requirements to include a formal training plan that specifies learning objectives.

While we will not know the specific reforms DHS intends to propose until the NPRM is issued, rhetoric from the administration and certain leaders on Capitol Hill labeling some universities as “visa mills” has many in the higher ed community worried that potential reforms could seek to eliminate the STEM extension, shorten the work authorization period, or make the reporting requirements so onerous the program is virtually impossible to use.

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During the years that I was the chief HR officer at the University of Georgia, my sons, Josh and Caleb, were in middle school. One night at dinner, we were having the typical conversation during which I (as the parent) was trying to pry tidbits of information from them regarding what they did at school, careful to ask open-ended questions that required more than a “yes” or “no” response. After a few awkward minutes of less-than-satisfying exchange, Josh asked me what I did that day. My first thought was, “Such a clever boy to try and turn the conversation!”

But I had experienced one of those days … a particularly challenging employee relations issue, a request to respond to a “what-if” scenario should we need to cut budgets, panicked calls from others who had received the same budget-related request, and an interesting exchange with a dean. I shared all of this with my sons, and Caleb responded, “Why in the world would anyone want to do your job?!”

So, why would anyone want to work in higher ed HR? We, as higher ed HR leaders, tend to focus on challenges like those I shared instead of the much more important — and much more rewarding — reasons why we are in HR. Our work with other higher ed leaders to help them shape the culture and acquire or cultivate the talent and the competencies needed to be relevant and impactful now and into the future is critically important to the success of our institutions. Our work and our leadership are also critically important as we guide and support our faculty and staff as they create the learning environment and the learning communities of our colleges and universities.

This leads to two of our biggest challenges. First, we must do a better job of emphasizing the importance of, and rewards from, our work as higher ed HR leaders. Second, we must create a pipeline of future higher ed HR leaders.

Age 55 … that is the median age of chief HR officers in higher ed, according to CUPA-HR’s 2018 Administrators in Higher Education Survey. For those of us who are at or close to this median age, and even for the CHROs who aren’t close to this age, what are we doing to guide and mentor the early-career professionals who are a part of our HR organizations? Our personal learning and growth will always be important, but our much more important role is preparing the next round of leaders to take the reigns and continue to move the profession forward.

As we prepare to begin the fifth year of CUPA-HR’s Wildfire program — a year-long learning and development experience for early-career higher ed HR professionals — it’s important to celebrate the tremendous success of the program and the impact it has had on participants and on CUPA-HR. I hope you will read the Q&A with this year’s Wildfire class that is featured in the new issue of CUPA-HR’s The Higher Education Workplace magazine and consider ways that you can develop similar on-campus learning and development opportunities for your early-career professionals.

For the record, neither of my sons chose HR as a career. Josh is now a trauma nurse and Caleb is a structural engineer. Next time I am with the two of them, I will steer the conversation toward their work, and I’ll be sure to ask Caleb why in the world anyone would want to be a structural engineer.

CUPA-HR’s e-learning resources, including CUPA-HR Bootcamp and Understanding Higher Education, are easy, free ways to support the learning and development of early-career professionals. Our free webinars and low-cost virtual workshops are also great ways for you and your entire team to learn together. And CUPA-HR’s Knowledge Center contains nearly 100 toolkits on a wide range of higher ed-HR related topics. 

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Each month, CUPA-HR General Counsel Ira Shepard provides an overview of some labor and employment law cases and regulatory actions with implications for the higher ed workplace. Here’s the latest from Ira:

Court Finds Plaintiff’s Failure to Follow Supervisor’s Direction Not Protected by the First Amendment

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (covering Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana) recently ruled that a public employee’s good-faith and well-meaning decision to refuse his supervisor’s direction is not protected by the First Amendment, and therefore his lawsuit alleging retaliation for asserting First Amendment rights was properly dismissed (Davis v. City of Chicago (2018 BL 162182, 7th Cir., No. 16-1430, 5/8/18)).

The plaintiff was an investigator and supervisor with the Chicago Civilian Office of Police Accountability. He was terminated after refusing to follow his supervisor’s direction to file a report which he believed was inaccurate and misleading. The court of appeals ruled that his refusal was that of an employee and not a private citizen, and therefore he had no First Amendment rights attached to his actions. The court went on to conclude that just because an employee has a good reason for refusing to follow a supervisor’s directions does not mean the employee’s actions are protected by the First Amendment.

Community College President Can Proceed With Wrongful Termination, Defamation and Employment Contract Violation Case as Court Rejects Board of Trustees’ Argument That a Preceeding Board Cannot Agree to a President’s Term Beyond Its Own Term

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the right of a fired community college president to sue the college’s board of trustees for wrongful termination and violation of his employment contract terms (Breuder v. Board of Trustees of Community College District No. 502 (2018 BL 134357, 7th Cir., No. 17-1577, 4/17/18)). The president was hired in 2008 under a contract that extended through 2019, but was terminated in 2015 after new members joined the college’s board of trustees.

