Jobs at Western

Associate Vice President for Human Resources

Work type: Permanent Full Time
Location: Bellingham, WA
Categories: Business and Financial Affairs

Position Title Associate Vice President for Human Resources
About the University

Western Washington University enrolls over 15,000 students in more than 160 academic programs at the Bellingham campus and seven satellite locations around the Puget Sound area. The main campus is located in Bellingham, Washington, a coastal community of over 90,000 overlooking Bellingham Bay, the San Juan Islands, and the North Cascades Mountain range. The city lies 90 miles north of Seattle and 60 miles south of Vancouver, British Columbia. Western, which first opened its doors in 1899, is perennially ranked as the best public, master’s granting university in the Pacific Northwest and No. 2 in the West, according to U.S. News & World Report college rankings. Kiplinger’s ranks Western among the top 100 public colleges and universities in the nation that offer the best quality and affordability. U.S. News and World Report has named Western one of the most cost-efficient in the country among highly-ranked universities and for several years in a row The Chronicle of Higher Education has recognized Western as a “Great Place to Work”.

Western’s main campus is located on the ancestral homelands of the Lummi Nation and the Nooksack Tribe, Indigenous Peoples who have lived in the Salish Sea basin and the North Cascades Watershed from time immemorial. Western acknowledges historical injustices, seeks respectful relationships with its indigenous neighbors, and expresses gratitude for their ongoing stewardship of our shared lands and waterways.

Western is particularly proud of its position as a leader in multidisciplinary environmental education and sustainable campus operations. Western provides an active student-centered learning environment with a liberal arts and sciences foundation and robust co-curricular, internship, research, creative, and service learning opportunities. There is a widely shared vision that Western will be a higher education leader in a culturally responsive 21st century learning environment, applying its critical strengths to societal issues as well as creating welcoming community for a diversity of people, ideas, and programs. To that end, Western has embraced a style that is collegial, transparent, and timely in its engagement and communication with on- and off-campus stakeholders.

Western’s mission, as expressed in its Strategic Plan, states that together with our students, staff, and faculty, we are committed to making a positive impact in the state and world with a shared focus on academic excellence and inclusive achievement. Western’s commitment to and work on Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity can be found on the Western President’s page on Advancing Inclusion and Diversity. We encourage applications from women, people of color, people with disabilities, veterans, and other candidates from underrepresented backgrounds and with diverse experiences interested in this opportunity.

About the Division

About the Division of Business and Financial Affairs

The Division of Business and Financial Affairs (BFA) provides the range of human, fiscal, and capital services critical to the successful advancement of the University’s mission and strategic directions.  (

The Division’s responsibilities include:

  • Ensuring the financial integrity of the University
  • Overseeing the University-wide budget planning process
  • Acquiring maximum levels of state capital appropriations to address institutional needs, including engaging in long-range planning and developing the WWU Institutional Master Plan
  • Ensuring occupational and environmental health and safety for faculty, staff, students and guests, including provision of emergency management services
  • Providing public safety to faculty, staff, students and visitors, and safeguards University property and assets, ensuring a safe and secure educational environment
  • Giving full accountability to the public on the utilization of public resources
  • Exercising professional and sustainable stewardship of the University’s physical infrastructure
  • Providing oversight of human resource services and providing leadership ensuring all employees have a work environment that supports equity, inclusion, and diversity
  • Promoting positive interactions with community agencies and organizations
  • Ensuring coordination with local, State and Federal agencies and regulatory compliance

The BFA Division has an annual budget of approximately $23 million and consists of more than 330 permanent employees working in seven units:

Office of Associate Vice President for Business and Financial Affairs provides oversight for Business Services, Financial Services, Business and Financial Systems, Risk Management, Student Business Office, University Compliance, and other business auxiliaries. The Office also provides oversight of the University’s financial internal controls and Enterprise Risk Management, and provides advice on financial strategy and policy.

Budget and Financial Planning has primary responsibility for the planning, development, implementation, administration, and oversight of the University’s operating budget. Central elements of these functions include the preparation and submission of the institution’s biennial operating budget request to the state legislature, preparation of annual allocation plans, and ensuring that financial resource decisions are in concert with Western’s strategic priorities.

Capital Planning and Development supports the University’s mission through planning, development, budgeting and coordination of University-level capital budget policies and procedures, individual project proposals, the biennial capital request and 10-year Capital Plan, management of major and minor capital construction projects, and allocation and related administrative processes. The work of the unit also encompasses long-range planning and development of the WWU Institutional Master Plan.

Environmental Health and Safety provides oversight of occupational health and environmental management for the University, including chemical, biological, radioactive materials waste management and incident response and management of environmental health and safety programs.

Facilities Management leads the planning, development, maintenance and operation of Western's facilities and grounds, including auxiliary departments. The work of the unit also encompasses management of Western's utilities and energy and building control systems, management of minor construction projects including in-house renovations, and vehicle maintenance.

