View Job Listing

Title : Executive Director for People and Culture
Date : December 9, 2019
Department : Office of People & Culture
Type : Staff
Location : Oakland
Contact : Human Resources
To Apply : Visit Taleo Link
Cost Center : 8016
Description :

Founded in 1909, Samuel Merritt University (SMU) is a private, not-for-profit, health sciences institution with campuses in Fresno, Oakland, Sacramento, and San Mateo, California. The University is regionally accredited by WSCUC and offers degrees in nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, physician assistant, and podiatric medicine.

The University strives to reflect the community it serves by recruiting students with a variety of ethnic, cultural, and economic backgrounds. 

The University has a strong reputation for personalized instruction because of its outstanding faculty, who bring impressive academic and clinical backgrounds to life-long learning, and a deep commitment to students and to the community. 


Samuel Merritt University educates students to become highly skilled and compassionate healthcare professionals who positively transform the experience of care in diverse communities. 


Samuel Merritt University students learn to advance health equity and make a lasting impact on individual health and community well-being. 


• A learning environment where we challenge ourselves and our students to think critically, seek mastery and act compassionately. 

• A collegial environment where we are fair, respectful and behave with integrity. 

• A collaborative environment where we partner with one another and with others in the community. 

• An innovative environment where we take reasoned risks and move nimbly. 

• A results-oriented environment where we provide and expect exceptional performance and service. 

Job Summary:

The Executive Director of the Office of People and Culture (EDPC) is the chief administrator for the human resources and diversity/inclusion functions of the University. The EDPC provides expert knowledge and support to President’s Cabinet members, the university management team and the campus community on all human resource- and diversity/inclusion-related issues and provides input and support to the leadership team on overall employee issues. EDPC assesses and anticipates HR-related needs and communicates needs proactively with leadership to meet university mission. The EDPC plays a major role in the development and implementation of SMU’s vision and strategy for recruitment and development of diverse human talents and their inclusive success. This includes the quality, equity, and inclusiveness of faculty/students/ staff-oriented services and support and contribution to overall administrative performance and implementation of University mission and related strategies. EDPC is responsible for implementing federal/state labor laws and regulations and diversity/inclusion programs, collecting meaningful data to assess needs and program impact, planning, implementing, achieving and evaluating progress toward SMU’s diversity/inclusion goals, and reporting results to the Board of Regents, the President and to the SMU Community. The EDPC supports a working/learning environment where diverse perspectives from the university employees and students are respected and encouraged.

Many operational and implementation aspects of the human resource’s functions are managed by Sutter Health and the EDPC exercises “functional authority” as policies, programs and initiatives are executed and administered at SMU. At the University, the EDPC serves as the duly authorized representative of the functions and issues of people and culture in leading, guiding, shaping, serving and safeguarding programs and activities that are grounded in strategic mandates and add value to the University’s diverse employees and students.

Duties and Responsibilities:

Other duties may be assigned. An asterisk (*) denotes an “essential job function” for ADA purposes.

1. Participates as a member of the University Administrative Council in charting the future of the University and assuring continuous improvement in overall University effectiveness, efficiency, inclusiveness, and integration (10%)

• Be an aspirational and inspirational leader who brings knowledge of labor laws and regulations, human resource strategy, recruitment, retention and development needs, and diversity and inclusion principles and issues to the discussions and decision-making process

• Ensures success of employees and students with diverse backgrounds in all divisions and academic programs by offering necessary training, orientation, support, mentorship, services, and programs to reach SMU’s goals as a diverse and inclusive institution

• Assures effective communications between the President, VPSIO, President’s Cabinet, and business operations in matters related to people and culture

• Leads the development, implementation, evaluation, and continuous improvement of the University Diversity and Inclusion Plan in collaboration with the University community and its leadership team to ensure that the faculty, student and staff profiles are reflective of the diverse communities the University serves and there is inclusive excellence among all the employees and students

