UVa Attacks Administrative Bloat in HR Consolidation

The University of Virginia has downsized its Human Resources staff from 270 employees to 240, and could slim down by another 40 full-time-equivalent positions as it merges the HR departments of its academic and medical divisions, reports the Daily Progress.

The staff restructuring project, which UVa calls UFirst, is part of the university’s multi-year Cornerstone Plan, passed by the Board of Visitors in 2013, to save money on organizational costs. The current system is afflicted with “systemic inefficiencies and redundancies,” including “70+ disjointed systems that collect HR data and five different learning management systems across three entities,” states the UFirst website devoted to the new HR system.

UFirst is designed to cut down on bureaucratic waste and lead to a better employee experience. “UVa will be positioned to continue to attract and retain the best talent in support of excellence in education, research, patient care and public service,” UVa spokesman Anthony de Bruyn told the Daily Progress.

The university has experienced some pushback on the changes, as evidenced by an anonymous letter to the Charlottesville newspaper signed by “A dedicated and concerned UVa employee.”

The employee claimed that the senior university officials have not kept affected employees in the loop about the latest round of changes, reports the Daily Progress. “This is not the way people should be treated,” the employee wrote. “I have always been very proud of working at UVa and can’t believe we are being treated with such disrespect.”

De Bruyn says the university has posted information on the UFirst website and is holding informational meetings this month.

Bacon’s bottom line: Good for UVa! It’s possible that the university could do a better job of communicating with employees. But, let’s face it, when departments are consolidated, employees lose their jobs, and other people find themselves reporting to new bosses, it’s impossible to make everyone happy. The larger lesson here is that UVa, at long last, is taking concrete action to reduce the size of its burgeoning bureaucracy. A 26% reduction in H.R. manpower is serious business.

Indeed, UVa could be criticized for taking so long to execute the change. Higher-ed restructuring legislation enacted 12 years ago emancipated UVa from rigid adherence to state personnel policies, and the university announced its intention years ago to wring out savings through process and administrative reforms. By private-sector standards, the changes have been sluggish. But this a public university, so we should be happy to see reform of any kind. Hopefully, the administration won’t be spooked by the publicity and will carry through forthrightly.

Virginia Commonwealth University, it is worth noting, just received Board of Visitors approval for major HR reforms as well. As taxpayers and parents of students, let us hope these HR reforms portend even more serious attacks on administrative bloat in the years ahead.

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7 responses to “UVa Attacks Administrative Bloat in HR Consolidation”

  1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd

    One could write a book on this post. I won’t write a book but perhaps the outline for a book when time allows, after Memorial Day weekend.

    Meanwhile, its time for crabbin’, fishin’, kayakin’, beer drinkin and grand-kids galore down by the floating dock on the river.

    1. Acbar Avatar

      You have your priorities straight — congratulations.

  2. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    Even Fairfax County and its Schools have started to realize they need to consolidate support services when appropriate. I’d like to see a chart showing the increase in support services personnel over the last 20 years for colleges and universities (both private and public) and state and local government. I have the impression that the feds (at least in some agencies) have consolidated and reduced support headcount some just like private industry.

  3. LarrytheG Avatar

    You want to see a labor-intensive type work? The next time you pick up a prescription – count the people working.. any surprise that drugs cost out the wazoo these days! Ah.. that good ole free market!


  4. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    The McLean Giant, which is the highest volume store in the chain, normally seems to have 3 or 4 people working in the Pharmacy. That doesn’t seem excessive to me.

    1. Acbar Avatar

      It seems like at least one of them spends all his/her time checking out every request to buy a Sudafed pill.

    2. LarrytheG Avatar

      TMT – Giant yes.. 2-4 … but Walmart and CVS…10-15…

      re; sudafed… never use the stuff but my wife does.. and sometimes exceeds her quota and I have to do the deed.. feeling like I’m breaking the law or something.

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