Vice President, Division of Human Resources

  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Philadelphia, PA, USA
  • Feb 22, 2024
Full time Human Resources & Affirmative Action President and Chancellor Vice President/Associate/Assistant VP

Job Description


Vice President, Division of Human Resources

University Overview

The University of Pennsylvania, the largest private employer in Philadelphia, is a world-renowned leader in education, research, and innovation. This historic, Ivy League school consistently ranks among the top 10 universities in the annual U.S. News & World Report survey. Penn has 12 highly-regarded schools that provide opportunities for undergraduate, graduate and continuing education, all influenced by Penn's distinctive interdisciplinary approach to scholarship and learning. As an employer Penn has been ranked nationally on many occasions with the most recent award from Forbes who named Penn one of America's Best Large Employers in 2023.

Penn offers a unique working environment within the city of Philadelphia. The University is situated on a beautiful urban campus, with easy access to a range of educational, cultural, and recreational activities. With its historical significance and landmarks, lively cultural offerings, and wide variety of atmospheres, Philadelphia is the perfect place to call home for work and play.

The University offers a competitive benefits package that includes excellent healthcare and tuition benefits for employees and their families, generous retirement benefits, a wide variety of professional development opportunities, supportive work and family benefits, a wealth of health and wellness programs and resources, and much more.

Posted Job Title
Vice President, Division of Human Resources

Job Profile Title
Vice President

Job Description Summary
Reporting to Senior Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli, the Vice President of Human Resources (“VPHR” or “Vice President”) will oversee talent management, compensation, benefits, employee relations, and other HR functions. This is an opportunity to lead Human Resources for one of the largest private employers in Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. With such a scale, this role has remarkable potential for outsized impact.

Job Description

The VPHR provides guidance and expertise on HR matters to the President, Provost, Senior Executive Vice President, and other senior leaders. The VPHR provides strong and empowering leadership to the core HR team to maximize their potential, proficiency, and professional growth and provides dotted-line guidance to school/center HR professionals.

Functional areas of human resources include benefits, compensation, talent acquisition, talent development, employee and dependent tuition administration, school/center and central HR collaboration, Quality of work-life programs, Onboard @ Penn, the Penn Solution (call) Center, Human Resources Information Management, HR Communications, Economic Inclusion, and Staff and Labor Relations.

The successful candidate must possess an appreciation for the complexity of human resources in the context of an urban and dynamic university campus with a significant international population, as well as an unwavering commitment to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in every facet of the department's activities. Key expectations for the successful candidate include total compensation strategy, skill in creative problem-solving, and a proven ability to motivate a diverse workforce to succeed as a high-functioning team.

The Vice President oversees the design and administration of competitive and equitable compensation and benefits programs. The successful candidate analyzes market trends to ensure the university remains competitive in attracting and retaining talent, overseeing recruitment, selection, onboarding, and retention efforts to do so. The VPHR develops and implements comprehensive talent management and succession planning programs as well as policies and procedures to maintain a positive and compliant work environment. The VPHR streamlines HR processes and procedures to enhance efficiency and effectiveness and guides the implementation of advanced technology solutions to support HR functions and talent management systems. The VPHR is responsible for ensuring compliance with federal, state, and local employment laws and regulations.

The ideal candidate will have a history of success in collaborating with schools to create an inclusive and supportive campus environment for students, faculty, and staff. This is an opportunity to lead critical efforts in central HR and collaborate with HR professionals across and within the twelve schools and multiple academic and administrative centers.

In addition to the Senior Executive Vice President, the Vice President will work closely with the following Penn administrators:

  • President (and the President's Chief of Staff)
  • EVP Direct Reports, particularly Vice President for Finance and Senior Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer
  • Provost
  • Deans
  • Senior Vice President and General Counsel
  • Vice Provost for Faculty
  • Vice Deans for Finance and Administration
  • HR Directors in the Schools/Centers

Key Priorities for the Vice President of Human Resources will be to:

