Fordham University – Chief Human Resources Officer


Fordham University seeks an experienced, effective, and creative leader for the newly-created position of Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO). Reporting to the Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer, the CHRO is responsible for the development and implementation of human resource policies and practices that advance the core educational, operational, and administrative objectives of the university. The CHRO is responsible for providing overall strategic leadership for Human Resources in support of Fordham University’s mission, its Jesuit, Catholic tradition, and its long-term strategic goals. Working collaboratively with leaders across campuses, the CHRO will oversee an effective, innovative, and responsive human resources operation and will promote a high-performing, diverse, and productive culture that attracts, develops, and retains top talent.

Fordham University

Fordham University, the Jesuit University of New York, is a private, coeducational, urban research university in New York City guided by the Jesuit principles of striving for excellence in all things, caring for others, and fighting for justice. Founded by Bishop John Hughes of New York as St. John’s College in 1841 with six students, Fordham University grew steadily over the 20th century and today offers an exceptional education committed to the discovery of Wisdom and the transmission of Learning to over 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students in ten schools on two residential New York City campuses (Rose Hill in the Bronx and Lincoln Center in Manhattan) and centers in Westchester, NY, Armonk, NY, and London, England. Fordham University was ranked 60 in National Universities in the 2017 edition of Best Colleges, has an operating budget of $569 million, and an endowment of approximately $650 million.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classifies Fordham as a doctoral university with high research activity, one of 99 such universities in the country. It is also committed to teaching, boasting a 14:1 undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio and an average class size of 23 students per class. The university is composed of four undergraduate and six graduate schools, offering undergraduate liberal arts and business programs and graduate programs in education, law, social service, religion and religious education, arts and sciences, and education. Fordham has over 175,000 alumni spread throughout the world, with notable alumni including Geraldine Ferraro, the first female Vice Presidential candidate; Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York; Ronald DePinho, president of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; football coaching legend Vince Lombardi; actors Alan Alda, Denzel Washington, and Patricia Clarkson; and numerous leaders in business, finance, government, media and communications, and the arts, including authors Don DeLillo and Mary Higgins Clark, broadcast journalist Charles Osgood, and Judge Denny Chin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

In fall 2015, University President Joseph M. McShane, S.J., set in motion a process to set Fordham’s strategic direction for the next several years. A dedicated committee of faculty and administrators crafted A Strategic Framework for Fordham’s Future: Bothered Excellence, which was approved by the Board of Trustees in September 2016.

The Strategic Framework identifies six areas of strategic work for the university to pursue, under the headings of the following priorities:

  • Contemporary teaching and learning infused with ethics and justice
  • Strategically focused research
  • The inspiration and challenge of New York City
  • A global perspective
  • A diverse and inclusive community
  • A strategic and agile institution

In academic year 2016–17, strategic planning activities will shift to the local level, where all the schools, colleges, and major administrative areas of the university will identify their goals and specify the initiatives they will undertake to achieve them—guided by and aligned with the Strategic Framework. This is a unique opportunity for the Chief Human Resources Officer to join Fordham at a defining moment in its history, as the university engages in the implementation of the vision to build on the historic strengths of Fordham University while charting a course to a bold, new, and inspiring future.

Fordham University Leadership

Father Joseph M. McShane, S.J., President

A native of New York, Father McShane entered the Society of Jesus in 1967 and was ordained a priest in 1977. He received both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from Boston College, and master’s degrees in theology from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley in 1977. He completed his doctorate in the history of Christianity at the University of Chicago in 1981. He served as a member of the Department of Religious Studies at LeMoyne College in Syracuse, New York, from 1981 to 1992. He served as the Dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill from 1992 to 1998. In 1998, he became President of the University of Scranton, a post that he held until he returned to Fordham in 2003 to assume the Fordham presidency.