Human Resources Department is focused on advancing systemic approaches to attracting, retaining and developing a diverse workforce, and works collaboratively with the Office for Civil Rights and Title IX Compliance to support equitable and fair treatment for all employees. Human Resources services include diversity outreach and recruitment, classified staff labor relations, professional staff employee relations, classification and compensation management, payroll, human resources information systems, retirement and insurance, employee engagement, and organizational and professional development.

Department of Public Safety provides law enforcement, traffic control, event security, crime prevention programs, leadership for emergency planning and training programs, and other safety programs for the University community 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week.

Strategic Planning and Implementation is a focus in the Division; the Strategic Planning and Implementation Director leads and directs BFA division strategic planning to ensure the plan supports the University’s strategic plan, oversees and supports the planning and implementation of divisional initiatives and projects, and leads the divisional communications, change management and performance metrics efforts.

About the Position The Associate Vice President for Human Resources serves as the Chief Human Resources Officer for Western Washington University and reports to the Vice President for Business and Financial Affairs. The successful candidate is expected to be a strategic partner and provide leadership and policy direction. The Associate Vice President (AVP) will also provide line management oversight for all University human resource management functions, including staff employee and labor relations, diversity outreach and engagement, organizational and talent development, recruitment and onboarding, retirement and insurance, human resource information systems and data management, payroll, employee disability accommodations, and staff classification and compensation programs. The AVP oversees and ensures compliance with the collective bargaining agreements for classified employees as well as the Professional Staff Handbook. The AVP serves as a member of the Vice President’s senior management team.

The AVP must possess a broad and deep knowledge and experience in employee relations, compensation, organizational planning and development, employment law, payroll, human resource information systems, regulatory compliance, and professional development. In addition, the AVP must be able to manage, inspire, and lead a team of dedicated professionals in a customer service oriented human resources infrastructure and have demonstrated experience in creating and maintaining a workplace that supports and respects accessibility, equity, inclusion, and diversity.

With unquestioned integrity coupled with strong management skills, the AVP is expected to function in a constantly evolving setting with an appreciation for and comfort with ambiguity. The AVP must have strong interpersonal skills, the ability to influence at all levels within the University, and the ability to function as an effective change agent. The AVP must make sound and independent decisions, have strong negotiation and motivation skills, meet timelines, and manage competing priorities successfully.

Essential Functions

  • Provide leadership and strategic vision in serving as a collaborative partner in implementing the University’s human resources services.
  • Serve as a trusted advisor to the president and senior leadership team in matters pertaining to organizational development, employee relations, workforce analysis, and talent management.
  • Fulfill leadership and mentoring responsibilities that provide accessible, equitable, and inclusive working environments to all employees, including the staff they supervise and the faculty, staff, and students they serve and work with.
  • Provide leadership and oversight in furthering the University’s efforts to promote access, diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Supervise the Associate Director of Human Resources, the Assistant Director: Benefits and Operations, the Assistant Director: Organizational and Talent Development, the Sr. Analytics Manager, and the Administrative Assistant to the AVP.
  • Demonstrate integrity, ethical behavior, and business acumen.
  • Serve as the University’s compliance officer for laws and regulations related to employment and benefits, employee use and abuse of alcohol or illicit drugs, and privacy of employee records.
  • Promote and implement the best and most promising practices toward creating a culture of care for all employees.
  • Serve as a resource in the development of staff engagement programs.
  • Oversee the employee background screening program.
  • Develop, implement, and administer all human resources policies and procedures that demonstrate the most promising practices, ensuring compliance with applicable laws and utilizing an accessibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion (ADEI) lens. Revise policies and procedures as needed to comply with changes in legislation, directives, and to reflect the University’s strategic goals. Coordinate all new human resources policies with relevant University offices, as well as governance bodies and their subcommittees.
  • Demonstrate awareness of the institutional impact of employment practices disputes, claims, and lawsuits as well as knowledge about the means to mitigate these risks.
  • Develop long- and short-term goals for achieving optimal human resources services to the University community.
  • Build key performance indicators including on-boarding, employee engagement, retention, access, diversity, equity, and inclusion in order to align human resources and organizational objectives.
  • Stay current on proposed and approved legislation, arbitration decisions, professional literature, and collective bargaining contracts that impact human resources services.
  • Administer responsibilities in accordance with University objectives, government regulations, and labor contract terms.
  • Serve as chief negotiator or partner in labor negotiations for classified staff labor contracts; provide administration of such contracts.
  • Oversee resolution of non-discrimination-related personnel complaints. Meet regularly and develop collaborative relationships with Human Resources unit leaders and other University offices and groups to maintain strong human resources services and collegial partnerships.
  • Empower staff in carrying out duties pertaining to human resources goals and objectives, providing them with appropriate professional development opportunities.
  • Ensure professionalism, team building, and collaboration.
  • Direct and assist with special projects, such as the “Great Colleges to Work For” program, metrics programs, efficiency initiatives, compensation studies, and employee surveys.
  • Oversee communication on human resources issues for the University and communicate personally when needed and appropriate.
  • Operate as data owner of all employee-related data and records.
  • Oversee the department budget of approximately $2 million.
  • Advise University administrators on organizational issues and sensitive human resources matters. Maintain collegial and professional relationships with the Office of Financial Management and other higher education human resources leaders.
  • Perform other duties as assigned.
Required Qualifications
  • Bachelor’s degree and 10 years of progressively responsible human resources experience, including senior level administration experience in human resources
  • Demonstrated strategic leadership experience in developing and implementing human resources policies, procedures, services, and programs, including using an accessibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion lens, as well as ensuring compliance with applicable laws/regulations
  • Demonstrated experience and the ability to cultivate a working environment that is equitable and inclusive of faculty, staff, students, and internal and external stakeholders, and sensitive to those with diverse cultural backgrounds and social identities, both within the Human Resources unit and in the university as a whole
  • Strong demonstrated knowledge of and experience in human resources functions, e.g., payroll and benefits; classification/compensation; retirement and insurance; recruitment outreach and talent development.
  • Demonstrated ability to collaborate, negotiate, and mediate complex human resources issues, while maintaining and strengthening relationships with a wide range of internal and external constituencies.
  • Experience working with a unionized workforce.
  • Demonstrated strong leadership and collaborative skills in supervising, developing, leading, and inspiring a team of experienced human resources professionals.
  • Excellent interpersonal and organizational skills with demonstrated ability to balance competing priorities and work successfully in a dynamic, fast-paced, multi-tasking, and complex organization.
  • Effective communication skills, both written and oral.

