The department of Human Resources at ISU is responsible for the recruitment and hiring of all full-time, benefited positions on campus. This includes all faculty and staff. While the process varies significantly depending on the position being filled, one major change has been made to the whole of its hiring practice.
Mandatory background checks were not part of the university’s hiring policy until partway through this academic year.
October 2016 was the implementation date of this policy according to Brian Sagendorf, Director of Human Resources.
There are generally two types of full-time employees at ISU, classified and non-classified.
Because ISU is a state institution, a portion of its employees are predetermined by the state of Idaho. These are classified employees and they encompass approximately one-third of full-time positions at the university.
These types of positions are shared by most other state agencies.
Non-classified employees fill positions that, according to Sagendorf, are more unique to the specific agency.
In the case of higher education institutions, those typically include positions such as faculty and coaches.
The hiring process for these jobs is in the hands of the university and is less controlled by the state.
Instead of submitting a request for applicants to the state, the university itself announces the position and does all of the screening.
This process begins with HR sorting all applications received and eliminating those that do not meet the minimum requirements.
The remaining applicants are then given to a search committee that consists mainly of individuals inside the college or department that the position is in.
However, it is not uncommon to have those outside of the college, or even the university, in that search committee depending on the position.
This committee conducts interviews, contacts references and selects a candidate to whom it would like to extend an offer to the hiring authority, usually the dean of the college.
While a great deal of deference is given to this committee because, “They are the subject matter experts,” Sagendorf said, “We definitely want to make clear the search committee is not a decision-making body, they are a recommending body.”
Until the new background check policy was established it was the responsibility of these committees to do the vetting of candidates via contacting references.
ISU now contracts with HireRight, a company that independently conducts background checks.
“This just expanded the consistency and really helped us with better practice,” Sagendorf said. “Really giving us more opportunity to insure safety, security of employees and students on campus and better security for the assets of the university.”
Earlier this month Tyler Liddle, a former ISU employee, was charged with felony embezzlement for misuse of public funds.
“The policy was going into place well before any recent incidents came to light,” Sagendorf said.
HireRight searches for criminal backgrounds among other things, such as employment history, educational degrees, credentials and identity.
All job offers made by the university include a clause that employment is conditional on a successful background check.
A criminal history does not immediately disqualify a candidate from being hired at ISU, which is outlined in ISU Policy #3170. “A prior criminal conviction does not automatically disqualify an applicant from employment, promotion, transfer, or a volunteer position. The criminal history will be evaluated for relevance to the specific position responsibilities.”
The timeline of when the crime was committed, circumstances and if it pertains to duties of the position are all things that are considered if a criminal background is discovered.
A letter addressing the applicant’s criminal history and how they are willing to work with the university is sent to the individual by Human Resources a part of the evaluation process.