Johns Hopkins Gazette: May 15, 1995

Human Touch

Hopkins' Top Administrators Gather To 
Discuss Ways To "Humanize" University

By Mike Field

     Deans, senior administrators and Human Resources supervisors
from every division of the university gathered in Baltimore May
10 to meet with nationally recognized experts in work and family
issues and to discuss ways in which the Hopkins work environment
can be enhanced to fit the new realities of life in the 1990s. 

     The daylong conference, titled "Work and Family in the 21st
Century," met at the Episcopal Diocesan Center, across the street
from the Homewood campus. More than 100 top university officials
were scheduled to attend the event, which was sponsored by Human
Resources' Office of Worklife Programs.

     "The word balance usually brings to mind a high wire artist
holding a long pole in two hands, carefully putting one foot
before the other on a line strung high above the heads of an
admiring audience," said university president William C.
Richardson in his welcoming remarks to the conference. "In that
sense it is the perfect word to describe the lives of many
working men and women in the 1990s."

     Dr. Richardson preceded University of Nebraska at Lincoln
chancellor Graham B. Spanier, a sociologist and family therapist
known for implementing innovative work and family policies at
other universities.

     In his keynote address, Dr. Spanier talked about the concept
of "humanizing the university" and detailed a range of human
resources programs that have been implemented at various schools
around the country. Calling universities "a microcosm of
society," Dr. Spanier noted the special role leaders such as
those assembled could play in introducing new policies and
practices appropriate to the changing demographics of American

     "If we are going to humanize the university we must think
about everybody," he said. "Universities are often farther along
in these issues with faculty than they are with staff, even
though staff are very often the majority of employees.

Participants also heard from experts about class, gender and
culture, demographic shifts in family structure and dependent
care, and the changing structure of work. 

     Later, they broke into focus groups to examine specific
issues ranging from benefits and diversity to work structure and
institutional values. The collective thinking of the work groups
will be used to help chart new courses as policies and programs
are periodically reviewed.

     "I am tremendously pleased with the conference and the
important work that was accomplished during the various
sessions," said Edgar Roulhac, vice provost for academic services
and interim vice president of Human Resources. "A number of
people devoted considerable effort in planning and preparing the
agenda and did an excellent job of it. The exceptional turnout by
the deans and senior administrative leadership is evidence of the
seriousness with which the university views this issue."

     The conference was a visible reminder of the importance such
issues have begun to play in a workforce that has changed
significantly in the past decade. More single heads of
households, more dual-career marriages, more workers responsible
for caring for children or parents or both mean that,
increasingly, work and family responsibilities collide. Hopkins,
like many other major universities, has been developing work and
family programs in response.

     "These programs are one way the university can support the
changes that are taking place in society and in our lives," Dr.
Roulhac said. "For many of us, work and personal lives are no
longer separate entities. It's important to recognize this and to

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