UPDATED! UW-Madison’s Community Speaks Out on HR Design

October 31, 2012 | Blog

Tuesday morning at 11 am, my colleagues and I initiated an online petition requesting that the Director of Human Resources at UW-Madison, Bob Lavigna, put his good intentions for revising the HR plan in writing before shared governance groups are asked to vote on the plan next week.

Just one day later, we had 223 signatures and counting!  Two days later we crossed the 300 mark.  This includes dozens of faculty, including many prominent, senior members who know and love the place.  Clearly, in this town people care about having information at hand and in writing before they’re asked to vote.  As Marcia Schiffman of the Department of Opthamology and Visual Science put it, “How can you make an informed decision either way without the actual proposal, changes and all, in front of you?”

One of the best things about an online petition is that signers can leave comments, and as a sociologist I’m finding their words full of insights into how we struggle to make public higher education a better place.  Consider what this effort means to them.

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The HR redesign plan will have deep, long-run implications for the climate and values at the University of Wisconsin. Often such institutional redesigns have significant ‘unintended consequences.’ Only if the details are clear and explicit is it possible to assess these implications.”

Erik Olin Wright, Professor, Department of Sociology

There are reasons why people work for corporations or work for the University. I’ve worked at the UW for 20 years and I always felt the employee had a voice. This has not been the feeling in the last few years. We need to bring that back and now is the time to start.

 Mark Mears, Graduate Coordinator, Department of German
“As an Assistant Professor at UW-Madison, it is imperative to me that the process and outcomes of the HR Design plan reflect our campus values and commitments, and that this process be as transparent and open as possible.”
Edward Hubbard, Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Psychology

I sign this petition because I love this university and am so proud to work at a university that values faculty governance and values every one of its employees. The HR design can strengthen or weaken this incredible institution.”
                          Nancy Kendall, Associate Professor, Department of Educational Policy Studies
“We don’t need to move backward, we need to move forward. This effects all employees of UW-Madison. Everyone has a voice and should be heard. We should be able to work coopertavely, together.”
Marsha Abrams, Medical Associate, Department of Psychiatry
“Working for the UW used to come with shiny bells and whistles. The shininess has been replaced by rust in the matter of a few years. People are talking more about leaving the UW than staying. I don’t want to feel as if I am expendable, nor do I want my fellow co-workers to feel that way. It is only fair and just to be fully informed, not just be shown what are to be the benefits of the new OHR system, but what is hidden in the dark corners as well. A well informed community is what is needed in order to make a wise decision towards any investment, and this would be a huge investment for our University. Our place of work, our lives, our family’s lives, the student’s lives, and the city’s heart will all be impacted.”
Kristina Kendall, Accounts Payable
Effective faculty governance requires full access to information.”
Jon McKenzie, Associate Professor, Department of English

As encouraged by George McGovern, I wish to be a voice of conscience.”
Teryl Dobbs, Assistant Professor, Department of Music Education
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Finally, as we look forward into our future– and our new chancellor– I leave you with these words of warning issued by Jay Stamper, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis: “It is best to go into the future with a well developed plan.” 
Join us–sign now— and tell us what you think.

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