Archive for Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Heard on the Hill: Consultant introduces business-like hiring approach to KU; DREAM Act gets support from president; some students still hard at work over winter break

December 22, 2010



Captain Kangaroo — The Banana Man!

Your daily dose of news, notes and links from around Kansas University.

• I had an interesting chat this week with Vic Hunter, of Hunter Business Group, a Milwaukee-based marketing and consulting company.

Hunter had worked with KU Provost Jeff Vitter while Vitter was at Purdue University as the school’s dean of sciences. There, Hunter and Vitter helped institute a new system of faculty hiring that’s being tried out today at KU.

Hunter said it’s very focused on behaviors. There’s a whole process, involving multiple telephone interviews and screenings and questions designed to bring out specific types of behavior traits.

While such questions are more common in the business world, it’s much harder to find in the world of academe.

“It’s practically non-existent,” Hunter told me. He’s surveyed about 10 universities and found that few use his kinds of tactics and questions.

Hunter said the idea became evident after working with Vitter at Purdue, and spotting that some faculty members were clearly all-stars in their fields. Hunter said he noticed that it was often behaviors — and not skills — that set those people apart from their peers.

So he devised ways for groups to identify sets of behaviors they wanted to see in people. At KU, the process was rather remarkable, because separate sets of people in the training sessions identified nearly the same five or six behaviors they’d like to see in positions that should be filled.

Hunter said an example of a behavior-eliciting question would be one that asks a potential candidate, “How do you know when you’ve done a good job?”

A strategist might answer that it was when he met an objective set of goals that he laid out beforehand. Someone with a mission of service might answer that it was when a customer told her she had done well.

A few departments at KU — including political science and chemistry — are trying out the new process in their faculty searches, and Hunter said he’ll be in touch with university folks as they move through their searches to see how things are going.

I’d love to hear from anyone involved in one of these searches, or from someone who attended the September training with Hunter. What do you think? Would this approach from the business world work well at KU?

• Here from my perch at Seventh and New Hampshire, we’ll be exploring some new video opportunities in the near future.

My company is coaxing me along and trying to find new ways to incorporate video into all that we do. One video that you’ll likely see sometime soon on this blog started with a pretty simple concept — me going out and around the university spotting students and others who were still hard at work over the winter break. I’ve already talked to a couple folks, and may wind up getting some more before I put the whole thing together.

I don’t want to spoil the surprise or anything, but there’s still quite a few things going on at KU once you get past the rather desolate-looking sidewalks along Jayhawk Boulevard, as students — and many faculty and staff, too — take off for holiday breaks.

It’s a lot easier to find a parking spot, though, that’s for sure. As I learn how to operate small cameras, I’ll be on the lookout for good, visual opportunities to tell stories in a new way. So feel free to let me know if you have something you think would be good.

• President Barack Obama still supports the DREAM Act, which would provide a path for young illegal immigrants to obtain legal status.

Eligible people would include those who were brought to the U.S. before age 16, have been here for five years, graduated high school or gained an equivalency degree, and who joined the military or attend college.

I’m making an effort to check in on the issue here locally at KU this week, to see how some folks here are taking the news.

• A quick thanks to Heard on the Hill fan Peggy Huey, who heard my appeal Tuesday, and sent along this video of Captain Kangaroo and the Banana Man. That dude had a lot of pockets.

• Feel free to send in a video of yourself giving me a tip for Heard on the Hill. But watch out. I've found out it's easy for slightly neurotic people like me to have a tendency to shake the camera too much. If your video's a little wobbly, just send words to


yourworstnightmare 7 years, 3 months ago

"Hunter said an example of a behavior-eliciting question would be one that asks a potential candidate, “How do you know when you’ve done a good job?”"

For too many faculty at KU, the answer is "I squeaked by and did the minimum low standards to get tenure, and now I can coast and not achieve or work hard again".

Shardwurm 7 years, 3 months ago

Agreed. Or how about:

"I changed 5 words in my 'book' that I require for class, had it put on CD, gave each one a different passcode for accessing required online material, charged $75 for it, and didn't get my ass beat."

Betty Bartholomew 7 years, 3 months ago

Don't forget the part where the book can't be sold back because another five words will be changed for next semester, so a new edition of the book will be required.

I don't understand how they get away with that one.

question4u 7 years, 3 months ago

Would you let us know the names of those faculty members and why you are qualified to make such an assessment? You didn't indicate your credentials.

Horace 7 years, 3 months ago

What a coincidence. I was just thinking that what KU really needs is more HR types running things.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.