Two of the Wexner Medical Center’s top positions are currently vacant. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor

Ohio State is developing a plan to attract and retain top talent.

Susan Basso, the university’s vice president of human resources, presented her three-part plan to the Board of Trustees’ Talent and Compensation Committee at its meeting Thursday.

The plan was comprised of HR excellence, total rewards packages and talent management, though the majority of the meeting focused on retaining top university employees.

The plan has added significance as Ohio State searches for several top positions within the Wexner Medical Center, including a new chancellor and director for the James Cancer Hospital.

In November, Dr. Michael Caligiuri left the James to take a leadership role at a cancer center in California. Dr. Ali Rezai, the former director of the medical center’s Neurological Institute, left the university in September for a similar position at West Virginia University.

The university also is seeking a new senior vice president of business and finance and chief financial officer, as well as a senior vice president of research.

Former Senior Vice President of Business and Finance and CFO Geoff Chatas, best known for heading the university’s privatization efforts with CampusParc and Engie-Axium, will end his seven-year employment at Ohio State Thursday.

Committees have been formed and searches are underway for various open positions.

“The whole notion of really attracting, retaining and engaging a dynamic and diverse workforce is our overarching goal here,” Basso said. “We are really interested in looking at what is our brand as an employer. I think often academic institutions have a tremendous academic brand, but who we are as an employer is sometimes different.”

Basso spoke about the importance of not only attracting talent, but also maintaining it once people arrive. She said there are currently no retainment strategies in place.

“Oftentimes, especially in higher ed, we are very reactionary,” she said.

Board member and committee chairman W.G. Jerry Jurgensen was complimentary of the initial plan, but said it needs to go more in-depth into how the university will implement the strategies.

“This does a great job of describing the ‘what,’ but not the ‘how,’” he said to Basso. “To really build a high degree of confidence that you can in fact execute what you laid out, in subsequent meetings you’re going to need to delve into how you’re going to do this.”

The committee also discussed Ohio State’s somewhat-inconsistent process of performance reviews. Basso said some units have different ways of conducting the process for staff, something she would like to streamline over time.

“Performance management and creating a culture of accountability is fundamental to everything else we are trying to achieve,” she said.

Jurgensen said compared to the business world, higher education can be difficult because academia does not have a single metric to use to measure success, such as a profit-loss statement companies can use to grade employees.

“Unfortunately in higher-ed it doesn’t work that neatly,” he said. “I think the key [is to] find things that you can indeed measure. Because if you can’t count it, you can’t manage it.”