Meet Northeastern’s new chief of human resources

Michele Grazulis will serve as the university’s vice president and chief human resources officer. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Northeastern has hired Michele Grazulis to serve as the university’s vice president and chief human resources officer.

Grazulis, who has spent the majority of her career in the healthcare industry, will bring a unique perspective to higher education, says Anthony Rini, vice president for administration and financial planning at Northeastern.

“It was important to us to find a person who was not a traditionalist—someone like Michele who could hit the ground running and understand that we have a unique workforce,” Rini says. “We didn’t want to be bound by the conventional boundaries.”

Northeastern conducted an extensive global search for a human resources leader who could help recruit, develop, and retain talent from a wide variety of backgrounds, says Rini. The idea at Northeastern, the global leader in experiential and lifelong learning, is to make hires from industry, government, and non-governmental organizations, as well as from higher education. 

A priority for Grazulis will be to continue to increase diversity in faculty and staff at the university.

Grazulis will be charged with continuing to develop human resources services and functions throughout Northeastern’s global network, which includes campuses in London, Toronto, Vancouver, Seattle, the Bay Area, and Charlotte, North Carolina; Massachusetts campuses in Boston, Nahant, and Burlington; and the Roux Institute in Portland, Maine. 

Grazulis will lead the implementation of the university’s new human resources information platform, Workday. She will also help identify existing staff talent from underrepresented groups and invest in them, says Rini, so that they feel included and may grow within the organization.

“Michele has experience in that space that I think is going to suit us very well as we diversify our community,” Rini says.

While working at Xerox in Rochester, New York, she moved from sales to human resources, resulting in her 2012 move to Unity Health System as senior vice president of human resources. Following a merger that created Rochester Regional Health System, Grazulis was asked by the new chief executive to become the health system’s lead fundraiser—even though she had never worked in development. The Because Care Matters campaign that Grazulis launched in 2016 was the largest fundraising effort in the history of the health system. 

“What’s really exciting for me is the energy that comes from being in an academic environment where everybody is focused on thinking with agility and thinking about new things,” says Grazulis, who starts on Monday, Sept. 14. “It’s that creativity that I’ve been craving, and it’s what drew me to Northeastern—it’s a university with a lot of compelling leaders.”

Northeastern employs 2,991 faculty, 3,253 staff, and 449 research scientists. 

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