  • Advise and collaborate with the members of the senior leadership team on issues related to people and culture with professionalism and managerial courage.
  • Support the HR team in modeling client service, performance, and responsiveness.
  • Continue to develop the HR team in a client-oriented way to support the ongoing growth in scale and complexity of the broader organization.
  • Ensure institutional compliance with HR-related legal and contractual requirements.
  • Coordinate with the schools/centers and other groups on campus to standardize best practices and processes related to hiring, developing, promoting, and retaining talent in a highly competitive market.
  • Develop HR budget to ensure that resource allocations reflect organizational priorities and empower direct reports to work independently.
  • Foster a culture of continuous improvement, extraordinary talent, and meaningful work, as well as one that is open, trusting, and supportive.
  • Serve as the liaison to the Trustee Executive Compensation Committee, preparing the market analysis for the compensation for Deans and Officers.
  • Collaborate with critical stakeholders to enhance and create programs that support the well- being of all.
  • In partnership with the office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, ensure that all HR activities are conducted to ensure the recruitment, retention, and development of broad and diverse talent.
  • Assess internal communications strategies and modify as needed to facilitate the effective sharing of information within the Penn community.
  • Enhance and sustain positive labor relations throughout the university. Lead university labor relations, interacting with eight (8) unions representing University staff.
  • Ensure that the performance management process encourages staff development and advancement, in part through enhancing the adoption of technology platforms, specifically Workday.
  • Lead the Human Resource Advisory Group, a council comprised of central and school/center HR leaders.
  • Coordinate with stakeholders across campus to ensure policies, procedures and practices are equitable and fairly applied across all members of the University community.
  • Assess HR policies to ensure clarity, relevance, and a progressive workplace culture.
  • Support senior level searches and partner with search firms as appropriate; and
  • Maintain an awareness of the broader landscape of higher education as needs and practices of the faculty, staff and student body continue to evolve.

Candidate Profile

In terms of the competencies required for the position, Penn is seeking a Vice President with strategic human resources experience within an organization that has high expectations and aspirations for its workforce. Strong candidates will have experience professionalizing existing resources to lead an HR function and team that can support a large-scale, complex organization. The ideal candidate has an appreciation and understanding of higher education structures potentially (although not necessarily) gained through experience in higher education, or in a similarly complex and mission-driven setting.

An advanced degree is preferred.

The ideal candidate will be a strategic, dynamic, and engaging HR leader who has spent time in a complex, matrixed environment, and who brings the judgment and acumen to be comfortable making decisions, at times with imperfect information. They will be deeply comfortable in ambiguity. They will understand how to operate collaboratively and collegially across diverse constituents and will have a history of success in leading through influence. They will bring deep subject matter expertise across the range of HR disciplines, particularly (although not limited to) labor relations, employee relations, leadership and development, organizational development, and executive compensation.

The competencies required for the position include the following:

Setting Strategy

  • Seeks and analyzes data from a variety of sources to inform and support decisions and to align others with the University's overall strategy.
  • Effectively balances the desire/need for broad change with an understanding of how much change the organization is capable of handling to create realistic goals and implementation plans that are achievable and successful.
  • Prioritizes requests and identifies long-term priorities and quick wins.
  • Has a consultative decision-making style that builds rapport and grows credibility and trust.
  • Collaborates with senior administration to align resources for optimal productivity; and
  • Drives change through a continuous cycle of observing, learning, and improving.

Executing for Results

  • Possesses broad HR functional skills in all relevant areas, including organizational development, staffing and recruitment, compensation, benefits, training, employee, and labor relations.
  • Sets clear and challenging goals and mobilizes others to take shared ownership of implementation - knows how to achieve impact through a diverse and distributed network of partners and stakeholders.
  • Manages a highly competent HR team at a senior level in a complex, matrixed organization characterized by a high regard for empowering others, a results orientation, and a highly intellectual workforce; and
  • Is tenacious and accountable in driving results.

Leading Teams

  • Is able to relate to a broad and diverse workforce at all levels.
  • Inspirational and visionary leadership style motivates the HR team through mission, vision, authenticity, approachability, and expertise.
  • Fosters a healthy and caring work environment for the HR team and across the workforce.
  • Possesses the ability to attract and recruit top talent, motivate teams, delegate effectively, celebrate diversity within teams, and manage performances while being a strong developer of others.

Relationships and Influence

  • Naturally connects and builds strong relationships with various constituents, including students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members, demonstrating strong emotional intelligence and an ability to communicate clearly and persuasively.
  • Possesses well-honed influencing skills that will enable this individual to persuade minds, engage in difficult and deeply personal dialogue with empathy, and handle conflict with grace and humility.
  • Works comfortably in a collaborative environment
  • Practices servant leadership.
  • Effectively negotiates with vendors, including health and welfare insurance brokers and retirement plan investment managers.
  • Inspires trust and followership in others through compelling influence, powerful charisma, passion in their beliefs, and active drive; and
  • Encourages others to share the spotlight and visibly celebrates and supports the success of the team.

