November 16, 2023

Staff Excellence: Human Resources — Benefits

At Purdue University, the pursuit of excellence at scale is a collective endeavor that relies heavily on the efforts of its dedicated and talented staff. From supporting faculty in their groundbreaking research to fostering student success to ensuring the seamless operation of the university's many functions, staff members play a pivotal role across campus. 

Purdue Today is recognizing these efforts with a new “Staff Excellence” series, which begins today with a feature on the Human Resources – Benefits team.


Through every season, Purdue University’s Human Resources – Benefits team is dedicated to providing faculty, staff, students, and spouses and dependents with a suite of benefits they can depend on.

For this team of 26 staff members led by Candace Shaffer, excellence isn’t an aspiration — it’s a standard that they achieve year after year and one that plays a key role in Purdue’s ability to achieve excellence at scale.


“Purdue’s commitment to employees’ overall health and wellness is a priority for the university,” Purdue President Mung Chiang says. “As the rest of the country experiences hikes in health care premiums, our benefits team has helped the university flatten costs for employees, students, spouses and dependents for the past five years while also providing high-quality, easily accessible and cost-effective health and wellness options."

Purdue employees have the opportunity to select from a wide variety of benefits options each fall during the university’s open enrollment period. Though this may mark the one time each year some employees think about the open enrollment process or their own benefits package, for Shaffer and her team, it’s a year-round affair. When they aren’t executing open enrollment, they’re gathering data from it, sifting through survey suggestions, meeting with vendors, exploring new options for the coming year, drafting a communication plan and working with university leaders to start the process all over again. 

Each year, the benefits team serves approximately 25,900 faculty and staff members from Purdue West Lafayette, Purdue Fort Wayne, Purdue Northwest and Purdue Global; 12,000 domestic, international and graduate student staff; and their dependents. Through it all, they process more than 4,000 calls and emails to answer questions or concerns about open enrollment, leaves of absence, worker’s compensation, accommodations, retirement and other benefits offered by the university. Shaffer and her team find pride in assisting individuals in the Purdue community, whether they’re 18-year-olds fresh out of high school or retirees well into their 90s.

“At the end of the day, the reward is really just providing those benefits,” says Shaffer, associate vice president of benefits and payroll. “There are lots of things that happen in a lifetime, and the fact that we’re able to provide a suite of benefits that serves the entire population at every stage of life, while also keeping premiums flat, giving back premium money, saving the university costs and also offering competitive benefits, is pretty incredible.”

Shaffer and her team are also the brains behind the Healthy Boiler Wellness Program, a multifaceted approach to overall well-being that provides benefits-eligible employees and spouses covered on a Purdue health plan the opportunity to earn financial incentives through annual physicals, health risk assessments and more.   

The program’s five pillars — behavioral health, financial wellness, physical health, social wellness and work-life integration — form the foundation of employees’ benefits offerings. Each semester, the team works with a variety of units to offer corresponding resources, events and programs, including Healthy Boiler workshops offered through Purdue’s Center for Healthy Living.

Human Resources’ commitment to serving its huge population of individuals in unique ways is reflected in one of Purdue’s most recent accolades. Purdue University was recognized in the 2023 Healthiest Employers of Indiana, an awards program created to honor people-first organizations that prioritize the well-being of their employee population. The award honors Purdue’s commitment to workplace wellness and exceptional health and benefits offerings.

But it also champions the persistence and excellence of Shaffer’s team, whose work pioneering and implementing the university’s host of health and wellness programs, benefits and resources have helped Purdue make a difference in Boilermakers’ approaches to health care and healthy living. 

For more information about Purdue’s benefits offerings, visit the Human Resources — Benefits website.     

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