2. Serves as chief leader and subject matter expert for the human resources and diversity and inclusion functions, including (but not limited to) (30%):

• Anticipates competitive, marketplace and legal/regulatory environment impacting human capital development, and the inclusiveness of the University culture; develops plans, policies and programs responsive to these needs based on the University’s mission and core values

• Seeks to implement best practices (both internal and external) in human talent development to ensure inclusiveness, equity, support, and compliance in all the University’s functions and operations

• Lead and ensure best practices in compensation, benefits, health/wellness, and retirement programs for the organization. Work with the President’s Cabinet members to develop the compensation strategy; prepare managers for the salary planning and providing salary budgets; present results of the process to business leaders.

• Recommends to President’s Cabinet, implements and manages employee recognition and “non-monetary” rewards programs; monitors for effectiveness improvement of employee satisfaction, engagement and retention.

• Reviews program-specific plans regarding non-exempt (non-supervisory) employee’s wages, hours and conditions of employment, as needed.

• Leads the university-wide effort to establish a culture of inclusiveness and equity by developing diversity/inclusion policies and procedures, equitably applying them, and offering impactful activities and programs to the campus communities

• Provides regular reports of issues of people and culture to VPSIO and the university President

• Serves as a key “trouble shooter” when unique problems related to the issues and functions of people and culture arise

• Assures that policies, programs and management systems are in place to protect the University from human resources and diversity/inclusion-related risks

• EDPC may be requested to provide information or make presentations to different Boards and/or Board Committees across the Sutter Health System and the SMU

3. Leads planning and execution of human resources and diversity/inclusion priorities across the University (40%)

• Engages campus constituencies by providing strategic guidance, effective communication, and extensive support to promote synergies and integration in support of the needs and priorities of people and culture across SMU.

• Uses Sutter Health’s Region, Facility or System subject matter experts as needed to formulate plans

• Ensures effective implementation of and compliance with all the applicable federal/state labor laws and regulations, Title IX, and EOO policies and procedures, and accreditation standards

• Leads and participates in initial investigation for legal complaints from the EEOC, DFEH, Title IX, or EDD and supports investigations and formal responses

• Develops an annual plan with goals/objectives/budget for the Office. When the plan elements involve significant economic or time commitments, they are submitted to President’s cabinet for approval prior to implementation

• Assesses organizational effectiveness of HR and diversity/inclusion programs/policies and reports findings to senior leadership

• Leads planning and execution of HR and diversity/inclusion priorities for the University and leads culture change in support of the university strategic initiatives

• Monitors/drives SMU Employee Engagement (EOW), Climate Survey, and retention strategy; plans and achieves Employee Engagement target through EOW results and action planning

• Performs advisory role in workforce planning including expansion, stabilization, restructuring as well as forecasting and cost analysis during the short and long-term life cycle needs and evolution of the university.

• Coordinate with university leadership to create a cohesive organization wide staffing plan. In collaboration with the VPSIO and CFO, implement and monitor position budgeting procedures and/or software solutions in order to review and ensure that staffing plans are aligned with span of control, budgeted allocations and metrics.

• Understands local and regional healthcare talent markets; revise and localize job descriptions and compensation with recruiting and compensation goals for each SMU office. Also, assist university leadership with workforce planning & implementation for temporary staffing needs, internship placements and other talent acquisition and retention processes.

• Establishes an environment fostering positive employee relations programs and outcomes, providing leadership and guidance to managers and staff

• Supports safety programs

• Regularly collaborates with others to ensure that people and culture-related solutions are delivered and/or created to meet University need; partnering with other HR experts when appropriate and provides feedback on solution effectiveness

• Provides strategic guidance, enhancing performance and promoting synergies within the Office

• Maintains a system to monitor and manage operations of the Office, including implementing corrective actions

• Engages in discussions with staff/faculty/students at different levels, creating development plans and opportunities, providing mentoring opportunities, and holding people accountable according to related policies and procedures

