Western Washington University — Associate Vice President for Human Resources

Academic Career & Executive Search is pleased to assist Western Washington University in their search for Associate Vice President for Human Resources.

For best consideration, please apply by 6/29/2022.

This is a wonderful opportunity for a metrics focused and compassionate HR leader to join Western Washington University in the critical position of Associate Vice President for Human Resources (AVP). The successful candidate will be an accomplished Human Resources senior leader that can proactively lead and support the Human Resources function while inspiring employees to a renewed level of engagement with the overall organizational mission.

The Associate Vice President is a strategic partner and provides leadership and policy direction. The AVP also provides line management oversight for all university human resource management functions including:

  • Staff employee and labor relations
  • Diversity outreach and engagement
  • Organizational and talent development
  • Recruitment and onboarding
  • Employee Benefits including retirement and insurance
  • Human resource information systems and data management
  • Payroll
  • Employee disability accommodations
  • Staff classification and compensation programs

The AVP oversees and ensures compliance with the collective bargaining agreements for classified employees, as well as Professional Staff through the Professional Staff Organization Handbook. The AVP uses a broad and deep knowledge and experience in employee relations, compensation, organizational planning and development, employment law, payroll, human resource information systems, regulatory compliance, and professional development. 

With unwavering integrity and strong change leadership skills, the AVP functions in a constantly evolving setting with an appreciation for and comfort with ambiguity. The AVP demonstrates deep compassion, strong interpersonal skills, the ability to influence at all levels within the university, and a firm moral and ethical foundation, while functioning as an effective change agent.

The AVP is an equity-minded practitioner with strong negotiation and motivation skills, and the wherewithal to manage competing priorities successfully. They are responsible for developing human resource policies, procedures, programs, and services that foster a high-performance culture of engagement and empowerment on behalf of our workforce. The AVP serves as the university’s compliance officer for laws and regulations related to employment, labor, benefits, and privacy of employee records.

The AVP must be able to manage, inspire, and lead a team of dedicated professionals in a people-focused human resources infrastructure. Measuring the quality-of-service human resources provides is of chief importance. The AVP must be able to monitor employee needs, determine how well HR is meeting those needs, identify gaps, and implement effective solutions that leverage technology while streamlining processes. The AVP must have demonstrated experience in creating and maintaining a workplace that supports and respects accessibility, equity, inclusion, and diversity.

Reporting to the Vice President for Business and Financial Affairs, the AVP serves as a member of the Vice President’s senior management team and as the Chief Human Resources Officer for Western Washington University. The division of Business and Financial Affairs supports Western’s mission, which states that together with students, staff, and faculty, WWU is committed to making a positive impact in the state and the world with a shared focus on academic excellence and inclusive achievement.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

University Leadership

  • Provide leadership and strategic vision in serving as a collaborative partner in implementing the university’s human resources services.
  • Serve as a trusted advisor to the President and senior leadership team in matters pertaining to organizational development, employee relations, workforce analysis, and talent management.
  • Maintain collegial and professional relationships with the Office of Financial Management and other higher education human resources leaders.
  • Fulfill leadership and mentoring responsibilities that provide accessible, equitable, and inclusive working environments to all employees, including the staff they supervise and the faculty, staff, and students they serve and work with.
  • Provide leadership and oversight in furthering the university’s efforts to promote access, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Departmental Leadership

  • Lead the human resources functions in service to the university.
  • Develop long- and short-term goals to deliver optimal human resources services to the university community.
  • Manage, inspire, and lead a team of dedicated human resource professionals.
  • Build key performance indicators to measure the effectiveness of on-boarding, employee engagement, retention, access, diversity, equity, and inclusion, ensuring they align with organizational objectives.
  • Ensure professionalism, team building, and collaboration.

University Compliance

  • Develop human resource policies, programs, and services demonstrating the most promising practices, ensuring compliance with applicable laws and utilizing an accessibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion (ADEI) lens. Revise policies and procedures as needed to comply with changes in legislation, directives, and to reflect the university’s strategic goals. Coordinate all new human resources policies with relevant university offices, as well as governance bodies and their subcommittees.
  • Serve as the university’s compliance officer for laws and regulations related to employment, labor, benefits, and privacy of employee records.
  • Demonstrate awareness of the institutional impact of employment practices disputes, claims, and lawsuits as well as knowledge about the means to mitigate these risks.
  • Stay current on proposed and approved legislation, arbitration decisions, professional literature, and collective bargaining contracts that impact human resources services.

