On June 1, 2016, USI got a new executive director for Human Resources. Andrew Lenhardt previously served as the director of human resources and as the affirmative action and equal opportunity officer Title IX deputy coordinator for Indiana University East in Richmond, Indiana. Prior to that, he was the associate/assistant director of Human Resources for Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He succeeds Donna Evinger, who is retiring after more than 10 years of service to the University.
I was curious to know a bit more about our new HR director. What does he do for fun? What’s his favorite dessert? You know, important stuff. And here are his answers. Let’s get to know Andrew Lenhardt.
Tell us a few things you’d like us to know about you.
When I play golf, I don’t want folks to see my swing, so I make everyone turn the other direction when I tee off.
I took toy collecting rather seriously when I was younger. I was able to amass a fairly impressive collection of G.I. Joes, WWE figures and International Harvester toys.
I try to get to a Comic-Con once a year.
I have a rescued Yorkie named Duke. His personality is as large as his name might sound.
I did my first solo skydive when I was 21 years old. Skydiving is one of those things that can’t really be explained; you just have to try it. There’s nothing like flying through the fresh air and being able to see for miles. I’ve jumped several times since.
What drew you to the University of Southern Indiana?
The people. It’s an organization based on respect, dignity, support and creating a welcoming environment. The fact that there have only been three presidents in 50 years is pretty amazing. The search committee members were great ambassadors for the University.
During my research, a few things caught my eye: Archie’s Food Closet, the employee picnic (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was my favorite theme) and the more than $40 million in new or renovated space within the past few years. I could imagine working here, seeing the growth of the campus, taking pride in the institution and being in a place that’s really thriving.
What are some of the crucial elements needed to serve as a human resources director?
You have to be nimble and open to an engaging culture. Our work involves positioning Human Resources to always be thinking ahead – forecasting future needs – not only in terms of how new technology can enhance service delivery, but also in forecasting the need for well-trained staff with the skills to effectively support the organization. Just because something has always been done the same way, doesn’t mean we need to continue to do so.
Those of us in administrative roles look for opportunities that come by making connections across areas of the University. In order to do this job well, you have to know what the faculty and staff are thinking and what they are thinking about in terms of where we should go. It’s our responsibility to connect people and ideas and to bring them together. Be mindful, especially to the staff that reports to you. Human Resources often sets precedence for other departments to follow, and we have to be mindful of a work/life balance.
What activities do you enjoy during leisure time?
I love movies, music and food. One of my favorite things to do is visit the farmer’s market on a Saturday. I also enjoy attending sporting events, as well as my daily fitness fix – riding my bike and lifting weights help me refocus and re-energize. And, I love getting together with all of my friends and family.
If you could wake up tomorrow having gained one quality or ability, what would it be?
The ability to speak every language. I could travel the world and find hidden gems only locals would know about.
Do you have a childhood memory that makes you smile every time you think of it? Could you share it?
First and foremost, the love and support of my parents brings a constant smile. They encouraged me in every way and means possible. Additionally, something I never appreciated sufficiently at the time, was growing up in such a naturally beautiful area as the Mississippi river bottoms in Southern Illinois. Being encouraged to go four-wheeling, swimming and bailing hay on my grandfather’s farm were opportunities I’m extremely grateful for. There is no better smell than a field of freshly cut alfalfa hay.
What is your motto in life?
One thing I always say to my employees is, “Do what’s right, not what’s easy.” I also try to bring a sense of optimism. We all need to be reminded from time to time what’s possible with a little hard work and some elbow grease.
When you have a sweet tooth, what do you crave?
As much as I love German chocolate cake or chocolate meringue pie, it’s my grandmother’s holiday sugar cookies that cannot be replicated. Self-control can be an issue, so it’s a good thing these homemade cookies are baked once a year.
Photo Credit: Provided
Andrew Lenhardt (left) with his father watching Notre Dame play USC.