New division created to focus on employees: Fergus assumes helm as vice president

Robyn Fergus
Robyn Fergus

Robyn Fergus, executive director of Human Resources, has assumed a new role as vice president for Human Resources, creating a new division at Colorado State University solely focused on employees. Fergus will report directly to President Joyce McConnell in her new role, embodying the commitment to strategic workforce development, support and wellness articulated as a Building Block of the university’s Courageous Strategic Transformation.

“I am excited to see Robyn step into this expanded role, because in a short time at CSU, she has distinguished herself as an incredibly talented, responsive leader,” McConnell said. “I’m also excited for our community to see Human Resources elevated to a stand-alone unit, because I think that elevation illustrates our commitment to our employees’ success and wellbeing. That’s something we built into our Courageous Strategic Transformation process from the beginning, and this move will help us make good on that foundational commitment to our people.”

Like many employers, CSU has seen an increase in the scope and intensity of employee needs since the beginning of the COVID pandemic in March 2020. Under Fergus’ leadership, HR has committed to not just meeting those needs but to more intentionally engaging with employees, focusing on promoting a healthy work-life balance and on holistic employee well-being.

As an initial step in creating the new division, Fergus will lead a strategic reorganization of HR to better focus on meeting the strategic needs of supervisors and employees. This work will include identifying and implementing integrated information systems to centralize, simplify and create consistency for important tasks that address an employee’s entire career at CSU, including the hiring process; new employee onboarding; data capture and reporting related to unit and individual employee success; and interventions and resources proven to help employees succeed from the moment they apply to their separation or retirement.

Fergus joined CSU in the summer of 2019 following 16 years with the Denver and Jefferson County school districts, where she worked with K-12 employees. She has also worked as an HR professional in the private sector, including recruiting for national and global companies.

“Robyn has extensive experience as a dynamic HR leader, and she has put her expertise into practice at CSU, including strategies for diversity hiring practices, establishing partnerships, enhancing transparency, designing and implementing efficient systems and processes, and guiding human resources units through change and transformation,” McConnell said.

In 2020, Fergus guided the university workforce through the complexities of public health leave, extended family medical leave, equal pay for equal work initiatives, and creating structures to support employee physical health and well-being. She was instrumental in creating CSU’s teleworking policy in Summer 2021, along with a structure for both bringing employees back to campus offices and finding ways to support remote and flexible work arrangements.

“The pandemic created a stronger human resources community within the university,” Fergus said. “Central Human Resources worked tirelessly to support our employees and the human resources partners for units and divisions across the university. I’m excited to build upon that momentum by further developing ways to support our employees, from the moment they apply for a job until they leave the university. We value our people, and it’s important that our systems are set up to help us support them and build an employee-focused culture.”

The new division’s strategic role in the Courageous Strategic Transformation process begins with the recommendations of the strategic workforce development, support and wellness drafting group, which will be hosting an open forum for the CSU community this Thursday, Nov. 11. Under the auspices of CST, Human Resources is also committing to several specific results-driven efforts on behalf of employees that Fergus says should produce demonstrable positive results within the year. These include an expansion of employee well-being initiatives, the launch of a salary structure and updated classification framework for administrative professional staff, and a focused effort to address salary compression and equity issues and to enhance and align performance management culture for both state classified and administrative professional employees.