Stephen Freedman, Provost

Stephen Freedman is the Provost of Fordham University and a Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. He leads the university’s schools and colleges, research centers and institutes, and other academic units. Dr. Freedman joined Loyola University Chicago in 1978 and served for 24 years as a professor in the Department of Natural Science, a member of the graduate faculty in the Department of Biology, and the Dean of Mundelein College. He served as Academic Vice President at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, from 2002 to 2007, before joining Fordham as Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Officer. He became Provost in 2010. An experienced educator, researcher, and university administrator, Dr. Freedman earned a BS from Loyola of Montreal, an MS in environmental studies from York University in Toronto, and a PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of California at Irvine.

Martha K. Hirst, Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, and Treasurer

Martha K. Hirst joined Fordham in 2015 after four years at St. John’s University, where she served as Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, and Treasurer. Before joining Fordham as the university’s Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, and Treasurer, Hirst had a distinguished career in public service, serving as Commissioner of New York City’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services for eight years and as Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Sanitation for six. She served in key roles under every mayor from Ed Koch to Michael Bloomberg, including positions in housing, intergovernmental relations, real estate, energy management, and facilities management and construction. She holds a BA and a Masters in Urban Planning from New York University.

The Role

Reporting to the Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, and Treasurer, the CHRO is the university’s Chief Human Resource Officer and is responsible for comprehensive and strategic leadership in all aspects of the human resources function for the campus. The CHRO will oversee the delivery of HR services, provide strategic advice and support to campus leadership, and oversee daily operations, including benefits design and administration; HR information systems; and labor and employee relations. The CHRO will be called upon to provide strategic and organizational consultation and guidance to senior administrators and institutional leaders and managers on human resource issues, as well as leadership and overall direction for human resource planning and administration for the entire university.

As a new role on campus, the CHRO will initiate and implement change through an articulation of the department’s contribution to the university’s overall mission through innovative ideas and supportive leadership. S/he will supervise the transformation of the talent recruitment and management process at Fordham, including leading efforts to develop university-wide compensation structures that are equitable and competitive; spearheading talent acquisition strategies including state-of-the-art onboarding and professional development initiatives; and collaborating to evaluate and restructure staffing across the university to maximize expertise, effectiveness, and efficiency. The CHRO will refine the HR organization’s vision, roles, procedures, and technology in alignment with the “bothered excellence—an exuberant restlessness of mind and soul” —that defines Fordham’s approach to continuous improvement.

The culture of Fordham University is a caring one and as such, the CHRO will provide leadership in advancing the quality of work life for all employees, as well as develop the policies and best practices necessary to maintain a positive, supportive, and fair working environment that attracts, supports, and retains a qualified and diverse workforce. As Fordham moves to implement its Diversity Action Plan, the CHRO will be a leader in partnering with the Chief Diversity Officer and other senior leaders to nurture a more welcoming and affirming culture on their campuses, and implement HR practices that will enable Fordham to further live up to the ideals of a Jesuit university.

Fordham University employs approximately 2300 full-time employees; with part-time employees the number can exceed 4500. Approximately 500 employees are represented by two collective bargaining agreements, including Local 810 CBA (Teamsters) and Local 153, AFL-CIO. Though the primary locus for faculty recruitment resides in the Office of the Provost, the CHRO will work collaboratively with the Provost office staff on onboarding and relationship-building with faculty and serve as a resource to faculty, administration, and staff alike. As a partner with the general counsel and the Title IX coordinator, both housed under the Vice President for Administration, and in close collaboration with current and future individuals charged with leading campus diversity and inclusion initiatives, the CHRO will serve as a thought leader and driver for fostering a community that welcomes and honors all its members. The CHRO leads a team of 14 individuals currently and will provide supervision and mentorship designed to develop the team to operate at the highest levels of performance, efficiency and integrity. The CHRO will manage an operating budget of $2.1 million and will supervise the management of a benefits program of approximately $100 million.

