Jackie McClain didn't like the way she was treated when she was a secretary at Kansas University.
So she went to the administration with her complaints.
"Frankly, I often did not like the way the organization was communicating to me," McClain said. "I approached the administration about the way the office and clerical employees were treated."
Now, McClain is a member of the administration.
In her new post as director of the Department of Human Resources on the Lawrence campus, McClain said, her experience years ago has helped her relate to the nearly 20 employees she now oversees.
"I've been a secretary," she explained on her fourth day at her new job. "I've been in a lot of different employee situations. I understand how it feels to be at the bottom of the totem pole, at the middle and at the top."
McCLAIN, 46, was hired July 1 as director of the newly organized department, formerly called Personnel Services. The job isn't exactly new to McClain: She was director of that office at the KU Medical Center for about 6 years and commuted from Lawrence to Kansas City, Kan., every weekday.
Prior to that, she headed personnel for the city of Lawrence. And for 4 years, she was director of affirmative action and labor relations for the University of Missouri system, which included four campuses and a hospital. Before that, it was law school.
All of that left little time for her husband and three children. So she decided to take on the Lawrence campus.
"My kids and my husband are No. 1," she said. "But my career is important, too. This will be a professional challenge. I'm really ready for a better balance between my family and my profession."
Although she'll be busy reorganizing the office, McClain said she expects to be able to spend more time at home simply because she won't have to commute to work.
"THAT ALONE will save me at least 10 hours a week," she said.
Regardless, McClain expects to put in long hours during the next few months, assessing what needs to be done on the Lawrence campus. The human resources department now includes staff benefits and a childcare referral service. She said the department was expanded to better serve the university's employees.
Among the other services the department provides are employee training, employee relations, pre-retirement counseling, health insurance, workers' compensation and employee grievances. The department also handles employee disciplinary actions.
McClain said KUMC's personnel services department was a bigger operation because of the makeup of the staff, who are mostly hospital employees.
Nearly 80 percent of her work dealt with the hospital employees, she said. For example, McClain said she worked about 85 hours a week during the nurses' successful attempt at unionization this spring.
ODDLY ENOUGH, McClain replaces David Lewin, who will leave the Lawrence campus to be assistant director of Personnel Services at KUMC.
The university community's needs are different on the Lawrence campus, McClain said. Soon, she will meet with staff representatives to determine exactly what those needs are.
"I would say there's a need for professional development for the administration and faculty and staff," she said. "My staff's first week assignment is an assessment of their programs and goals and objectives. I have a sense that the department is not very focused right now."