HR Design approval is welcome news for UW–Madison

The employees we have at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are among the best anywhere, whether they provide world-class instruction, perform valuable research, or provide the support for our academic and research missions. Each employee plays an important role, and our university as a whole could not function without the daily contributions of many.

That is why I am grateful to the legislative leaders and members of the Joint Committee on Employment Relations for approving HR Design. The implementation of our own personnel system, to be effective July 1, 2015, gives us important tools that will help UW remain a preeminent university into the 21st century.

The legislators recognize that UW–Madison is not like other state agencies. While we receive a significant portion of our budget from the state, much of the university’s funding comes from other sources, including federal dollars for research and private funding from alumni and supporters. For many of our jobs, we compete for talent in national and international markets. To attract, develop and retain the best employees, we must have a nimble human resources system. The flexibility given us in HR Design, and in accompanying legislation we will work to pass, is needed for this large and complex organization to manage its most important resources – its people – more effectively.

The plan approved today will allow us to create UW-Madison-specific processes to:

  • Recruit and hire more effectively and efficiently, particularly for classified staff;
  • Develop a job title and compensation system that makes sense for an institution of higher education;
  • Provide market-based compensation to all employees and ensure that all of our employees are paid at least a living wage;
  • Create new employee grievance and layoff procedures that balance employee rights with management flexibility; and
  • Move salaried classified positions to the academic staff (current employees will be able to choose whether to move).

Thank you to all who have put their time and energy into helping us put together the HR Design proposal, particularly my predecessor, Chancellor David Ward, for getting the project started during his tenure. Also thanks to former Chancellor Biddy Martin, along with the thousands of members of our campus community who showed up for forums and information sessions and participated in this process, providing valuable feedback that helped shape the final product. This was a highly collaborative process, possibly the most inclusive this campus has seen. As progress toward implementation continues, updates will be posted at