President Huddleston Attends OS Council Meeting

President Huddleston Attends OS Council Meeting

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

President Mark Huddleston attended the monthly meeting of the OS Council to answer questions chosen by the representatives to help them better inform their constituents.

Two questions concerned UNH’s financial position, beginning with the $38 million cut in state funding, with councilors asking what steps UNH employees could take to help get the funding restored. Huddleston suggested people write their elected officials as New Hampshire citizens, saying that would have the most direct effect.

“Do it as individuals, not as a group; ask friends and parents to do it, too. It is in the interest of everyone in the state to have a quality higher education system,” Huddleston said.

In discussing how to get the university to a positive budget position, Huddleston said, “You don’t get out of a crisis simply by cutting the budget. The solution is to grow.”

He also noted various budget models exist including one factoring in not getting the state appropriation restored. If the Legislature does return to previous allocations—which would still have UNH receiving the lowest level of aid to higher education in the country—Huddleston said it would go to making UNH more affordable to students.

Regarding the hiring freeze that was implemented in 2011, Huddleston said it has been lifted. HR’s Sari Bennett clarified that some positions are still being filled by internal candidates only.

Responding to a question about performance pay, Huddleston said UNH doesn’t yet have all the elements in place for such a method but that pilot programs are being tested. Bennett said pilots, based on coaching models, are taking place at the Whittemore School of Business and at Cooperative Extension. Kathy Neils, new assistant vice president for Human Resources, said that  performance assessments are done differently.

“Performance is about a two way dialogue between manager and employee,” Neils said. 

A question related to workplace bullying led Huddleston to say, “Anyone who thinks they have experienced or witnessed bullying ought to report it to (director of affirmative action and equity) Donna Marie Sorrentino and/or your Human Resource partner.”

To the question of whether bullying is widespread on campus and therefore warrants forming a task force, Neils said, “We shouldn’t be waiting for a task force if there’s a problem, it should be reported so we can address the situation/concern.

In other news, Amy Schwartz, director of health care cost containment, discussed Tandem Care’s Health Advantage program that provides cash rewards to employees who shop around for health care services. Schwartz noted the program had paid for itself in the first six months of use.  

“A lot of people worry that lower cost means lower quality and there is no correlation,” she said.