The new board, relying upon Illinois Supreme Court precedent from the 19th century, argued that the president’s contract was unenforceable because it exceeded the term of the board that signed the deal. The court of appeals rejected the argument, holding that the Illinois Supreme Court case had been reversed by interceding state legislation that permitted college boards to set tenure policies and rules for professors and administrative staff on their own.

The outdated state Supreme Court decision would have precluded a board from making employment contracts that exceed two years. The appeals court held that to adopt the argument of the board of trustees would put Illinois community colleges at a major disadvantage to community colleges in other states that have no comparable restrictions. The court concluded that such a rule would make it difficult to attract significant talent to the state. The appeals court ruled that the former president’s wrongful termination and defamation claims should move forward, as he was terminated without a constitutionally-mandated due process hearing and was allegedly defamed as part of the process.

University Research Director Loses First Amendment Discharge Case, Court Rejects Protection of His Public Comments Critical of Research Center’s Budget, Finances and Need for More Space

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (covering North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri and Arkansas) affirmed the dismissal of a former University of North Dakota research director’s First Amendment retaliatory discharge case by the trial court, holding that the university honored the research director’s due process rights to a hearing contesting his discharge (Groenwold v. Kelley (2018 BL 143529, 8th Cir., No. 16-4019, dismissal affirmed, 4/24/18)).

The court also held that the research director’s public comments about the research center’s finances, budget and lack of space were not a matter of public concern and not protected by the First Amendment. The court concluded that just because the comments were not about his personal finances or other personal matters, that was not enough to make them a matter of public concern. Finally, the court recognized that the university had provided the research director with a pre-discharge hearing and appeal rights and concluded that his due process rights were honored, and therefore the discharge should stand.

Court Finds Employee Was Discharged Because of Temper, Not Ethnicity or National Origin, and Rejects Allegations That His Supervisor Called Him a “Hot-Headed Mexican” as Proof of National Origin Discrimination

A federal district court recently ruled that a parts manager who was called a “hot-headed Mexican” by his supervisor did not state a Title VII claim for ethnic or national origin discrimination following his discharge after an incident at a training session where he reacted aggressively and threatened a company trainer (Gonzalez v. Premier Quality Imports (2018 BL 139242, ED La., 17-6387, 4/19/18)).

The court granted summary judgment to the employer, who cited a pattern of behavior in which the employee exhibited aggressive behavior and a temper in dealing with other employees. After having negative run-ins with other employees, the plaintiff’s supervisor called him a “hot-headed Mexican.” When he told the supervisor that he was Cuban and not Mexican, the supervisor called him a “hot-headed Cuban.” The court ruled that he was clearly discharged because of the incident during the training session and not because of his ethnicity or national origin.

California to Be First State to Mandate Women on Boards

Proposed legislation being considered in the California legislature would require that California-based companies with all male boards of directors add women. If the law is passed, California would become the first state in the U.S. with such a requirement for publicly-held companies. Countries such as Norway, France and Germany already have national laws requiring gender diversity quotas to bring more women into the boardroom. While the law would not apply to nonprofits, it is likely that if passed it will be the beginning of a legislative trend that may also spread to nonprofit boards.

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While the employment of professionals in higher education saw an overall increase of 7 percent and grew in all areas over the past year, two areas — “other education” and “safety” — grew at a substantially faster clip than all the rest.

According to just-released findings from CUPA-HR’s 2018 Professionals in Higher Education Survey, while these two areas are the smallest in the higher ed professional workforce, they had the greatest growth by far among all other areas over last year.

Other education professionals (which includes the positions of biostatistician, statistician, data scientist and data analyst) grew by 43 percent, and safety professionals grew by 30 percent. Data analysts saw the greatest increase — 282 reported positions in 2017 to 545 positions in 2018. Police and public safety grew from 1,077 to 1,403 employees.

“It is not surprising that these are the positions seeing the greatest growth,” says Jacqueline Bichsel, CUPA-HR’s director of research. “Institutions continue to invest more in analytics for student success and strategic decision-making, so data analysts are in demand. And an increased media focus on sexual assaults and hazing incidents may underlie a need for a greater police presence on campus to respond to or prevent such incidents.”

Here are some other findings from this year’s survey:

Salary Increases

The overall median salary increase for professionals in higher education over the past year is 2.2 percent. The largest median salary increases for 2017-18 went to professionals in athletic affairs and institutional affairs. Professionals in academic affairs and research received the smallest median salary increases.

Highest- and Lowest-Paid Professionals

Professionals in the area of health science and environmental sustainability make the highest salaries. Those in student affairs make the lowest.

Largest Professional Areas

Academic affairs, student affairs and IT are the top three professional employment areas, making up about half of all professional positions in higher education.

