After a long recommendations process, the proposal to redesign the University of Wisconsin’s human resources setup is beginning to make its way through the administrative approval process.
Earlier this week, the Faculty Senate approved the redesign plan that has been the focus of controversy and praise within the university community for the last several months. The process is beginning to have implications for the future of the faculty’s relationship with the administration, including Chancellor David Ward.
The HR proposal is a revamping of the university’s approach to a variety of human resource issues such as compensation, hierarchy, categorization and diversity. The university was given the power to make the redesign after gaining flexibility granted in the state budget.
Since the recommendations were released earlier this year, labor advocates and a variety of people connected to UW have opposed the plan partly because it proposes a market-based solution to compensation.
At the Monday night meeting, Faculty Senate rejected an amendment that would give shared governance groups at UW, including the University Committee, a say in decisions made on the plan in the future, according to Noah Feinstein, an assistant professor of curriculum and instruction.
“What I asked for with the amendment was just to specify that when reports and recommendations came out of the HR design plan process in the future that we, the Faculty Senate, and other shared governance bodies would have a chance to show our approval or disapproval,” Feinstein said.
Feinstein said he thinks the amendment was rejected for two main reasons, including many faculty senators mistakenly thinking support of the amendment was a rejection of the overall resolution.
The other reason, Feinstein said, was the faculty senators trust Ward to negotiate for their benefits and compensation well on their behalf. He added he wants to ensure the new chancellor will be aware of Faculty Senate’s interests.
“The Faculty Senate really likes and respects the current chancellor and trusts him to do the really hard and dirty work of negotiating what comes next for us,” Feinstein said. “This is a good and strong relationship, but of course, we are about to get a new chancellor and we do not know who that is going to be.”
Professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences and University Committee member Grant Petty said the Faculty Senate’s approval, despite rejecting the proposed amendment, shows the public that the faculty of UW wants to be involved in the HR Redesign process.
“I see [the Faculty Senate's approval] as a public statement that the faculty have been, and expect to be, active participants in the HR Design Process and that we are mostly satisfied with both the process and the outcomes up to this point,” Petty said in an email to The Badger Herald.
Petty added the Faculty Senate’s decision was important, as it is the first of many approvals necessary to get the plan implemented.
According to the statues set in the state budget, the redesign must be approved by July 1, 2013.
Petty said now that the Faculty Senate approved the proposed plan and must gain acceptance from several other governance bodies before it can go into effect on July 1.
“There are several additional steps that have to occur before [the plan can go into effect], including acceptance by the Board of Regents and by the state legislature’s Joint Committee On Employee Relations,” Petty said. “Also, laws have to be passed by the legislature to enable some of the changes.”
Petty said these next phases of the plan’s implementation process will be managed by the chancellor and the Office of Human Resources here at UW. He added the next vital step will be the presentation of the plan to the UW Board of Regents this Thursday in an effort to gain their approval.