Update on Administrative Initiatives
Work proceeding on McKinsey recommendations
Since a 2006 assessment of Dartmouth’s administrative services, conducted by the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, the College has implemented a number of changes to enhance communications and establish procedures that better support institutional priorities. Following the McKinsey report, President James Wright established four Administrative Working Groups—Annual Planning and Budget, Administrative Communications and Culture, Professional Development and Training, and Hiring and Retention—to address those areas identified for review in the report. Some of the key developments that have occurred in response to the working groups’ recommendations are outlined below.
Administrative Communications and Culture
Recommendations included the development of a new mission statement for the College and improved internal communications. Developments include:
- A revised mission statement was announced in May 2007, following an extensive period of community feedback: “Dartmouth College educates the most promising students and prepares them for a lifetime of learning and of responsible leadership, through a faculty dedicated to teaching and the creation of knowledge.” The statement is augmented by the Dartmouth legacy and a set of core values. President Wright says, “We now need to work to advance this mission and to rededicate ourselves to meet its very high aspirations and to protect our core values and legacy.”
- A new communications mechanism, Dartmouth Daily Updates, was launched in February. The e-mail and Web-based system is sent to all Dartmouth employees and students daily, with the goal of consolidating news and improving communication efficiency.
- President’s Administrative Forum (PAF) meetings have been reorganized to allow for more active participation by members, increased dialogue, and smoother flow of information.
Professional Development and Training
The group recommended taking better advantage of internal and external resources, aligning training with institutional priorities, sharpening the focus on diversity issues, and increasing responsiveness to the needs of employees. Results to date include:
- Increased participation in and better use of performance reviews: Dartmouth achieved a record near-80 percent participation rate in the performance evaluation process in 2007, and continues to focus on achieving 100 percent participation. “Employees and their managers already appear to be reaping the benefits of a continuous process,” says Traci Nordberg, chief human resources officer. “Setting goals together, discussing progress, and supporting career development are important investments in our employees. As a result, we are all more engaged in our work to support the mission of the College.”
- Enhanced professional development programs: The “Management Essentials at Dartmouth” (MEAD) curriculum offers managers training in the basics of supervision and management within a mixed learning (online, self-study, and classroom) format. “How to Advance your Career at Dartmouth College” provides staff with tools to grow their careers at the College. Employees can learn about these programs and more at the Office of Human Resources.
- Enhanced diversity training: Institutional Diversity & Equity (IDE) has sponsored new programs including “Beyond 101: Diversity Next Steps,” and a “Managers Series.” “We have intentionally expanded our offerings beyond awareness trainings to programs that focus on creating welcoming, respectful, and inclusive work environments,” says Holly Sateia, interim vice president for Institutional Diversity & Equity. “Departments are invited to work with IDE to develop their own custom-tailored programs and workshops.”
- Restructured new employee orientation program: Orientation now includes more material to acquaint employees with the community, the College’s structure, and provides opportunities for people to get connected within the workplace and beyond.
Annual Planning and Budget
Recommendations of the Annual Planning and Budget Working Group included more communication and a clearer connection between the budgeting process and institutional goals and priorities. “These efforts are intended to increase transparency by expanding knowledge about College financial issues across campus, and increasing the opportunity for feedback on the decisions about priorities that translate into the operating and capital budgets,” says Adam Keller, executive vice president for finance and administration. Some of the new processes put in place include:
- Increased engagement with the College Budget and Finance Committee: The leaders of the seven major organizational areas in the College (excluding the professional schools), as well as leaders of the capital and operating budget processes, meet regularly to discuss current-year results, budget issues for the subsequent year, and projections.
- Involvement of divisions and programmatic areas in the College in long-range strategic planning: A number of divisions have engaged in more formal strategic planning efforts. The results of these efforts and their near-term financial implications are shared at the College Budget and Finance Committee meetings.
- Meetings with the Faculty Committee on Priorities: Keller and Provost Barry Scherr meet regularly with this group to share budget projections and get input on issues that are priorities for faculty.
- Presentations to the President’s Administrative Forum (PAF): Information about the state of College finances and about major new initiatives are regularly shared at PAF meetings.
Hiring and Retention
Recommendations included improvements to the search and recruitment process, procedures for handling employee concerns and grievances, and finding ways to increase institutional diversity. Changes implemented include:
- The establishment of a College Ombuds Office: Mary Childers was appointed College ombudsperson in February 2007. Her office is a neutral, confidential resource for non-faculty employees to receive assistance with workplace concerns. “Many people have expressed gratitude that the College has made this kind of service available,” says Childers, who reports that the Ombuds Office has assisted approximately 150 employees.
- Increased assistance with recruitment: Human Resources now has a professional recruiting team that provides consultation to hiring officers, develops recruitment plans, and promotes the identity of Dartmouth as an “Employer of Choice.” Recruiters are also able to network strong candidates to other searches, taking advantage of existing connections.
- Dual-career network: A new service available to the spouses/partners of final candidates and recently relocated dual-career couples seeking employment. Clients receive career advice, résumé review, and networking support.
- More diverse applicant pools: A recruiting professional in Human Resources focuses on developing networks to grow applicant pools and recruit candidates from underutilized groups. The Office of Institutional Diversity & Equity continues to collaborate with Human Resources on recruitment and to serve as a resource for all hiring managers.
- New handbook for hiring managers: The guide offers ideas for attracting a diverse candidate pool, marketing the position, interviewing, and more.
- An updated “Campus and Community Resource Guide” (PDF, 224kb): Institutional Diversity & Equity has updated the guide, which connects prospective employees and new hires with current employees available to answer questions about Dartmouth and the Upper.
- Streamlined hiring process: Searches for which a committee would previously have been required are now more flexible. Administrative departments can choose how to use search committees and interview panels to best suit their hiring needs. Administration for all staff searches is also now consolidated within Human Resources. The Office of Institutional Diversity & Equity continues to collaborate with academic deans on faculty searches, and provides assistance with all searches as needed.
- Expanded parental and bereavement leave policies: Dartmouth’s new plan allows two weeks of paid parental leave to all parents (in addition to the six weeks of medical leave routinely provided to birth mothers). The parental leave may be taken at any point during the first year of becoming a parent. Dartmouth has also increased the number of paid bereavement days from three to five. The days can be taken in the event of a death of an immediate family member.
The review of administrative services and the development of new programs and policies is an ongoing process. A survey of staff members will be conducted during spring term, to help assess progress since the last survey in 2006 and identify areas for continued improvement. Nariah Broadus, assistant to the president, emphasizes the significance of employee input: “There are many opportunities at Dartmouth for people to weigh in—including through their supervisors or department heads, surveys, and meetings—and I hope they take advantage of that. Every opinion is considered, and two-way communication is vital to the process.”
By SARAH MEMMI