Dissent continues over new CHRO position


New chief human resources officer Libby Ciliberti.

The approval of a salary and benefits for the newly created chief human resources officer (CHRO) position continues to be met with some disagreement.

The funding was approved at the June 6 Board of Trustees meeting as part of a total budget of $263,572,470 for fiscal year 2017. The CHRO’s salary and benefit package totals $261,100.

The budget was proposed by Oakland University administration.

All of the board members except one approved the budget with the support of President George Hynd; James Lentini, senior vice president for Academic Affairs and provost; and Scott Kunselman, chief operating officer.

Trustee Ronald E. Robinson, the dissenting voice on the board, did not see the need for the creation of the position, which was approved at the Feb. 22, 2016 board meeting. Robinson did not approve the budget for fiscal year 2017.

Robinson said there was no official study or analysis of OU’s current human resources department that would justify the necessity of a CHRO.

“I haven’t heard a persuasive argument as to why we need one,” he said, adding that there is no reason to add another layer of administrative cost to tuition.

He also said that there was no discussion at the Feb. 22 meeting about the creation of the position.

The proposal of the position itself was included in the consent agenda from the Feb. 22 meeting under a section titled “University Personnel Actions.”

Items in the consent agenda are only addressed if a trustee requests to discuss a particular section. The entire consent agenda can be approved without any discussion.

“I believe this item was intentionally buried in the consent agenda after a long list of personnel changes,” Robinson said in an email. “The board chair sets and approves the agenda items and decides which items will be in the consent agenda and which items will be discussed.”

Even so, all trustees receive detailed documents regarding the entire agenda, including the consent agenda, before each formal board session.

Robinson did not notice the proposal to create the position and therefore did not ask that it be discussed.

The position was advertised soon after it was approved. It was filled after a national search, according to a press release sent out by Kunselman on June 7. The Board of Trustees was not involved in the search or interview process.

According to Mark Schlussel, chair of the board, the board is not often involved in searches for administrative positions that are lower than vice presidents. Schlussel found out about the hire with the rest of the campus community on June 7.

Kunselman and Hynd were the main advocates and planners for the position, Kunselman said.

Currently, University Human Resources (UHR) (click here for more on UHR) is split into two groups – one for academic employees and one for administration, but there is some overlap.

With the changes, the two halves of UHR will be consolidated under the CHRO. Additionally, the OU Council on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (click here for more on the council), which currently operates within the legal department, will be moved to HR when the CHRO takes over.

Kunselman said positions were added to OU to accommodate its rapid growth, which sometimes decreased efficiency in the long run. With the CHRO, vacant positions will be filled faster and with less fuss.

“I would like to see us move to be more strategic and a more service-oriented function within the institution,” Kunselman said.

Schlussel said that tuition increases and the addition of positions like the CHRO are never taken lightly, but he believes that the CHRO will save OU money down the road.

“The administration is very interested in efficiency,” Schlussel said.

Libby Ciliberti was hired as the CHRO and her appointment will be effective July 11.