MBA 6330 Transparency

You are the Human Resources Manager for Transparency University, a private not-for-profit [501(c)(3)] university located in Crockett, Texas that offers undergraduate and graduate degrees. The university has an enrollment of 7000 students and employs more than 600 people in faculty, administrative, and staff positions. You report directly to the President and are a member of the Executive Committee. Other members of that Committee include the Provost and VP of Academic Affairs, the VP of Finance and Administration, the VP of Information Technology, and the VP of Student Services. Among the areas reporting to the VP of Student Services are Student, Recruitment, Admissions, Student Records, Student Activities, Advising, and Student Events.

Each year, the University holds two commencement events, one at the end of each long semester. These events are held on the weekend at a time that the university is normally closed. Only students who have been certified to graduate at that term are allowed to participate in the commencement event, and at the completion of the event the students are able to pick up their diplomas in an adjacent room, provided that they have completed all requirements for graduation and been certified to graduate. Transparency U. takes pride in distributing the diplomas after graduation as most universities complete the certification for graduation several weeks after the close of the semester and commencement. While participation by graduating students in commencement is optional, TU has an unusually high participation rate, principally because the students are able to get their diplomas immediately after commencement.

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Even though it is held on campus, commencement is an expensive event because it requires a significant number of people to perform various tasks the day of commencement. These tasks include:

  • Checking in students/prospective graduates who are participating in the event
  • Lining up students/prospective graduates up for the procession
  • Assisting faculty and administrators with their academic gowns including assisting with donning it and straightening the hoods
  • Assisting students/prospective graduates with their academic gowns
  • Serving as ushers assisting attendees in finding seats
  • Serving as greeters/information resources for attendees
  • Providing security at the event in the main event hall as well as in the faculty/administration and student assembly rooms
  • Assisting disabled guests in reaching appropriate seating
  • Taking tickets at the entrances to the event
  • Distributing diplomas after graduation including verifying identities through documents provided by students/graduates and in the student records database
  • Serving as hosts/hostesses at the celebration open house immediately following commencement

Traditionally, these roles have been filled by university employees and assignments were made based on the job responsibility of the employee as related to the tasks needed to be performed. For example, members of the university police department have been assigned for security and persons working in the Student Records Office have been assigned to diploma distribution. Volunteers are solicited to participate and those volunteering are compensated with an honorarium of $200.00 by the university in appreciation of their efforts.

Like many universities, TU has been faced with a decrease in available funds to operate over the last several years and is scrambling to find ways to cut its budget. The President has recently attended a meeting of university presidents from around the nation and in casual conversations with other presidents has discovered that many universities use volunteers to support commencement. Typically these volunteers are provided with a special commencement T-Shirt and a free breakfast or lunch prior to the event.

The President sees an opportunity to cut the budget by adopting the same policy as he heard about at the meeting and eliminating the honorarium. He recognizes that there are issues related to employee morale by making this change and has advised you those will be considered at a later date. For now, he is asking you to review the current practices of TU with respect to staffing commencements and changing to an all uncompensated volunteer system.

The Assignment: Prepare a business memo for the President and the Executive Committee that:

  • Provides an overview of the state (Texas) and federal laws that currently apply to use of volunteers
  • Analyzes compliance of the university with the current laws
  • Analyzes the extent to which the university can change to an all-volunteer system (employees only) for staffing commencement while remaining in compliance with applicable laws, including a list of items that can be used as “minimal compensation” or honoraria
  • Identifies proposed changes in laws that can impact both the current and proposed plan and discuss the political process (parties) in relation to those changes
  • Discusses how the university’s current practices in staffing commencement and the President’s proposal might be affected by those changes, including what would be necessary to remain in compliance
  • Provides a recommendation on whether legal counsel should be consulted and why or why not. If your recommendation is “yes”, then provide the specific questions that should be asked of legal counsel and why.

This memo must not exceed four pages single spaced. You are to use APA citation and reference format.

*This assignment should be completed as though no pandemic exists/has existed and TU is carrying on its normal commencement activities.

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