Life got just a little easier for UI human resources officers and anyone else on campus involved in the hiring process.
On Aug. 21, Phyllis M. Wise, university vice president and Urbana campus chancellor, announced sweeping changes to the academic search/hiring processes, changes designed to simplify and eliminate paperwork, and generally streamline approval procedures.
Several changes that reduce paperwork, developed by the Office of Human Resources, the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access, and the Office of the Provost, already are in effect, and several more are on the way.
Most of the changes target faculty member and academic professional hires.
"This process was a three-party effort with the common goal of trying to address what the chancellor was hearing," said Elyne Cole, the associate provost for human resources.
And what the chancellor had been hearing about the search and hire process in her first-year Listening and Learning Tour was not good.
"I heard many concerns about the search/hiring process and how complicated it had become," Wise said. "There is no doubt that the process had become overly complex and burdensome at times."
It had become that way by design as increasingly limited state funding also limited the university's ability to actively hire. Those who were hired had their applications subjected to a tremendous degree of oversight, including redundant paperwork and repetitive levels of approval.
"There were instances where someone wanted to make a hire, but they couldn't make an offer quickly enough," said Heidi Johnson, the senior associate director of the OEOA. "It was simply taking too long to get somebody new on board."
During that period, college leaders were asked to submit hiring plans and to use a common hiring request form - though some flexibility was offered for grant-funded programming.
The hiring plans are still in effect, but the requirement for a hiring request form has been eliminated for most positions, and the form available in the online Hire Touch application is being streamlined to make the search and hiring process easier from start to finish. Hires outside of a college's plan, or those funded by state or Indirect Cost Recovery funds, still require the hiring request form.
"We are also working to simplify the form so the process can be expedited," said Deborah Stone, the director of academic human resources. She said that's good for those making hires and for the human resources employees navigating the paperwork.
"Now it's one continuous process even though two offices have oversight of certain parts of it," Cole said.
HR and OEOA will soon announce workshops addressing the changes in the search and hire processes.
Other changes that went into effect Aug. 16:
- Eliminating Provost Office approval for offers higher than the indicated range, (except for offers 15 percent greater or more).
- Reducing approvals for all OEOA forms.
- Simplifying OEOA form content.
- Replacing department Affirmative Action officers with search committee members serving as diversity advocates.
- Simplifying the hiring request form.
- Electronically routing approvals for administrative salaries greater than $90,000.
More information is available on the Academic Human Resources website.