Faculty Senate accepts HR Design Strategic Plan framework

Dec. 4, 2012

by Greg Bump

The Faculty Senate on Monday approved a resolution accepting the framework of the HR Design Strategic Plan, a proposal that aims to update UW–Madison’s personnel system to attract, develop and retain the best talent for a leading research and teaching institution.

The Academic Staff Assembly, the Council for Non-Represented Classified Staff and Associated Students of Madison have also accepted the plan framework. The approvals follow a nearly yearlong engagement and collaboration process with campus stakeholders.

“The affirmation of the governance groups is a major step forward for this plan,” Interim Chancellor David Ward says. “We appreciate the hard work members of these groups have put in over this process, and will continue to engage these governance groups and other campus stakeholders throughout development of the plan.”

A provision in the 2012-13 state budget authorized UW–Madison and the UW System to create personnel systems separate from other state agencies’. Under the plan, university employees will remain state employees and continue to participate in the Wisconsin Retirement System and other state benefit programs. The statutes direct the new personnel systems be implemented by July 1, 2013.

The Faculty Senate accepted the framework by passing a University Committee resolution acknowledging that the faculty has primary responsibility over academic and educational activities and faculty personnel matters with respect to policies developed in the HR Design process. The resolution also emphasizes quality instruction and a commitment to balance equity with market and merit considerations when determining compensation.

A vote on the University Committee resolution was delayed in November after senators expressed concern about approving the framework before the project’s executive sponsors — Ward, Provost Paul M. De Luca Jr. and Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Darrell Bazzell — approved the framework. Since that meeting several changes were made to the framework, including more clearly stating the crucial role of shared governance in implementation.

The University Committee resolution was approved following the rejection of an amendment that called for shared governance bodies to have approval over future recommendations of the ongoing HR Design process “without which approval they will not proceed.”

Amendment author Noah Feinstein, a faculty senator and assistant professor of curriculum and instruction, said the changes in the framework since the November meeting are due to a robust shared governance process.

“I think we are looking at a much better plan today than we were looking at last month,” he said. “I proposed an amendment because I believe we did our job but our job is not yet done.”

But those who spoke against the amendment said it was redundant and could lead to gridlock.

University Committee member Michael Bernard-Donals, a professor of English, said the amendment could “effectively stop the implementation of the human resources system if any of the governance groups were unhappy with it.”

“The resolution as written already insists that the implementation framework will move forward through shared governance,” he said.

Mark Cook, chair of the University Committee and professor of animal science, said, “This framework was probably governance at its best.”  

The framework of the plan, along with the UW System’s separate personnel proposal, will be presented Thursday to the UW Board of Regents’ Business, Finance and Audit Committee. The plan will go before the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Employment Relations this spring.