Changes in Human Resources Management at OSU

Baker Tilly, an international consulting firm, was engaged to review Oregon State University’s current HR structure; explore models and approaches to delivering HR services at similar higher education institutions; identify recommendations for how best to deliver HR services at OSU; and provide the recommended roles and responsibilities, qualifications and attributes of the university’s next chief human resources officer.

A steering committee comprised of campus leaders provided oversight to this effort. In this evaluation, Baker Tilly conducted 24 one-on-one and focus group interviews with over 150 faculty and staff compared those results with their experience of the delivery of HR services at similar institutions. In addition, Baker Tilly performed a review of documentation including central and business center HR policies, procedures, surveys, position descriptions and strategic initiatives. The concerns they identified included:

  • Lack of strategic-level HR leadership
  • Ineffective OHR and Business Center structure
  • Unclear OHR and Business Center HR roles and responsibilities
  • Lack of clarity on BC HR staff competency requirements and staffing levels
  • Unclear policy and process governance
  • Untimely HR transaction processing
  • Inconsistent university-wide training and development
  • Obsolete and incompatible HR systems

Baker Tilly noted universal commitment within the OSU community to develop a more holistic human resources function within OSU.  For example, university HR stakeholders want to capitalize on the opportunity to implement best practices, and staff are passionate and committed to partnering with university academic and administrative management to provide excellent human resource services.

Baker Tilly has recommended changes to ensure that the basic human resources management needs of the university are met and for OSU to have an effective and strategic approach to human resources management institution-wide. It is recommended that the university:

  1. Ensure that the chief human resources officer (CHRO) is positioned as a strategic leader and is given appropriate authority to drive specific strategic results.
  2. Clearly define effective HR reporting lines and increase collaboration between HR functions currently within the business centers and central HR.
  3. Clarify and value the roles that all staff, offices, and departments provide relative to HR services across the organization. Align required competencies with those roles which support execution of human resources strategy and move away from a purely transactional approach.
  4. Ensure that HR policies are developed with all key stakeholders in mind; that distributed HR service delivery is understood and embraced; staff are trained; and that policies are consistently and correctly applied.
  5. Utilize data and trend analysis to make decisions, change approaches, set priorities and redesign technology to effectively support HR functions and human resource management decisions.

The interim vice president for finance and administration, in collaboration with the steering committee, has identified the hiring of a new CHRO and organizational redesign as the first priorities to advance. This foundation will enable management and staff within HR to prioritize and identify ways to implement and capitalize upon recommendations three, four and five. 

After considering the consultant’s recommendations and in consultation with the steering committee and the Provost’s Council, university administration has changed the organizational structure of the human resources function as follows:

  • Human resources professionals in the business centers will become a part of—and have a direct reporting relationship within—the Office of Human Resources, and will continue to collaborate with Business Center finance professionals to provide human resource services.
  • Human resources managers within the Business Centers will continue in their current roles serving the same academic and administrative units, but will carry the new title of Human Resources Business Partnership Managers.
  • HR Business Partnership Managers will report to and have the support of a newly created Director of HR Business Partnerships, who will report directly to the CHRO.
  • HR Business Partnership Managers will have the support from experts in the major functional areas of HR to provide the full range of human resources services to their academic and administrative partners.
  • Business Center Managers will focus their direct oversight on their finance and accounting responsibilities, while continuing to collaborate with the human resources professionals throughout the organization to help ensure seamless operations.

These organizational changes became effective February 1, 2017. 

This change to a HR Business Partner model will help clarify roles and provide core HR services seamlessly to colleges and departments, while also serving to provide strategic partnerships on larger-scale human resources matters. We are addressing other Baker Tilley recommendations through actions like policy and systems reviews, HR position assessment and realignment, and streamlining processes to realize the intended goals of consistency and enhanced customer service. 

Toni Doolen, Dean of the University Honors College, who helped provide oversight and guidance to the HR review by Baker Tilly, has agreed to partner with Donna Chastain, Interim Chief Human Resources Officer, and the HR team to assist with this transition and with reengineering the student and adjunct faculty hiring processes. Additionally, we recently convened a search committee, led by Susan Capalbo, Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, to help select OSU’s next chief human resources officer.