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FSU HR Professionals Discuss Unique Challenges in Higher Education at a National Conference

HR professionals in higher education face some unique challenges, since most universities offer tenure. The College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR), a dedicated association for HR professionals at colleges and universities, addresses issues like how to maintain pay equity when hiring new faculty who are likely to be highly prominent in their field.

The CUPA-HR met recently in DC. More than 1,000 HR managers from colleges and universities attended this year’s conference.

Four members of the HR team from Florida State University (FSU) gave advice to their colleagues from around the country at a DC meeting in September. The FSU representatives included:

  • Christine Conely – Associate Director of the Office of HR
  • Phaedra Harris – Director of HR Operations
  • Rebecca Peterson – Assistant Director for Faculty Relations
  • Renisha Gibbs – Assistant VP of Human Relations

Gibbs and Peterson spoke about “Balancing Equity with Performance” for faculty salaries. The speakers gave strategies on how to retain the best faculty despite increased salaries for professors across the country. HR professionals often face two particular complications when deciding faculty salaries:

  • Compression – Similar pay rates despite different levels of experience or qualifications
  • Inversion – Senior educators earn lower salaries than less experienced faculty members

The presentation encouraged senior HR managers to work with administrative leaders to ensure that their compensation strategy aligns with the institution’s goals and strategies. Their sentiments echoed those of high-level administrators at Florida State who believe that future success at the University will be ensured by maintaining a top-class faculty.

In addition, Harris and Conely spoke about “The Electronic Employee Blueprint” and offered practical guidance to modernize business practices. These HR directors stressed that switching from paper-based to electronic-based practices serves as one of the main ways that HR can keep business practices up-to-date and efficient.

Conely remarked that being selected for two presentations demonstrated that FSU is “leading the way in best practices that can benefit other HR professionals.”


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