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Laurita Thomas named to top human resource post


Laurita Thomas has been selected as the University's associate vice president and chief human resource officer, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Timothy Slottow announced Feb. 18.
(Photo by BMC Media)

Currently the administrator of human resources and director of allied health education in the U-M Health System, Thomas is expected to begin her new duties April 1, pending approval by the Board of Regents. Her selection is the result of a competitive national search.

"I am extremely gratified that the strongest candidate from such a broad and thorough search was already within our community," Slottow said. "Her record demonstrates an impressive and consistent understanding of human resources and how to put that knowledge to work in an environment that values diversity and recognizes the crucial roles of faculty and staff in our overall success. I am confident that our community will continue to benefit from Laurita's proven expertise."

Slottow points to Thomas's long history of contributions since first joining the U-M staff in 1972. "Her path is virtually a blueprint of the kinds of career development opportunities available at the University," he said.

While a student at Michigan, Thomas's first job was as a diploma clerk in the Office of the Registrar. After graduating, she held a variety of human resources appointments. She has been responsible for compensation, labor relations, employment, affirmative action, and education and development, advancing steadily through the ranks at the University.

Thomas is a recognized leader in human resources at Michigan and throughout the country, and she is a leader who takes the time to create opportunities for others along the way, Slottow said.

Since 1998, Thomas has been responsible for planning and directing the operations of Health System Human Resources. She also currently leads the Occupational Health Programs, the Program for Multicultural Health, and U-M Hospitals and Health Centers Child Care Center and the Office of Allied Health Education. She has held national positions of leadership in the human resources field, and is actively involved in community service organizations in Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County.

"I am honored, excited and enthusiastic about the opportunity to serve the University and the community in a new role," Thomas said. "I am passionate about contributing to our excellence by leading through partnerships for world-class human resource service, and creating work environments that unleash the potential of people. Together, with the talented staff of HRAA, we will further the vision of HR as a strategic partner and support the many priority initiatives already underway."

Thomas will replace Barbara Butterfield, who retired at the end of December. Gloria Hage—associate vice president and deputy general counsel in the Office of the General Counsel—is serving in the HR position on an interim basis.

As chief human resource officer, Thomas will be responsible for all aspects of the University's central human resource operation and its partnerships with the University's academic and business units. This includes activities and programs for recruitment and retention, benefits, employee relations, training and development, work/life balance and employee assistance, human resource information services, and institutional equity.

"I have no doubt that Laurita will transition to her new role seamlessly," said Dr. Robert Kelch, executive vice president for medical affairs. "She will add tremendous value to the University as a whole, just as she has for the Health System."

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