Hull moves to Organizational Excellence
June 8, 2012
By Dave Jones
NEW HR LEADER
Susan M. Gilbert starts Monday (June 11) as the Davis campus’s new associate vice chancellor for Human Resources.
“I am so appreciative to our recruitment advisory committee for bringing a candidate of this caliber,” said John Meyer, vice chancellor of Administrative and Resource Management. “Susan’s experience and style will keep us on our path of continuous improvement in support of UC Davis.”
Gilbert previously worked for 18 years as an executive at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston. She started there in 1993 as director of the Office of Staff Services, dealing with human resources, and faculty recruitment, compensation and employee relations.
She served as an associate vice president in four areas from 1996 to 2010: Academic Administration, Clinical Programs, Diversity Programs, and Diversity and Inclusion.
In her last post, she was responsible for the development, implementation and measurement of all diversity and inclusion programs for the cancer center’s 18,000-employee work force.
Upon leaving the cancer center in 2010, she started a consulting practice in the Houston area, helping to build cultural competence and inclusion in health care organizations.
Gilbert attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and a Master of Science degree in educational psychology. She is certified in health care management, as a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, and a certified mediator.
Davis campus Human Resources chief Karen Hull is moving into a new role to oversee Organizational Excellence.
She knows the territory, having led the development of the campus’s Shared Services Center, a giant first step toward a better organized, more efficient way of running the university. The center opened in February after two years of planning.
Hull, a 22-year veteran of the UC Davis staff, managed the shared services implementation project for three years in addition to her role as associate vice chancellor of Human Resources. Now she will devote all of her time to Organizational Excellence, with a goal of broadening its impact across the campus.
More Organizational Excellence does not necessarily mean more shared services, Hull said. “It means having the best organizational model at the lowest cost. Organizational Excellence will provide the tools, resources and training to get there — at no cost to the units.”
Stepping in as Human Resources associate vice chancellor is Susan M. Gilbert (see box). Hull will work with her during a two-month transition before going full time in Organizational Excellence, which, like HR, is a unit of Administrative and Resource Management.
“Organizational Excellence, so very important to the campus’s financial future, needed a leader solely dedicated to this project,” said John Meyer, vice chancellor of Administrative and Resource Management. The Shared Services Center, for example, is expected to save $4 million in 2012-13. Long term, with subsequent phases, the campus estimates savings of $10 million annually.
The center handles transactional work relative to finance, human resources and payroll for these units: Administrative and Resource Management, Office of the Chancellor and Office of the Provost, Information and Educational Technology, Office of Research (vice chancellor’s office) and Student Affairs, plus Development and Alumni Relations and the other units that comprised the former University Relations and External Relations.
The next step calls for these units to go through the Shared Services Center for certain information technology needs: help desk and desktop support.
Opportunities on the academic side
While the Shared Services Center supports administration units, a committee of assistant deans and others is exploring opportunities for greater efficiencies in academic administration. Hull, associate vice chancellor of Organizational Excellence, and Steven Roth, assistant dean, Division of Social Sciences, in the College of Letters and Science, are leading this effort.
Whether on the academic side or the administrative side, Hull and her team will help facilitate and guide departments through organizational change. Services might include assisting in strategic planning, building effective teams, mapping and re-engineering business processes, and other improvement and efficiency strategies.
“The wisdom and ideas for improvement are always held in the departments, in the people who do the work and who know what needs to be changed,” Hull said.
Hull added that UC Davis is “fortunate that executive leadership has invested in an Organizational Excellence team capable of expanding our ability to advance these types of efforts on our campus.”
The campus embraced “organizational excellence” even before adopting that term as the initiative’s title. First it was the Administrative Process Redesign Initiative, which, in its first year, 2009, saw the consolidation of the Office of Administration and the Office of Resource Management and Planning — creating Administrative and Resource Management.
Other major reorganizations since then have involved Facilities Management, Budget and Institutional Analysis, grounds and landscaping, the Division of Social Sciences, and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
Hull joined the university in 1988, working in UC Davis Extension as a program representative, a continuing education specialist and a department chair. She left the campus for two years, then returned to lead Campus Events and Visitor Services.
Eventually, she added Mediation Services, Organizational Development, Transportation and Parking Services, Fleet Services and Repro Graphics to her portfolio in the former Office of Administration.
She held the title associate vice chancellor for business services — a natural fit for someone like Hull with a Master of Business Administration.
Then, in July 2007, she took the helm of Human Resources, not as an HR expert but as a leader, someone new to the organization and its work, someone who could ask, “Why do we do things like that?” — and, when appropriate, institute changes.
She credited the HR team for “being tremendously professional, incredibly capable and service-oriented” — all of vital importance as the campus endured budget cuts, furloughs, campus closures and 500 layoffs since 2007-08.
“No, it was not easy,” said Hull, who lost positions in her own unit. She said she is proud of HR’s role in supporting the campus in transition and change through a variety of services, including employee counseling and training, organizational redesign, and preparing UC Davis employees for job searches on and off campus.
New reality: Fewer resources
The transition to the Shared Services Center was equally daunting, a very emotional time for employees as the campus moved to a new way of doing business. But, during the two-year process, Hull and her team kept the campus informed at town halls and brown bags, and even offered classes on the shared services work environment (as people decided whether to apply for jobs at the center), and how to cope with stress and change.
For Hull and other campus leaders, who dealt with a 32 percent cut in unrestricted state funding (a loss of $139 million) over four years, the handwriting was on the wall. “We knew we were going to have reductions, so we had to figure out how to manage our work with fewer resources,” she said.
The Shared Services Center is one only strategy. Administrative clusters (in which departments share personnel) comprise another. Other opportunities include work simplification, increasing employee engagement and identifying better ways to link resource planning with customer priorities.
If asked, Hull and her team will assist departments in developing their own strategies to address “pain points” and identify areas that could benefit from intervention. Then the Organizational Excellence team will help the departments stay on track.
“We don’t want people to talk about change for half a day, and then not make it happen,” she said. “We are creating our own future, making things better than they are today.”
Reach Dateline UC Davis Editor Dave Jones at (530) 752-6556 or email@example.com.
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