Administrative Responsibilities

  • Administer responsibilities in accordance with university objectives, government regulations, and labor contract terms.
  • Serve as chief negotiator or partner in labor negotiations for classified staff labor contracts; provide administration of such contracts.
  • Oversee resolution of non-discrimination-related personnel complaints. Meet regularly and develop collaborative relationships with Human Resources unit leaders and other university offices and groups to maintain strong human resources services and collegial partnerships.
  • Oversee communication on human resources issues for the university and communicate personally when needed and appropriate.
  • Operate as data owner of all employee-related data and records.
  • Oversee the department budget of approximately $2 million.
  • Perform other duties as assigned.

Core Attitudes and Values

  • Unwavering integrity and a firm ethical foundation.
  • An appreciation for and comfort with ambiguity.
  • Deep compassion and strong interpersonal skills.
  • Equity-minded human resources practitioner.
  • Genuine commitment to open communication, collaboration, and service excellence.

Core Skills and Abilities

  • Strong change leadership skills and the capacity to function as an effective change agent.
  • Ability to influence at all levels within the university.
  • Strong motivational skills.
  • Strong negotiation skills.
  • Well-versed in optimizing internal processes.
  • Skilled in deploying technology to enhance the end user experience.
  • Ability to foster a workplace that supports and respects accessibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The AVP will share workforce trends including but not limited to:

  • succession needs and labor-market forces
  • labor law and regulatory changes
  • technological changes
  • employee advocacy
  • leadership readiness
  • compensation and performance-based pay
  • training and individual professional development
  • promotions
  • turnover, staffing, and other human resource metrics

It is imperative the AVP serve as a trusted advisor to the President and senior leadership in matters pertaining to organizational development, employee relations and satisfaction, workforce analysis, and talent management. They will need to build key performance indicators including on-boarding, employee engagement, retention, accessibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion to align human resources and enterprise objectives.

Opportunities and Expectations for Leadership

Recognizing the challenges facing our society, the university has developed an ambitious strategic plan (Strategic Plan 2018-2025) to advance inclusive student success, increase impact in Washington state and beyond, and enhance academic excellence. To that end, the AVP will bring innovative solutions to the following areas of opportunity:

Lead efforts to advance the recruitment and retention of a diverse, talented workforce
The AVP will model and promote a culture where accessibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion are embedded in university life and operations. They will help Western adapt to the changing trends in higher education and actively address evolving workforce needs. The AVP must be an exceptional developer of talent, motivated by facilitating the success and flourishing of others. The AVP is responsible for instilling a value proposition that attracts talent and adjusts to the labor market to sustain value.

Strengthen excellence and innovation in human resources services
A leader and a partner
Candidates will need to exhibit significant experience leading in a complex, people-focused human resources organization. The AVP must be a highly collaborative partner in implementing the university’s strategic priorities. They should be astute and skilled, with a genuine ability to gain the respect of organizational stakeholders. The AVP should have a successful record of working with a diverse, unionized workforce and the capacity to work with all the bargaining units in negotiation/mediation. They should have a demonstrated track-record of substantive engagement with accessibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

Change leadership for a modern workforce
The AVP will foster an environment of strategic thinking around employee engagement and satisfaction, organizational transformation, talent acquisition and development, and workforce strategy for the 21st century and through times of accelerating change. The AVP should be a leader who is undaunted by the ambiguity inherent in changing times, and someone energized by the opportunity to envision and implement creative solutions.

Strong commitment to rigorous data analysis
While the AVP is expected to have a high level of emotional intelligence and consideration for circumstances requiring creative solutions, the AVP must also consider relevant data analysis in the human resource decision making process. They will be a results-driven leader who can assess current systems, resources, practices, and processes, and develop a vision for a modern and forward-looking human resources function in a higher education environment.

Required Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree and five years of years of progressively responsible senior level experience in human resources, or equivalent.
  • Proven record of leadership and collaborative skills in inspiring, leading, supervising, and developing a team of effective human resources professionals.
  • Confirmed strategic leadership proficiency in developing caring, people-centric human resources policies, procedures, services, and programs while maintaining and strengthening relationships with a wide range of internal and external constituencies.
  • Demonstrated ability to affect transformative organizational change while elevating employee morale.
  • Documented record of cultivating an equitable workplace that is inclusive of faculty, staff, students, and internal and external stakeholders, with advocacy on behalf of those holding diverse cultural backgrounds and social identities.
  • Comprehensive knowledge of and experience in core human resources functions, i.e., human resource planning; payroll and Human Resources Information System (HRIS); compensation and benefits; recruitment and selection; employee and labor relations, performance management; health and safety; and, learning and development.
  • Demonstrated awareness of the institutional impact of employment practices disputes, claims, and lawsuits, as well as knowledge of how to mitigate such risks.
  • Clear evidence of the ability to negotiate and mediate complex human resources challenges, while ensuring compliance with applicable regulations and relevant collective bargaining agreement(s).
  • Experience working with a unionized workforce.
  • Effective communication skills, both written and oral.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Master’s in Human Resources Management or other graduate degree
  • Specialized professional human resources certification such as Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI), Certified Labor Relations Professional (CLRP), or Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM)
  • Experience in governmental civil service systems
  • Senior human resource management experience in public higher education

