Distinguished Professional, Administrative, and Technical Staff Award
Assistant Director, Human Resources for Benefits and Employee Relations
Beagle rescuer/Avid walker/Polka dancer
There aren’t many people on campus who don’t know Carol Kuzdeba. From the time she joined human resources in 1992, Kuzdeba has been one of the first people most new employees meet during their first days and weeks at PSU.
As assistant director of human resources for benefits and employee relations, a large portion of Kuzdeba’s time is devoted to reviewing the University’s benefits package with faculty and staff. “People sometimes ask me ‘Do you ever get tired of doing benefit overviews?’” Kuzdeba says. “I don’t. I love what I do—I get to meet new people and talk about a benefits package that’s easy to brag about.”
But meeting with new employees for benefits reviews is just one facet of Kuzdeba’s work. Another is managing employee relations—from simply listening to an employee who needs a confidant to collaborating with an employee and a supervisor to develop a performance improvement plan. Kuzdeba appreciates PSU’s approach to employee relations, which she characterizes as “respectful and humane. If someone is having a difficult time in their position, we do all we can to get them back on track.”
While she loves what she does, a career in human resources was not in Kuzdeba’s plan. A member of the Plymouth State class of 1971, she earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and taught for six years in the Nashua area. One of the highlights of her teaching career was cofounding the first after school care program in New Hampshire elementary schools. She helped direct the program for three years before making a career change to human resources—a change prompted by her need for health care benefits.
Her first human resources position was at a large company in Nashua. “I loved the company,” she says. “They trained me in human resources and financed my master’s degree in counseling.” But when a merger resulted in mass layoffs, it fell to Kuzdeba to deliver the news to employees. “For two years, that was my job—laying people off.”
Wanting a more positive work environment, Kuzdeba looked at numerous human resources positions, including the one she ultimately accepted at Plymouth State. She credits her long tenure to PSU’s close-knit community. “I love the people,” she says.“When you work in a place that has 11,000 employees, you don’t get to know them like you can here.”
Over the years, Kuzdeba’s love of people, coupled with her experience in teaching and counseling, has earned her the trust and admiration of her colleagues. For Kuzdeba, that is a reward in itself. “My work gives me the opportunity to listen to, understand, and help people,” she says. “It’s not just about relaying policy; it’s about connecting with people.”