Montana State University

Meeting Minutes for March 7, 2012

105 Montana Hall

Minutes from Professional Council Meeting, 3/7/12, 10:00 am

Present: Nora Smith, Jeff Littlefield, Betsey Pitts, Carolyn Plumb, Julie Tatarka, Erika Swanson, Jeanne Wilkinson, Adam Edelman, Pat Lane

Others present: Donna Negaard, Dennis Defa

Meeting minutes from 2/8/12 and 2/15/12 were approved.

Chair Wilkinson introduced the new Chief Human Resource Officer, Dennis Defa and provided a narrative about professionals which included numbers of professionals on various MUS campuses, history of PC, why employees are classified as professionals, some of the projects professionals have been and are engaged in, and interactions with campus leaders and BoR.

Mr. Defa spoke of his background and how it led him to MSU. He began working in private sector and moved into higher education, where he has been for thirty (30) years. He also has experience negotiating and working with unions.

Mr. Defa's role in human resources is still in the discovery phase as he collaborates with President Cruzado but some of his visions include:

  • Integrating HR into the academic institution by being a partner;
  • Transitioning the MSU personnel operation, which is transactional and reactive, to a human resource operation which would be pro-active and strategic;
  • Enacting a more seamless operation that negates duplication of steps, the copious paperwork and the numerous steps to expedite a process. The separation of functions is disconcerting and does not emulate any standard practice in the nation. Mr. Defa would like to consolidate functions such as who employees consult regarding benefits, communications with labor entities. He envisions a single recruitment function and a single HR entity for all employees; a one-stop-shop, if you will; and,
  • Creating an entrepreneurial environment where the campus community would collaborate more with HR.

Mr. Defa stated that he is exploring the culture of the MUS and its relationship with the OCHE.

Mr. Defa commented on the classified positions and the defining categories for classified vs. professional positions. He believes classifications were predicated on baselines that have not been revised for some time. He went on to describe his experience at the University of Utah where they designed their own classifications and compensation, based on a comparison of compensable points, accountability, knowledge, skills, all which provided a more accurate employee classification. PC offered help/service/information to Mr. Defa.

As there was no other business, the meeting ended at 11:10 am.

Gale R. Gough
Administrative Associate