All employees must comply with our Immunization policies, including COVID vaccination by time of hire and Proof of Rubeola Measles Immunity within 60-days of hire. Please reach out to if you need information regarding medical or religious exemption and applicable accommodations.

Preferred Qualifications
  • Graduate degree
  • Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) certification
  • Certified Labor Relations Professional (CLRP) certification
  • Experience in governmental civil service systems
  • Senior human resource management experience in public higher education union setting
  • Certified mediator
Application Instructions

Greenwood/Asher & Associates, LLC is assisting Western Washington University in this search. Applications and nominations are now being accepted. For best consideration, please submit applications materials by August 30, 2021. Confidential inquiries, nominations, and application materials should be directed to Greenwood/Asher & Associates, LLC. Submission of application materials as PDF attachments is strongly encouraged. The search will be conducted with a commitment of confidentiality for candidates until finalists are selected. Initial screening of applications will begin immediately and will continue until an appointment is made. Application materials should include the following:

  • Letter of interest that addresses how the candidate’s experiences, skills and abilities fulfill the position requirements.
  • Resume or curriculum vitae.
  • A statement (maximum two pages) that describes your “demonstrated leadership skills, abilities, and commitment necessary to advance accessibility, diversity, equity and inclusion and to cultivate work environments that are equitable and inclusive of employees with diverse cultural backgrounds and social identities.” The statement should include your past professional and/or personal experience with, and plans for contributing to accessibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion. For information on diversity and inclusion at Western, please see Advancing Diversity and Inclusion at Western.
  • List of five professional references with full contact information and a note indicating the nature of your working relationship with each; references will not be contacted without the explicit permission of the candidate

Confidential inquiries, nominations, and application materials should be directed to:

Jan Greenwood
Founder, Greenwood/Asher & Associates, LLC Vice President & Managing Partner, Kelly

Ann Bailey
Senior Executive Search Consultant Greenwood/Asher & Associates, LLC

Closing Date Notes Applications and nominations are now being accepted. For best consideration, please submit applications materials by August 30, 2021.

Western Washington University (WWU) is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer committed to assembling a diverse, broadly trained faculty and staff. Women, minorities, people with disabilities and veterans are strongly encouraged to apply. In compliance with applicable laws and in furtherance of its commitment to fostering an environment that welcomes and embraces diversity, WWU does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex (including pregnancy and parenting status), disability, age, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status or genetic information in its programs or activities, including employment, admissions, and educational programs. See WWU’s Policy on Ensuring Equal Opportunity and Prohibiting Discrimination and Retaliation. Inquiries may be directed to the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX Compliance, Title IX and ADA Coordinator, Western Washington University, Old Main 345 (MS 9021), 516 High Street, Bellingham, WA 98225; 360.650.3307 (voice) or 711 (Washington Relay);

WWU is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities upon request. To request this document in an alternate format or to request an accommodation, please contact Human Resources Disability Services, 360.650.3774 or 711 (Washington Relay).

Annual Security and Fire Safety Report: This report is provided pursuant to the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act ("The Clery Act"). It includes statistics for the previous three calendar years concerning reported crimes that occurred on Western's campus; in certain off-campus buildings or property owned or controlled by Western; and on public property within, or immediately adjacent to and accessible from, the campus. The report also includes institutional policies concerning campus security, such as policies concerning alcohol and drug use, crime prevention, the reporting of crimes, sexual assault, and other matters. You can obtain a copy of this report in printed or alternate formats by contacting the Office of the Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services at The report can be found at: Annual Security and Fire Safety Report.

All new employees must comply with the immunization policy and show employment eligibility verification as required by the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service before beginning work at WWU. A thorough background check will be conducted on all new hires.

Job no: 498364
Advertised: Pacific Daylight Time
Applications close:

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