Tag Archives: Institutional News


The engagement survey team continues to make progress with the findings of our employee engagement survey. As you may recall, one of the major institutional recommendations for improvement centered on performance management. We are pleased to report that we, with the input of staff and faculty, have developed an action plan to address areas of interest and concern.

The engagement survey team organized a series of meetings this past spring for interested staff and faculty. In the first round of meetings, participants had an opportunity to review the data, identify areas for improvement, and prioritize where to start. In the second round of meetings, participants reviewed the emerging priorities and brainstormed ideas for improvement. We had excellent turnouts in Vermont and California with many rich conversations. The survey team reviewed all notes and the following areas emerged as priorities:

  • Enhancing onboarding
  • Addressing compensation
  • Improving the APS instrument
  • Improving how we manage for performance

For detailed information regarding the full plan, click here.

Highlights of the plan are outlined below:


It was widely agreed that an effective onboarding process should help new hires to adjust to the institution, clarify the social and performance aspects of their jobs, and position them for success. Human Resources, as well as each department, has a role to play in that process and associated activities will begin this fall.


While this was not a focus of our performance management discussions, concerns about compensation continued to arise. A fair, equitable, and competitive salary structure is critically important to the recruitment and retention of highly qualified employees. We are operating under a compensation structure established in 2007–2008. It is time to evaluate it to ensure that it meets our current needs and institutional priorities. We will begin a phased process of review beginning this fall.


There was a great deal of dissatisfaction directed at our current APS tool. With the deployment of a new Human Capital Management (HCM) technology system, we have the opportunity to develop a new tool for our annual assessments while re-evaluating what we want to evaluate. We would like to explore a competency-based model for performance evaluation, which focuses on the essential knowledge, skills and behaviors required of employees to be star performers in their respective roles.   We will pursue opportunities to enhance the process as we implement our new technology. The initial phases of this work will occur this year, with the intended target of having a new performance evaluation system in place for FY 2020.

In addition to a new tool, we plan to evaluate other types of performance assessments with initial focus on a 360-degree feedback model, a performance review model that provides a holistic view of an employee by gathering feedback from that employee’s manager, peers and direct reports.


The most significant insight garnered through this process is the need, and desire, to broaden our view of performance management. If we think about performance management as the ways in which we align the capabilities and contributions of our people throughout the year to achieve our organizational goals, it must be comprised of more than the APS process.

Particular emphasis will be directed toward professional development, initially for managers. Managers provide a crucial link in the organization between senior leadership and staff. They work to translate strategy into operations and have a critical role in ensuring the development of their staff. Accordingly, our initial efforts will focus on a professional development program for managers. Key topics will be a core set of managerial competencies, as well as the development of managers as coaches.

Thank you again to all who participated in these institutional conversations. The insight and perspective has been invaluable. We will continue to provide updates to the community as we move forward.


-Karen Miller


What do Envisioning Middlebury, financial sustainability, employee engagement, workforce planning and Project Ensemble, have in common? They are all focused on positioning Middlebury for the future.

Our success in positioning the institution for the future will be dependent on the choices we make now – and our discipline to sustain those choices over the long-term. But, before we choose, we must understand our desires because they provide the context for our choices; they frame what we want to achieve or bring forward into our reality.  So, to have the future we want, we not only must make sound choices and demonstrate discipline, but we also must be clear about what we desire.

Defining what we desire

Answering that question “What do we desire?” is the focus of the project teams that are now engaged in the first step of the workforce planning process, which is to define our future state. Before we can determine our workforce needs, we must define what the work is – and that, of course, depends on what we are striving to achieve.  As an institution, we have said we desire to advance in the strategic directions identified through Envisioning Middlebury.  This fall, we will continue to refine our future as we identify specific initiatives to enact our desire.  Simultaneously, through workforce planning, we are asking every department to explore the work required to advance those directions.

For example, independent of our specific focus on place-based experiential learning, generally, what is the body of work we must engage in to support it and what are the outcomes we seek from that work? What are the outcomes we seek from the work we do in pursuit of digital fluency or organizational nimbleness?  The answers to these questions will give us a better sense of where we are heading – and ultimately, help us shape the kind of workforce we will need to get there.

