Purdue Profiles: Pam Nesbitt

January 13, 2015  

Pam Nesbitt

Pam Nesbitt, director of academic units and employee communication in Human Resources. (Purdue University photo/Charles Jischke)
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For the past 38 years, Pam Nesbitt has dedicated herself to extending understanding and empathy to Purdue's employees while guiding them through various situations related to employee relations issues, staff hiring, training, compensation and more.

Nesbitt is director of academic units and employee communication in Human Resources. As such, she has spent the past five years building vital relationships between Human Resources and the Office of the Provost and the University's academic units.

How did you transition into this position?

Five years ago, when Luis Lewin, former vice president for human resources, started at Purdue, he met with deans and academic department heads to find out how to improve their experiences with Human Resources. He realized that Human Resources lacked a strong relationship with the Office of the Provost and the other academic units, so he decided to create this position.

At the time, I was director of human resources in Physical Facilities, but I'd had experience in almost every area of human resources work at Purdue, so the job was a great fit. Since then, I've worked very closely with several vice provosts in addition to Purdue's provost, deans and department heads

What is one of your ongoing projects?

I'm very proud of the work happening in the Office of Faculty Recruitment and Retention, which was created in April.

The office supports Purdue’s commitment to recruiting and retaining talented, innovative and diverse faculty.  The office works with the partners of faculty members to increase their opportunities for success in their search for local employment and in their transition to the General Lafayette area.  

About half of the faculty partners we work with are seeking staff positions. We help them determine whether their skills are a good fit for a position at Purdue, and we also reach out to employers in the Greater Lafayette and Indianapolis areas.

We're not always successful in helping to place faculty partners, but many times we are. It's very rewarding because we know it helps take stress off our new faculty members.

What are some of the Office of Faculty Recruitment and Retention's additional tasks?

We also do a lot of work that involves faculty retention. It's important to us to keep our faculty talent here on campus, as opposed to faculty members finding and taking jobs elsewhere.

Another big aspect the office tackles involves helping new faculty members and their partners feel connected to our community. We work with Purdue's Welcome Center as well as the Lafayette-West Lafayette Visitors Center, and we connect them with various local social groups such as Tippy Connect.

The office recently served its 100th client, so we know that all these services were needed.

What's another project with which you've been involved?

I recently worked with two distinguished Purdue faculty members to conduct an engagement survey for Purdue's non-faculty staff members. We plan to share the results of the survey soon  -- based on that information, we have put together a pilot program that involves training for supervisors.

Once we've tweaked that pilot, if it's effective, we plan to offer it to supervisors across campus. Further, this spring we're going to conduct another employee survey. The result of all these efforts, I hope, will be an even better workplace environment and an employee population that feels valued.

How has having an HR director of academic units and employee communication helped employees?

On the academic side, I hope that because of the relationship we've built with them, deans and department heads feel like they have more input and knowledge about Human Resources decisions.

On the communication side, I take a lot of pride in the fact that we efficiently communicate complex news and information to our large campus. The Human Resources website, for example, has an incredible amount of information on it.

We also recently created an Office of Faculty Recruitment and Retention website. I'd say that 85-90 percent of questions that incoming employees have about Purdue are answered on this site.

What about human resources work is appealing to you?

I like being able to explain to employees what we do and how we can help them achieve their professional goals.

In human resources, you have to use your head but work from your heart. We have many guidelines, regulations and laws by which we must abide, but this work is about more than that. It's about having compassion, understanding and empathy for employees. 

Writer: Amanda Hamon Kunz, 49-61325, ahamon@purdue.edu 

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