UB Human Resources Transformation Wins Top National Award

Release Date: July 3, 2008 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Human Resources at the University at Buffalo has been named the recipient of the 2008 Excellence in Human Resource Practices Award from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) in recognition of UB's HR Transformation Initiative.

The initiative, a project that examined the delivery of HR services across the campuses, was launched in conjunction with implementation of the UB 2020 strategic plan. It has resulted in many new services for UB faculty and staff, including programs focusing on employee wellness and professional development, and new divisional HR units.

Competing for the award were the approximately 1,600 colleges and universities that comprise the national membership of CUPA-HR, an organization that provides global leadership to the higher education HR profession and the higher education community.

"We're extraordinarily proud of winning this award," said Scott Nostaja, interim vice president for human resources and chief of staff for UB President John B. Simpson. "This is essentially given to a university in the U.S. with the highest standards of HR service delivery for the year. To be singled out for HR service excellence couldn't be a better thing for our HR organization and for the university."

In addition, Nostaja said the national CUPA-HR award is "among the first external validations of our UB 2020 efforts," as well as "an incredibility powerful recognition" of the entire university community, particularly employees of University Human Resources, for all of the hard work they've contributed to the HR Transformation Initiative over the past two years."

Andy Brantley, CEO of CUPA-HR, noted that the organization's awards committee was impressed by the many creative and innovative practices UB has implemented in a short amount of time. "It's very prestigious for the University at Buffalo to be acknowledged in this way," he said.

Previous award winners include Syracuse University, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, the University of Texas-Austin, Texas A&M University and Case Western Reserve University.

Nostaja explains that in selecting the award winner, "CUPA looks carefully at service excellence

across a broad range of HR services -- from the purely transactional elements of payroll and its related activities to training, development, compensation, recruiting, performance management, conflict resolution, employer relations and so on -- with the primary test being if your organization holds up to a model that can be used as a best practice for other colleges and universities across the country. In getting this award, they're really saying we've risen to a level where other universities should be looking to the University at Buffalo as a best-practice provider," he says.

Among the initiatives recently put into place by University Human Resources that helped earn national recognition from CUPA-HR, Nostaja cites:

* Reorganization of campus-wide HR services into centralized divisional units, including those covering business services and student affairs

* Creation of a new Organizational Development and Training unit to oversee training and development across the three campuses

* Establishment of the Wellness & Work/Life Balance unit, which offers employees access to such services as smoking-cessation programs and discount gym memberships

* Automation of various HR processes.

Nostaja also points to such innovations as the expansion of the Employee Assistance Program; creation of UB CORE (Community OutReach for Employees), a new employee volunteer program; and the implementation of new technologies, including automated personnel transaction forms, online recruitment tools and a user-friendly, newly redesigned HR Web site.

"Moving from a completely decentralized model to one that focuses on a strong central organization and strong divisional HR units was really the catalyst for allowing us to change HR," said Nostaja. "What probably got us the most attention was our beginning to provide more strategic, or 'value-added,' HR services, which in the past we weren't able to do."

Earlier this spring, UB received the Excellence in Human Resource Practices Award from the Eastern Region of CUPA-HR, an honor that led to UB being one of five regional winners in the running for the national award. In April, Simpson praised HR for receiving the regional award during a speech to the Professional Staff Senate, noting that recognition from a national organization devoted to best practices in university HR served to "validate and give significance" to the HR Transformation process, as well as provide "recognition of a great deal of hard work on the part of many people."

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.