Through discussions about our future state, we give ourselves permission to focus on possibilities. We can open our minds to new ways of thinking, being, and doing and, as a result, create a new sense of meaning and purpose for our work and new ways to measure our success.  By garnering a clear view of our future state, we also can gain focus and guidance to make intentional choices, set priorities, navigate the inevitable obstacles we will encounter along the way, and demonstrate the discipline we will need to stay the course.

Ensuring Middlebury’s future

As we have discussed over the past year, Middlebury cannot continue to operate the way it has been operating. We must work together to become more efficient in order to be more strategic, and more strategic in order to ensure the institution’s future.

We know that times of change can be challenging. You may be feeling nervous and anxious about the future and, indeed, we have some difficult choices to make about every aspect of our organization.  Please know that we are approaching this work with informed decision making in the Middlebury spirit of fairness and compassion.  We hope you will participate in conversations to share your insights about best practices for your department and identify opportunities to contribute to a successful future for Middlebury. Click here for more information in our Frequently Asked Questions.

Thank you for your continued focus and dedication.


-Karen Miller

What’s New with Workforce Planning

Workforce Planning Begins

Our workforce planning initiative has begun in earnest with several training sessions this month for the project teams. The project teams include individuals asked by their vice president to lead the workforce planning efforts in their departments. Nearly 70 managers and others who have been identified as having a specific insight into the work of their area received a comprehensive overview of the process, as well as an introduction to the available tools and resources to support their efforts. You should be hearing from a member of the project team in your department with regular updates as our work together unfolds.

What they learned is that workforce planning is an ongoing process of workforce analysis focused on identifying our future needs and developing solutions to address the gaps between our current workforce and those needs. Simply stated, they learned that workforce planning is a process to ensure that we have the right people with the right skills in the right jobs at the right time so that Middlebury can achieve its highest goals and objectives. This is the most important work we can do to ensure Middlebury is on a course for success for the next 50 years.

The process begins with us articulating what outcomes we want for the institution’s future. This is what you will hear your project team and others refer to as our future state. Only when we understand what we are trying to achieve, what we want our future state to be, can we determine the work we need to do in order to achieve those outcomes.

The workforce planning effort comes at a time when Middlebury must also address financial sustainability. This can prompt thinking about how to move forward with less. Workforce planning asks us to shift that thinking. Instead of asking, “How can we do 10 percent less work?” let’s ask, “What work do we need to do for our future, and how much of that can we afford today given our current financial constraints?” By engaging our talented and committed community, we can shift from a mindset of scarcity to one of possibility.

So we invite you to take a moment to dream—what will be the outcomes of your work in the future? How will the institution be better or different? Why is that important to our future? And then look for the opportunities to share your insights with your department’s project team.

We will use MiddPoints and other venues to keep you updated on our progress. In the meantime, you can find out the members of your project team here.


-Karen Miller

Middlebury-Wide FY19 and FY20 Holiday and Floating Holiday Schedule

Beginning in fiscal year 2019 all US-based Middlebury operations will adhere to a single holiday and floating holiday schedule. In order to make departmental and personal planning easier, going forward Human Resources will publish a 2-year holiday calendar near the beginning of each academic/fiscal year. The first of these calendars is included below and will also be available on the Human Resources website.

Holiday/Floating Holiday Schedule



Type July 1, 2018


June 30, 2019


July 1, 2019


June 30, 2020


Independence Day FH Jul. 4, 2018 Jul. 4, 2019
Labor Day FH Sept. 3, 2018 Sept. 2, 2019
Thanksgiving Break H Nov. 22 – 23, 2018 Nov. 28 – 29, 2019
Year-End Holiday Break H Dec. 22, 2018 –Jan. 1, 2019 Dec. 24, 2019–Jan. 1, 2020
Martin Luther King Day H Jan. 21, 2019 Jan. 20, 2020
Memorial Day FH May 27, 2019 May 25,2020
Total Floating Holidays

Total Regular Holidays





Holiday Breaks and Floating Holidays begin at close of business the day before the designated holiday (or holiday break) and end at 11:59 pm on the designated holiday (or holiday break).

Holiday (H) – On designated Holidays all Middlebury operations are closed, except for a small number of mission-essential functions such as Public Safety, the heating plant, etc., which may run on reduced capacity. The actual total number of Holidays may vary slightly from year-to-year depending on whether or not year-end holidays fall on a weekend day. Benefits-eligible staff employees record “Holiday” on their timesheets for designated Holidays which occur on days on which they would otherwise have been scheduled to work. Most non-exempt, benefits-eligible employees who are required to work on a designated holiday are eligible for Holiday Premium Pay in addition to regular and Holiday pay. (Employees who are not eligible for Holiday pay due to their non-benefits-eligible status may nonetheless be eligible for Holiday Premium Pay if they are required to work on a designated holiday.)


