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New Human Resources Chief at the Helm

Diane Tucker has 20 years of experience in hospitals, academia

Diane Tucker, Chief Human Resources Officer, Boston University

Diane Tucker started her new job as the chief human resources officer last month. Photo by Cydney Scott

Three juggling balls snuggle on a shelf in Diane Tucker’s office, a splash of primary color in a white-walled space.

“Juggling was the last thing I was taught in graduate school,” says BU’s new chief human resources officer, who is keenly aware of the symbolic significance of the juggling lesson.

Tucker, who has an easy smile and a master’s degree in health administration from Cornell University, now juggles the needs of more than 10,000 employees across the Charles River and Medical Campuses. She was chosen for the job from a field of 60 applicants garnered by a yearlong search with assistance from Korn/Ferry International. University officials say Tucker’s 20 years of HR leadership was one of the things that positioned her above the competition.

“We were impressed with her considerable administrative experience, command of managing a large and complex human resources environment, and her demonstrated success at tackling difficult HR-related issues,” says Peter Fiedler (COM’77), vice president for administrative services.

“Apart from what you read on her résumé, in person she is very impressive in a calm, understated way,” says Todd Klipp, senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary of the BU Board of Trustees. “She is intelligent, articulate, composed, and exudes a quiet confidence that is essential in assuming this very important position.”

Tucker, a native of Lynn, Mass., credits her even-keeled manner to being the middle child among seven siblings.

“There will always be things that come about on a day-to-day basis that raise anxiety,” she says. “My role as a leader is to set a tone within the human resources function, and by extension, influence the broader University.” She says she takes each situation independently, examines the facts, looks for a solution, and implements it. Her mantra is: “You don’t think effectively if you’re not calm.”

For most of the past three years, Tucker was the chief human resources officer at Columbia University Medical Center, an institution comparable in size to BU, but with less than half the operating budget. Before that, from July 2005 to the end of 2009, she was the vice president of human resources at Fidelis Care New York, and from 2002 to 2005, at New York Downtown Hospital. She was also the executive director of human resources at the University of Chicago Hospitals and director of human resources at Mount Sinai Medical Center.

“Diane understands the talk and the walk that we do here at BU,” says Fiedler, who served as interim chief of human resources for the past year after former chief Manuel Monteiro stepped down. “I don’t see it as any problem for her expanding that ability to the larger, more global environment that she will be tackling here.”

Tucker, who started at the University at the end of July, arrives during a complex time for HR. One of her first tasks will be responding to a report issued two years ago by outside consultant Towers Watson that recommends, among other things, restructuring the department to be more effective and customer-friendly. She will review what Fiedler calls the University’s antiquated salary structure and shepherd the continuing implementation of BUworks. While at Mount Sinai, she helped implement technology that transformed services like employee benefits enrollment, and used a case management system for its growing network of hospitals. Tucker also hopes to improve training for employees who assume managerial positions.

“People often get promoted into management roles without really having a background in management, without understanding what they’re expected to do and how to do it,” Klipp says. “And equally as important, understanding the things they should not do, the things they should not say.”

“Education is important to me,” says Tucker. “I believe that for an organization to continue to be competitive and to move up in the world, from a quality and reputation perspective, we need to help people grow in their roles.”

Tucker says she looks forward to settling back in the Boston area, finding a place with a porch and a garden, and hanging around her nieces and nephews more often. That’s another place the juggling lesson will come in handy.

Leslie Friday, BU Today, Boston University
Leslie Friday

Follow Leslie Friday on Twitter at @lesliefriday.

4 Comments on New Human Resources Chief at the Helm

  • timboknows on 08.31.2012 at 10:16 am

    great article! you made me wonder, what color were the juggling balls? on a more serious note, what is ms. tucker’s perspective on the swelling of university administrations in the face of research/teaching faculty retraction?

    • Leslie on 08.31.2012 at 12:09 pm

      Red, blue, and yellow.

  • anon on 09.02.2012 at 10:18 am

    Why are we repeatedly referred to as CUSTOMERS instead of STUDENTS? This is very demeaning

    • re: anon on 09.03.2012 at 4:24 pm

      This article talks about making the Human Resources department more “customer-friendly”, i.e. “user-friendly”. Students are not referred to as customers here nor are they users/customers of HR.

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