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Kansas Wesleyan University

Becky Mathews is the one of the first people faculty and staff see on campus.

As the director of human resources, she wears a lot of hats.

“I’m kind of like a one-stop shop,” Mathews said. “I deal with all hirings, all benefits administration, all training administration. Policies that are new to the university or revised to the university run through my office – among others – on the way to the approval level of the president and board.”

Every hiring process starts with her, officially.

When the university has an opening, the supervisor sends documentation to Mathews. She posts it to the KWU website and other websites that the university has accounts with. Applicant information comes to her, and she sends it on to the hiring manager.

Graduate assistants and federal and institutional work-study students also go through her office.

She’s also the compliance officer and the benefit administrator.

“Once an applicant is chosen, all conversation is with me,” Mathews said, because she completes the pre-employment paperwork. “I know everyone who works here. I have to see everyone at least once.”

Potential employees learn about the compensation and benefits package in a session or two with Mathews.

“Any special training we have to do to be in compliance (with federal and state regulations), I assign all of that and I monitor that,” she said.

That includes Title IX and security training.

If that seems like a lot for one person to keep track of, Mathews said, she has done parts of this job in previous positions, but, “This is the first time I’ve been all-inclusive.”

Mathews worked for public school systems for 10 years, seven years in California and three in Kansas, before coming to KWU in October 2019.

“Because I’ve dealt with bits and pieces throughout my work journey, I knew what I needed,” she said. “If I didn’t know specifically what I needed to do, I knew where to go to find it.”

In one way, her journey has reached a destination.

She and her family moved to Salina in 2015, from the high desert area of California. Her husband is an ex-Marine, so they bounced around a bit for a while, she said. He works now for a company headquartered in Salina.

Her youngest son graduated from KWU in May.

Mathews expects Salina will be home.

“It’s a little bit slower, the people are nicer — not as much road rage as you get in California,” she said of Kansas. “The pace is nicer, and the cost of living is much less compared with California.”

Moving from an office to a university has presented a few challenges.

“When I first started here, I thought I was never going to remember all of these people,” she said. “It didn’t take me any time at all. When I hit the two-year mark, it was like light bulbs going off. Everything started making sense, everything started clicking.”

“I took what was already in place and was able to improve on it,” she said.

“It definitely has been an adventure.”

Story by Jean Kozubowski