Floating Holiday (FH) – On designated Floating Holidays most administrative and some operational departments are closed, however certain academic areas are open as are departments providing direct support to those academic areas. Area VPs (or their designees) will determine which departments or functions may close in observance of the holiday and which must remain open and be staffed. Employees who do not work on a designated Floating Holiday record time away as “CTO” (note: time is built into CTO accruals to cover these days).  Employees who are required to work on a designated floating holiday earn regular (not premium) pay and do not record CTO.


—Cheryl Mullins



Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Becomes an Official Middlebury Holiday!

The Administration is pleased to announce that Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Day will be recognized as an official Middlebury holiday, beginning in 2019. This means that all US-based operations will be closed (except for essential services) on MLK Day, in the same manner as operations are closed for the Thanksgiving and Year-End Holiday Breaks, and that benefits-eligible staff employees will be paid “holiday time” for the day.  (Detailed information regarding recording and approving staff time will be provided closer to the holiday. Middlebury faculty will receive information about how the addition of the MLK holiday will affect J-term from the Dean of Faculty’s Office, near the start of the fall term.)  With the addition of this holiday all Middlebury (US) operations are now operating on a unified holiday and floating holiday calendar (see next article for the full FY19 and FY20 holiday schedules.)

Employee Benefits: Private Exchange Update

Early last spring, during a series of open meetings on financial sustainability, the community was introduced to the concept of a “private health exchange”, which Middlebury had planned to implement in 2019. As a reminder, under a private exchange our current one-size-fits-all medical plan will be augmented by at least two new medical plan options, giving employees the ability to select a plan that best meets their needs. In addition, a private exchange will likely include an optional employer-funded health reimbursement account or a health savings account* (both quite popular with employees), as well as additional dental and vision options and new voluntary benefit choices. Implementing a private exchange will allow Middlebury to continue to improve our excellent health benefits while at the same time managing ever-rising healthcare costs.

Our update today is that this benefit change will be postponed until January 1, 2020. The reason for the change in timing is that the institution needs to prioritize the implementation of the Oracle ERP (Enterprise Resource Platform) project—Project Ensemble. That work is underway and is going well, but will extend through the spring of 2019.

While the delay is unfortunate, it has the upside of allowing Human Resources more time to work with our Green Mountain Higher Education Consortium partners to design a program that will best meet the diverse needs and preferences of our community and ensure that we have the support needed to minimize uncertainty and anxiety that often accompany changes of this kind.

For example, as we learn more about best practices we are strongly leaning toward a set of tiered plans that will cover the identical services, procedures, and prescription medicines, with the difference being in the share of the cost covered within the chosen tier. This model reduces the complexity of decision-making and concerns about equity between tiers of coverage.

Even with a simplified tier approach we remain acutely aware that adding multiple benefit plan options will require comprehensive support for employee decision making. The GMHEC partners have continued to explore sophisticated software options that are available to help employees navigate the benefit selection process. In addition, we have learned that the newly emerging best practice is to employ not only software, but to contract with a benefits consulting company to provide a team of highly trained professionals to temporarily supplement the employer’s benefits department during the critical decision-making period. In this way the institution can ensure that anyone who wants one-on-one support will be able to get a timely appointment. Our thinking, at this point, is that such a model could be highly useful, especially during the first year of the private exchange.

As we look forward toward the private exchange, we want to emphasize one important institutional commitment: regardless of the composition of the benefits program, Middlebury will continue to maintain its income-sensitive approach to employee contributions in which lower-compensated employees pay a significantly lower percentage of the premium cost.

Because the private exchange implementation is now over a year and a half away, we do not anticipate having large open meetings over the next few months. However, HR remains committed to keeping the community apprised of the project status and to that end has recently visited Senior Leadership Group, Staff Council, and met with representatives from Faculty Council to provide in-person updates.  As we get closer to January 2020 you can expect communication and engagement efforts to intensify. In the meantime, we are happy to meet with other stakeholder groups who may be interested in learning more about our current thinking on private exchange design and support of the new program.  Please email questions or invitations to cmullins@middlebury.edu.


–Karen Miller

–Cheryl Mullins