As students return to campus, many have noticed a number of changes and new landmarks on campus.
Among those, the move of the Human Resource offices to the first floor of Decker has been one of the most significant. The name of the office has additionally been changed to the Office of Work-Life Engagement, to fit within a larger vision that university leadership have been working on.
Changes within HR have been led by Tim States, who began his new position as director over the summer. He says that the office is shifting its focus from only compliance and payroll to shaping employee experience and workplace culture, reflecting a shift in the discipline of human resources to fulfill a larger purpose in the organization.
“We see our objective as integrating work, life and the mission of AU,” States says. “Moving the office and changing the name to Work-Life Engagement are two pieces of a larger strategy of making AU an outstanding place to work.”
Formerly with ITS, States spent 20 years working outside of the university before joining the staff, which he says brought him to appreciate the importance of personal empowerment and purpose in an institution.
“Being an outstanding place to work means being a people-centered place to work,” he says. “Our hope as a department is to continue building on what has already begun in that direction.”
Dr. Marie Morris, university provost, has been at the head of developing the map for the recent campus transformations.
“Our strategic plan has four main themes,” explains Morris, “Outstanding student experience, forward thinking, fiscal strength and an outstanding place to work.”
The university has brought on new staff members, including development officers Brian Martin and Linda Imel and Executive Director of Advancement Services Amy Reed as part of this greater institutional plan.
“Hiring new people opens up opportunities to have those who bring a fresh perspective or ‘new eyes,’” she says. Morris hopes that these “small, but noticeable” changes enrich the university experience for both students and employees.
More of the minor changes on campus have been part of beautification and making improvements to classrooms. Larger, overgrown shrubs have been removed to enhance safety and security on University Boulevard, and furniture from the Flagship Center has been moved into classrooms.
“It helps with institutional pride to have our campus look good,” says Morris. “Even the smallest of improvements can make a difference.”
Rice Hall has also found new life as its lobby has been repurposed into a rehearsal space for productions in the School of Music, Theatre and Dance.
Some improvements are still in the making, however, such as the coming website redesign and the prayer labyrinth.
The Centennial Prayer Labyrinth is currently under construction by the International Plaza beside York Performance Hall and will be dedicated at Homecoming. Campus Pastor Tamara Shelton says that the site will serve as a physical gathering place to pray and worship together.
“This institution began with Noah and Enoch Byrum praying over this valley 100 years ago as they sought to relocate the Church of God Publishing House,” says Morris. “Little did they know what would come of those prayers.”