Representation and Pay of Women and Minorities

In general, women are well-represented in professional positions in colleges and universities, but earn only 90 cents for every $1.00 earned by men. In contrast, racial/ethnic minorities are under-represented in most professional positions (making up only 22 percent of the higher ed professional workforce), but their salaries are nearly equal to those of their White counterparts.

Age and Years in Position

Areas with the highest median age are facilities and supervisors of office/clerical, skilled craft and service/maintenance personnel. Areas with the youngest median age are student affairs, athletic affairs and other education. Overall, professionals have been in their positions for a median of four years.

Research Professionals

This year’s survey took a deeper dive into research positions (research assistant, research associate, research scholar, senior research scholar and principal research scholar in the fields of physical, social, medical and life sciences). Among the findings:

  • The lowest-level titles — assistants and associates — make up about two-thirds of research professionals in physical sciences, social sciences and life sciences, and about 80 percent of research professionals in medical sciences.
  • The majority of higher ed research professionals are White or Asian. The representation of Hispanic/Latino and Black/African American research professionals tends to decrease with increases in rank in all fields with one exception — Hispanics/Latinos make up a relatively large proportion of principal scholars in medical sciences.

This year’s Professionals in Higher Education Survey includes data for 219,175 professionals in 358 positions at 1,110 institutions.  In addition to salary data, the survey collects data on gender, race/ethnicity, age, and years in position at the incumbent level for all professionals.

For a list of participating institutions, a report overview, information on data collected and options for purchasing the survey report and DataOnDemand, visit the Professionals in Higher Education web page.

Read about this year’s findings on administrators in higher ed and faculty survey findings around trend increases and diversity in the pipeline.

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On April 23, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) launched a new modernized version of E-Verify, the web-based program that allow employers to check an employee’s work authorization.  According to USCIS, the improvements to the system will help users enter correct information, increase the speed and accuracy of the employment eligibility verification process, decrease Tentative Nonconfirmations (TNCs), and reduce manual verifications.

They specify that the improvements include:

  • Text and visual features to help users accurately enter information into E-Verify;
  • Real-time feedback to help users quickly correct data entry errors;
  • Auto-scrolling to move to the next section on the page;
  • Fewer steps to create or close a case;
  • The ability to upload pictures of documents from a smartphone or tablet;
  • Alerts when data is entered that may lead to a TNC;
  • Updating language to use the same terms as the Form I-9;
  • Improved data matching to reduce TNCs and manual verifications; and
  • Enhancements to USCIS security and employer accountability features.

These system changes accompany a new E-Verify website that was rolled out earlier in April. The latest version of E-Verify can be found at E-Verify.gov. A new user manual and job aids are also available for the new system.

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Presidents and provosts in U.S. colleges and universities tend to change jobs frequently; in fact, administrators in higher education overall tend to have fairly short tenures, with a median of five years in their position. Data from CUPA-HR’s 2017-18 Administrators in Higher Education Survey show that presidents have been in their current position for a median of five years, and provosts have an even shorter tenure, with a median of three years in their position.

This year’s survey also found that salary slightly decreases the longer administrators (overall) are in their current position. For most administrator positions, median salaries are at a peak for those who have 10 years in their current position, but decline after that. Top executives are the exception, as their salaries are more varied over a longer tenure. However, data show that top executives with six years in their current position are not making much more than those who are new.

Says Jackie Bichsel, CUPA-HR’s director of research, “It’s not surprising that administrators overall have a relatively short median tenure. Given that those with many years of tenure do not make considerably greater salaries, their best chance for a raise may be to find a new position.”

Select Findings
Here are some other findings from this year’s survey:

Salary Increases:

  • The overall median salary increase for administrators in higher education over the past year is 2.2 percent.
  • This increase is the lowest it has been for three years. The previous two years saw increases of 2.6 percent for administrators.

Pay and Perks:

  • Deans in the health professions are the highest paid; those in special programs are lowest paid.
  • Associate/assistant deans with faculty status are paid significantly more than those without.
  • Higher ed system presidents saw an uptick in perks this year after a four-year downward trend.

Representation:

  • Just over half (51 percent) of all higher ed administrators are women, but the majority of administrators at the highest levels are men.
  • Women are better represented among deans with the lowest salaries than they are among deans with the highest salaries.
  • Racial/ethnic minorities make up 15 percent of higher ed administrators.

Pay Equity:

  • Across all administrators, women earn 82 cents on the dollar compared to men.
  • Overall, minority administrators are compensated either equally or better than their White counterparts.

A total of 51,224 administrators were reported for 197 positions from nearly 1,200 institutions for this year’s Administrators in Higher Education Survey. In addition to salary data, the survey collects data on gender, race/ethnicity, age and years in position at the incumbent level for all administrators.

For a list of participating institutions, a report overview, information on data collected and options for purchasing the survey report and DataOnDemand, visit the Administrators in Higher Education web page.

Read about this year’s faculty survey findings around trend increases and diversity in the pipeline.

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