Operating Staff Council appoints personnel advisor

John Hulseburg
John Hulseberg

NIU faculty and Supportive Professional Staff employees have benefitted from the service of a personnel advisor for decades.

Operating Staff employees now can seek similar assistance from their own advisor.

John Hulseberg, a painter and assistant paint shop foreman based at the Physical Plant, began temporary duties in August as a confidential resource and consultant for his more than 1,500 colleagues across campus.

Hulseberg, who also serves as a member of the Operating Staff Council and the University Benefits Committee, can devote 10 percent of his time to the additional role.

“We wanted to pilot this program because Civil Service employees at NIU haven’t had a personnel advisor,” said Holly Nicholson, president of the Operating Staff Council.

“Union employees have their stewards, but as far as all NIU employees knowing about the resources available to them and how to navigate things at the university, they haven’t had this avenue,” Nicholson added.

“In this advisory role, John can attend meetings without having to remain neutral. For union members, he can talk to them about how to navigate their union structure if they don’t know how. If people don’t know who at NIU to approach on a subject, he can help them with that.”

A nine-year employee of NIU, Hulseberg is grateful to Executive Vice President and Provost Lisa Freeman and the University Council for their support of creating the position.

“I strongly support providing our Operating Staff employees with an additional confidential resource who is knowledgeable about personnel policies and procedures,” said Freeman. “This pilot program will benefit our Civil Service employees and the entire NIU community.”

The former two-term member of the DeKalb County Board – he’s also a 2014 graduate of the Master of Public Administration program at NIU – is just as eager to get started.

“Working in the Physical Plant, and knowing many of the building maintenance, building services and other Operating Staff workers, it seems to me that the balance of NIU’s resources for employees are not always known nor is access always available,” said Hulseberg, who recently served on the Program Prioritization Administrative Task Force.

“My goal is open communication and to advertise this new role so that our 1,500-plus Civil Service employees are aware of it,” he added. “The onus is on me to reach out to each one of the groups.”

Sixteen different unions represent NIU’s Civil Service; some of those collective bargaining agreements clearly dictate grievance procedures and spell out who will represent workers in workplace issues, said Hulseberg, who still can serve as a liaison for those employees.

However not every Civil Service employee is represented by a union, and some unions do not specify representation, so “many employees do not feel they have a voice nor are they always aware of the resources and options available to them,” he added.

Plans for the next year include developing new policies and procedures, or modifying existing ones, that will benefit all Civil Service employees at NIU. A brochure about the personnel advisor’s services also is being created.

Civil Service employees who want to access Hulseberg can call (815) 753-1174 or email ospa@niu.edu.

A review of the new OSPA position will take place next spring to determine whether to make the position permanent.

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