Candidates vie for human resources position

by Jeremy Taff

Try making sure 30,728 full- and part-time University employees have all their paperwork filled out and their disputes handled.
That’s part of the task awaiting one of three finalists for the vice president for human resources position. Public interviews are being conducted this week.
While only directly overseeing 160 staff members, decisions made by the new vice president will affect all University employees. And the position holds more clout than ever.
After taking office last fall, University President Mark Yudof upgraded the position’s status from associate vice president to vice president.
“He showed that people are the most important aspect here at the University,” said Carol Carrier, acting vice president for human resources and one of the three remaining candidates.
Jackie McClain from the University of Michigan is scheduled for a public interview Friday. Carrier and C. Keith Groty from Michigan State University have had their public interviews.
Bob Bruininks, executive vice president and provost, has met individually with Carrier and Groty. He plans to meet McClain on Friday.
“The two candidates so far have been extremely well qualified,” Bruininks said. “They obviously come from first-rate environments with extensive experience.”
The three candidates know each other from conferences they attended as human resource representatives from their respective institutions.
“We’ve all worked together before,” Groty said. “We’re friends.”
When McClain comes to town Friday she will likely face questions along the same lines as those posed to Groty on Monday. In one case, an audience member asked him to describe how he would spend a $100,000 budget allocation.
Groty responded that he would seek suggestions and information from stakeholders before committing to any specific expenditure.
Carrier said during a separate interview Monday that she had many long-term plans for the human resources office.
“I’m very interested in simplifying and streamlining some of the administration’s prophecies,” Carrier said. “We also need to continue training and developing opportunities for all of our faculty, staff and students within the whole University.”
She added that PeopleSoft, the new computer system intended to organize human resources, will be an important tool for accomplishing these long-term goals.
Groty also touched on the significance of the system.
“As we put in the new information systems we need to make sure that people are well-schooled in how to use it,” Groty said. “We need to lift this organization to a new plateau.”
Bruininks said although the system will not be completely implemented for two to three years, parts of the system will be in place by fall.
“If the U of M is going to be an outstanding public research, teaching and land-grant university, it will be extremely important to have an exceptional human resources program,” he said.