Key Opportunities & Challenges

The incoming CHRO will join a senior leadership group that is actively looking for a vibrant partner to provide solutions and guidance. This is an important position for a talented human resource professional who wishes to make a significant contribution to strengthening the quality of services and processes through which the university recruits and retains the best faculty, administrators, and staff. The CHRO will be a credible and influential leader, mentor, and developer of strong cross-functional teams; will demonstrate a commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive environment; and will maintain a record of success in managing large scale organizational change. The CHRO will promote innovative and creative problem-solving, possess active listening and strong communication skills, embody trust, confidence, and respect, and lead others by influence and example. Specifically, the CHRO will proactively address the following objectives:

  • Develop collaborative relationships at all levels of Fordham and become a leader of and for human resources, promoting its ability to function as an effective, efficient, and flexible resource while creating opportunities for an exchange of ideas and promoting customer service, education, and ease of access for all employees and potential employees;
  • Foster an environment within human resources of strategic thinking and planning, consulting with users and integrating human resources throughout the university to support and build on the highest qualities of the faculty and staff;
  • Assess all human resource functions and systems, determining whether resource expenditures and utilization are adequate and appropriate. Balance the priorities and be open to redesigning functions and processes thoughtfully. Create and implement human resource metrics for use in decision-making and problem-solving throughout the institution;
  • Work with the senior leaders of Fordham University—the President, Vice Presidents, Provost, Deans, Chief Diversity Officer, and other leaders—to increase the university’s ability to recruit and retain faculty and staff through best practices, competitive benefits and compensation, talent development, and a continued commitment to diversity;
  • Build a highly competent and agile Human Resources Department, characterized by a deep customer-service orientation, strong morale, and the highest standards of ethics and integrity; and
  • Promote the utilization of technology and efficient business practices to deliver data, service, and support to a range of constituencies in support of Fordham’s educational mission and vision.

Qualifications and Experience

The successful candidate will have extensive human resources leadership experience at an executive level. The candidate must also have demonstrated success and knowledge of current human resources best practices, extensive experience in organizational behavior, employee relations, compensation, benefits and employee development, a commitment to diversity, a record of success in managing organizational change, talent recruitment, development and retention; the ability to foster innovative and creative problem solving, strong listening and communication skills, a presence that engenders trust, confidence and respect, and the ability to lead by influence and example. The candidate’s open engagement with and commitment to contributing to the Jesuit, Catholic dimensions of Fordham University’s mission are of great importance.

In addition, the next CHRO will possess the following abilities, attributes, and experiences:

  • Strong knowledge of human resource functions and technology, including extensive experience in organizational behavior, employee relations, compensation, benefits and employee development;
  • Commitment to diversity and inclusion and a record of promoting it;
  • Strong analytical and critical thinking skills, and the ability to organize, analyze, summarize, and effectively tailor and present initiatives to a diverse group of constituents;
  • Experience leading system-wide and expansive talent recruitment and retention initiatives. Success in building a “best in class” talent management and development process which actively invests in high-potential talent identified through a disciplined performance management and succession planning process;
  • Demonstrated track record leading, implementing, and communicating large-scale change management initiatives in complex organizations;
  • A record of attracting, mentoring and retaining high-quality talent and building vibrant, empowered teams from ambitious, individual contributors;
  • Unparalleled personal integrity, ethics, and initiative. Strong commitment and passion to lead ongoing organizational transformation;
  • Strong listening and communication skills; a presence that earns trust, confidence and respect; and the ability to lead by influence and example; and

A bachelor’s degree is required, and a master’s or other advanced degree is preferred. Also required is a minimum of 10 years of progressively responsible human resources management and leadership experience, with significant time spent at the senior management or executive level, preferably in an academic setting at a similarly complex institution. Final candidates will be required to complete a background check successfully.

Please send applications (resume and letter of interest) and nominations to Liz Neumann and Amy Sugin at Neumann Executive Search Partners at

Fordham University is committed to excellence through diversity and welcomes candidates of all backgrounds. Fordham is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

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