• Interviews, trains, counsels, and completes performance reviews;

recommends merit increase, as appropriate

• Conducts rounding activities to gather informal feedback from the faculty, staff and students including items that need timely attention, recognition, and appropriate actions

4. Provides leadership and management to supervisors and managers at SMU (20%)

• Assures that SMU managers and staff are provided with the needed expertise and responsiveness to the needs of operations of the University and they effectively communicate and coordinate with counterparts within the Sutter Health System and SMU regarding issues in people and culture

• Provides support in employment decision (appointment/termination, terms and conditions of employment) related to University leaders, in accordance with System/University human resources policies and practices

• Exercises “direct/functional authority” based on presidential approval


Any combination of training and experience equivalent to a Master's degree in business administration, human resources management, labor relations or related educational field and over five years of significant and increasingly responsible experience managing human talents, supervisory experience with considerable exposure to diversity, Title IX or EEO compliance.

• Must have had direct responsibility for supervising other managers in an organization, preferably at an accredited higher educational institution, with more than 200 employees

• Prior experience in working with diversity-related issues

• Experience with labor relations, knowledge of employment and employee relations, regulations, law and processes is required

• Experience in management of Title IX and EOO policies and issues at a higher educational institution is required

• Demonstrated leadership in diversity and equity to promote collaboration across multiple groups of stakeholders involved in diversity and equity effort

• A record of developing strategies and policies and leading people with diverse interests and backgrounds towards successful implementation

• Experience in leading change to ensure an inclusive and supportive culture at an educational setting with a central educational purpose is desired


• Must be familiar with national/regional labor market trends, effective labor forecasting, human talent recruitment and development strategies, federal/state labor laws and regulations, and Title IX and EOO policies

• Must have a well established concept of the contemporary definition of human resources management and equity, diversity and inclusion to the degree necessary to know how to implement strategies most effectively within SMU

• Must have the knowledge of needed change in higher education and strategies in managing change and transition

• Must understand and appreciate the value of shared governance, transparency, fairness, equity, and collaboration at a university setting

Abilities and Skills:

• Must be able to represent OPC in an influential and persuasive way in dealing with a broad range of human resources and equity/diversity/inclusion issues

• Must have exceptional communication, both written and oral, and interpersonal skills to establish and maintain a presence in a fast-paced and demanding work environment

• Must have political acumen, good persuasion/negotiation skills, be a good facilitator/consensus builder to lead change while being politically sensitive

• Keenly developed human relations skills, be viewed as a hardworking, caring and compassionate leader, friendly, self confident, creative, enthusiastic, flexible and yet disciplined, and a true team player who is not territorial but knows how to cooperate and delegate to get the job done

• Must have excellent analytical and problem identification and resolution skills in dealing with complex human resources and cultural issues

• Must have organizational skills with a keen attention to detail and the ability to effectively manage multiple priorities and projects within given timelines

• Must be able to develop and maintain strong working relationships with the university leadership and business operations entities

• Must have the tenacity to deal with complex structures and tasks over a period of time and be able to influence others without direct lines of authority

Special Requirements:

• Must be willing/ able to travel fairly often in Northern California to visit multiple campus sites or work out of University’s Oakland and other campus site offices, including San Mateo, Sacramento, and Fresno

• Also may require out-of-state travel to represent the University externally and to participate in various people and culture-related conferences and forums


All employees are responsible for integrating security practices in daily work by appropriately using and safeguarding Sutter Health information security resources in compliance with Sutter Health policies and procedures. Access to protected personnel-related information is allowed.

This list of job elements, responsibilities, skills, duties, requirements, or conditions is not exhaustive, but is merely the most descriptive of the current job. Management reserves the right to revise the job description or require that other tasks be performed when the circumstances of the job change (for example, emergencies, staff changes, workload, or technical development).

The University has an institution-wide commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. We strive to build a welcoming and supportive campus environment, and acknowledge that diversity is an educational imperative to achieve excellence.