HR University brings training to the 21st century

By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor

As the workforce changes, human resources needs to change with it. This has been a particular challenge within the federal government. For about the past 10 years, Kathryn Medina explained to Federal News Radio, there has been no “government-wide training in the field of HR, so there has been the need and it has been longstanding.”

To meet that need, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCO) Council, under the leadership of OPM director John Berry and Medina, the CHCO Council’s executive director, the first Federal Human Resources HR University was launched earlier this year.

“In less than a year, we were able to take the concept of HR University and turn it into a reality and go live at the beginning of 2011,” said Medina.


Federal HR, said Medina, is being challenged by everything from performance management issues, hiring reform, getting managers and getting HR staff trained.

“The bigger picture for HR was to elevate the profession and to really focus on human resource professionals and how we build them to be consultants, strategic partners, and really the customer service focus that they need to be able to serve their customers and their agencies. And that’s really the heart of HRU and what we’re trying to accomplish with that,” Medina said.

At the same time, Medina said she’s seen great successes to go along with the challenges, and points to hiring reforms as an example, crediting the CHCO council for driving those initiatives.

“In the time that I’ve been there, under the leadership of Director Berry, the CHCOs are really making things happen, and I don’t think that that was quite the case over the short history of the CHCO Council. I think they’re really just coming into their own and learning how much influence they actually have to get things done.”

Next up for HRU, said Medina, is phase two, launched a month ago, which asks vendors providing HR training for the government to bring their programs to OPM for vetting in order to be able to provide a broader range of courses for training.

Her efforts, as well as those of Director Berry, have earned each of them, individually, a 2011 Causey Award.

In her nomination for the Causey, Medina was credited for doing what work groups and subcommittees could not do, even with 10 years of trying: “developing one resource center designed specifically for the federal government. We have been trying to professionalize the HR community for many years, and now for the first time, we are closer to achieving this goal.”

Medina credits good timing and a great team for the success. Personally, she told Federal News Radio, “I am impressed and amazed every day at the great work that’s going on in the federal government. I’m so proud to be part of HRU and proud to be building the profession from within the federal government.”


Full list of the 2011 Causey Award winners