Conditions of Employment:

All employees must comply with the University’s Immunization policies, including COVID vaccination by time of hire and Proof of Rubeola Measles Immunity within 60-days of hire. Please reach out to HR@wwu.edu if you need information regarding medical or religious exemption and applicable accommodations.

About the Institution

Western Washington University has over 16,000 students in seven academic colleges, plus an Honors College and a graduate school. We are nationally recognized for the quality of our academic programs and because of our emphasis on social mobility, research, and public service. The primary campus is in Bellingham, Washington, a coastal community of 91,000. The city is 90 miles north of Seattle and 60 miles south of Vancouver, British Columbia. Bellingham is situated on the ancestral homelands of the Coast Salish Peoples, who have lived in the Salish Sea basin, throughout the San Juan Islands and the North Cascades watershed, from time immemorial.

Living in the Area

With a population of 90,000, Bellingham is a welcoming and safe community offering the advantages of a larger city and the charm of a coastal town. Western students call Bellingham an adventure, a breath of fresh air, and a great place to call home. A vibrant downtown, thriving arts and music scenes, and an easy drive to Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. all make Bellingham an ideal college town. There’s a lot to do in Bellingham all year round, but town comes alive during the summer for Downtown Sounds. These weekly summer block parties feature concerts and a laid-back festival atmosphere. It’s the perfect place to dance, snack, and hang out with friends.

Ranked #1 in Sunset magazine’s top ten Farmers’ Markets in the West, this colorful, aromatic, music-filled festival is a beloved destination for students and lifelong residents alike. Take a Saturday morning walk to the Depot Market Square in downtown Bellingham for fresh produce, local food, live music and crafts, from screen-printed hoodies to pottery. 

Whether you’re a bike rider, bus rider, or a pedestrian, Bellingham offers an outdoor lovers paradise. From epic snow days at Mount Baker to beautiful sunsets on the beach, Bellingham is an adventurer’s dream town. Western was recently ranked third out of the ten best colleges for people who love the great outdoors by MONEY Magazine.

Benefits Information: 2022 Benefits Overview for Administrative Professional Position

To Apply

For best consideration, please apply by 6/29/22. 

To be viewed by the search firm, you must apply directly at: https://acesrch.applicantstack.com/x/detail/a21esjyj8n4d 

Please do not email applications. 

Applications will be reviewed as they are received and should include a CV and cover letter.

Western’s strategic plan places Access, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ADEI) as a core value and a core goal of the institution. Candidates advanced to initial video interviews will be required to provide a diversity statement addressing what role the AVP has in advancing ADEI as well as sharing an example of how your work has advanced ADEI at a previous institution or workplace.

All applications are treated confidentially.

Inquiries, referrals, and nominations are treated confidentially:

Inquiries and questions: Please send to wwuavphr@acesrch.com 

Nominations and referrals: Please send to nominations@acesrch.com 

Western Washington University (WWU) is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer committed to assembling a diverse, broadly trained faculty and staff. Women, minorities, people with disabilities and veterans are strongly encouraged to apply. In compliance with applicable laws and in furtherance of its commitment to fostering an environment that welcomes and embraces diversity, WWU does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex (including pregnancy and parenting status), disability, age, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status or genetic information in its programs or activities, including employment, admissions, and educational programs. See WWU’s Policy on Ensuring Equal Opportunity and Prohibiting Discrimination and Retaliation. Inquiries may be directed to the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX Compliance, Title IX and ADA Coordinator, Western Washington University, Old Main 345 (MS 9021), 516 High Street, Bellingham, WA 98225; 360.650.3307 (voice) or 711 (Washington Relay); crtc@wwu.edu 

WWU is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities upon request. To request this document in an alternate format or to request an accommodation, please contact Human Resources Disability Services, 360.650.3774 or 711 (Washington Relay). 

Please also see WWU’s Annual Security and Fire Safety Report which is provided pursuant to the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security and Campus Crime Statistics Act. 

All new employees must comply with the immunization policy and show employment eligibility verification as required by the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service before beginning work at WWU. A thorough background check, including a sexual misconduct background check, will be conducted on all new hires and rehires.