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Campus launches historic human resources design project

November 15, 2011 By Dennis Chaptman

A campuswide effort to build a new University of Wisconsin–Madison human resources and personnel system is underway, with the goal of creating a more efficient system better able to serve employees, the university and the citizens of Wisconsin.

“The Legislature has offered us the rare opportunity to craft a human resources framework that is better suited to a public research institution in the 21st century,” says Gary Sandefur, dean of the College of Letters and Science and chair of the project’s Advisory Committee.

Sandefur says the project, which is expected to span 18 months, will provide consistency, better and more agile human resources processes, more clarity for employees and more administrative efficiency.

“This is a complex project, but one we feel will shape how we recruit, reward, develop and manage our workforce,” Sandefur adds. “We are a human-capital intensive operation with needs specific to higher education and our human resources policies need to reflect that.”

Officials say the process will be a transparent one that engages the campus, its workforce and the various governance groups involved.

Vice Chancellor for Administration Darrell Bazzell says one of the project’s first goals is to have an outline of the scope and form of the new personnel system formulated by spring 2012. The campus is collaborating with UW System as the work advances.

The aim of the project is not just to create a pay plan or salary adjustment mechanism, but the design a new personnel system that provides for the unique needs of UW–Madison. Current state benefit programs will remain within the new structure, officials say.

“This project is not being done to reduce anyone’s pay or benefits,” Bazzell says. “Our aim is to be a competitive employer, attract and retain talented people and ensure that HR and personnel policies make sense in a university setting and provide value.”

Bob Lavigna, UW–Madison’s director of human resources and project lead, says the initiative will develop a more integrated approach to how the university attracts and manages talent.

“These changes will be designed to ensure we can attract, develop and retain a workforce that is world-class, diverse and highly engaged. We want to create a system that is flexible so that we can make continual improvements to our HR processes,” Lavigna says.

Any increases in pay or benefits would depend on whether the financial resources were available to the university, officials say.

An informational website for the project, one which will evolve over time to provide the most timely and detailed information, can be accessed at