Personal Characteristics

  • Acts in a transparent and consistent manner, has high integrity and a reputation for making and owning critical decisions in the best interest of their organization.
  • High intellectual acuity, functional expertise, and a willingness to take appropriate risks.
  • Empathizes and connects with others naturally - can put themselves in someone else's shoes and bridge gaps between those with differing experiences.
  • Operates with managerial courage, a high EQ, and low ego.

  • Communicates the why behind decisions and processes, ensuring that diverse constituencies are engaged effectively and in an ongoing manner.
  • Acts with extraordinary diplomacy.
  • Leads with humility and curiosity.
  • Minimum seven years of experience
  • Advanced degree preferred.

Nomination and Application Procedure

Penn invites inquiries, nominations, and applications for the position of Vice President of Human Resources. Interested candidates should confidentially submit a curriculum vitae and letter of interest (Adobe PDF files preferred) to:

For full consideration, materials should be received as soon as possible and preferably by March 20, 2024.


Stephen D. Newton

Russell Reynolds Associates

609 Main Street, Suite 3500

Houston, TX 77002-3106

Claire Godwin

Russell Reynolds Associates

1700 New York Avenue, NW Suite 400 Washington, DC 20006-5208

Job Location - City, State
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Department / School
General University Special

Pay Range

Salary offers are made based on the candidate's qualifications, experience, skills, and education as they directly relate to the requirements of the position, as well as internal and market factors and grade profile.

Affirmative Action Statement
Penn adheres to a policy that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, creed, national or ethnic origin, citizenship status, age, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected class.

Special Requirements
Background check required after a conditional job offer is made. Consideration of the background check will be tailored to the requirements of the job.

University Benefits

  • Health, Life, and Flexible Spending Accounts: Penn offers comprehensive medical, prescription, behavioral health, dental, vision, and life insurance benefits to protect you and your family's health and welfare. You can also use flexible spending accounts to pay for eligible health care and dependent care expenses with pre-tax dollars.
  • Tuition: Take advantage of Penn's exceptional tuition benefits. You, your spouse, and your dependent children can get tuition assistance here at Penn. Your dependent children are also eligible for tuition assistance at other institutions.
  • Retirement: Penn offers generous retirement plans to help you save for your future. Penn's Basic, Matching, and Supplemental retirement plans allow you to save for retirement on a pre-tax or Roth basis. Choose from a wide variety of investment options through TIAA and Vanguard.
  • Time Away from Work: Penn provides you with a substantial amount of time away from work during the course of the year. This allows you to relax, take vacations, attend to personal affairs, recover from illness or injury, spend time with family—whatever your personal needs may be.
  • Long-Term Care Insurance: In partnership with Genworth Financial, Penn offers faculty and staff (and your eligible family members) long-term care insurance to help you cover some of the costs of long-term care services received at home, in the community or in a nursing facility. If you apply when you're newly hired, you won't have to provide proof of good health or be subject to underwriting requirements. Eligible family members must always provide proof of good health and are subject to underwriting.
  • Wellness and Work-life Resources: Penn is committed to supporting our faculty and staff as they balance the competing demands of work and personal life. That's why we offer a wide variety of programs and resources to help you care for your health, your family, and your work-life balance.
  • Professional and Personal Development: Penn provides an array of resources to help you advance yourself personally and professionally.
  • University Resources: As a member of the Penn community, you have access to a wide range of University resources as well as cultural and recreational activities. Take advantage of the University's libraries and athletic facilities, or visit our arboretum and art galleries. There's always something going on at Penn, whether it's a new exhibit at the Penn Museum, the latest music or theater presentation at the Annenberg Center, or the Penn Relays at Franklin Field to name just a few examples. As a member of the Penn community, you're right in the middle of the excitement—and you and your family can enjoy many of these activities for free.
  • Discounts and Special Services: From arts and entertainment to transportation and mortgages, you'll find great deals for University faculty and staff. Not only do Penn arts and cultural centers and museums offer free and discounted admission and memberships to faculty and staff. You can also enjoy substantial savings on other goods and services such as new cars from Ford and General Motors, cellular phone service plans, movie tickets, and admission to theme parks.
  • Flexible Work Hours: Flexible work options offer creative approaches for completing work while promoting balance between work and personal commitments. These approaches involve use of non-traditional work hours, locations, and/or job structures.
  • Penn Home Ownership Services: Penn offers a forgivable loan for eligible employees interested in buying a home or currently residing in West Philadelphia, which can be used for closing costs or home improvements.
  • Adoption Assistance: Penn will reimburse eligible employees on qualified expenses in connection with the legal adoption of an eligible child, such as travel or court fees, for up to two adoptions in your household.

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