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UW-Madison names human resources director

July 14, 2010 By Dennis Chaptman

Robert J. Lavigna, vice president for research at the Partnership for Public Service, has been named the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s human resources director.

“Bob possesses a nationally respected knowledge of human resources, plus a thorough understanding of Wisconsin’s human resources system,” says Darrell Bazzell, vice chancellor for administration at UW–Madison. “He also brings to the university a deep respect for the importance of human capital, an appreciation for research and an ability to make data-driven decisions.”

Lavigna served as administrator of the Division of Merit Recruitment and Selection for the state of Wisconsin from 1991-2001. Before being appointed to that position, he served with the U.S. Government Accountability Office for 17 years.

From 2001 until taking his position with the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service in 2006, he was a senior manager of consulting for CPS Human Resources Services, directing human resources consulting projects in a 36-state region.

After taking his post with the Partnership for Public Service, Lavigna split time between Madison and Washington, D.C.

“To be able to live and work in Madison full-time and make a contribution to one of the world’s great universities really attracted me,” says Lavigna, who plans to start his new role on Sept. 1.

“I believe that organizational success is all about talent, and I am committed to ensuring that our human resources office enables the university to attract, develop and retain the best talent. That’s how we can help achieve the chancellor’s vision that the University of Wisconsin–Madison is a model public university in the 21st century,” Lavigna adds.

UW-Madison’s human resources director leads the human resources enterprise for an institution with approximately 15,000 employees, including more than 2,100 faculty, 7,000 academic staff and 5,200 classified staff, plus 5,000 graduate assistants and 7,000 student employees.

In addition to providing leadership, policy direction and management oversight of all human resources services for faculty and staff, the human resources director will take a lead role in developing programs to realize campus goals, such as recruiting and retaining a diverse faculty and staff and integrating new technology.

At the Partnership for Public Service, Lavigna designed and directed major human resources research projects that helped public-sector organizations improve their effectiveness in attracting, developing and retaining employee talent.

Lavigna is also the past president of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources and past chair of the American Society for Public Administration Section on Personnel and Labor Relations.

He is an elected fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and was the first human resources executive chosen for a Council of State Governments fellowship.

In 2000, he was selected as a “Public Official of the Year” by Governing magazine and has received innovation awards from major human resources organizations.

At UW–Madison, he succeeds the retired Carla Raatz, who held the position since 1988.

Lavigna earned a bachelor’s degree in public affairs from George Washington University and a master’s in human resources from Cornell University. He has also done doctoral work at UW–Madison.

A 17-member search-and-screen committee — which included faculty, staff and students and was chaired by College of Letters & Science Dean Gary Sandefur — worked to narrow the field of candidates to four finalists.

In his new position, Lavigna will earn an annual salary of $170,000.