History of the MHR

The MHR program began in 1967 and continues to evolve after four decades of success. It was originally titled as the Master of Arts in Industrial Relations (MAIR), and housed in the Economics Department of the Business School, and was first listed in the UC catalog for academic year 1967-68. The MAIR program evolved from the courses in industrial relations and economics taught by full-time faculty members in the Department of Economics prior to 1967: Dr. Edward Herman, Dr. Howard Leftwich, Dr. Gordon Skinner, Dr. Freemen Suagee, and Dr. Alfred Kuhn. The MAIR degree was later listed in the Arts & Sciences Catalog for the 1969-70 academic year. In 1985, Dr. Philip Way joined the faculty of the Department of Economics. He was instrumental in changing the name of the MAIR program to the Master of Arts in Labor and Employment Relations (MALER) in the 1988-89 academic year in order to reflect the increasing emphasis on human resource (HR) management as contrasted with labor relations.

The Program's curriculum has changed markedly over the years to reflect the transformations taking place in the profession. Initially, the curriculum stressed labor relations, collective bargaining, labor economics, the history of trade unions, and labor relations legislation, such as the Wagner, Taft-Hartley, and Landrum Griffin Acts. As the original field of industrial relations broadened to include human resources, new courses such as Human Resource Management, Staffing, Employee Development and Training, and Diversity were added. The rapid development in public sector unionization resulted in a course on Public Sector Labor Relations. As new workplace legislation developed, a two-quarter sequence in Employment Law was added, which emphasized areas such as Equal Employment Opportunity and Occupational Health and Safety.

In 2003, Dr. Way oversaw the most extensive curriculum revision in the Program's history. The current program stresses the importance of the strategic aspects of HR management, emphasizes cross-functional thematic courses, and provides students with the option to complete courses in one of two tracks: managerial or strategic. To better reflect these aspects of the curriculum, the Program assumed its present title of Master of Arts in Human Resources (or MHR Program) in December 2008. Earlier in 2003, the Program was transferred from the Department of Economics to the newly established Center for Organizational Leadership, which has proven to be a more suitable and supportive environment. We were fortunate to have Prof. Joseph Gallo as the founding director of the Center, as well as Prof. Harold McCullough, its present academic director. In 2004, Dr. Donna Chrobot-Mason, from the University of Colorado at Denver, joined the faculty as the director of the Program. She instituted several changes to strengthen the quality of the Program, such as making the GRE/GMAT mandatory for admissions, establishing the MHR Mentoring program, and streamlining requirements for the Capstone. She also led the initiative to change to the name of the Program from MALER to MHR in 2008.

Following Dr. Gallo's retirement in January-2009, Prof. Leland Person, senior associate dean for academic affairs at McMicken College of Arts and Sciences served as the interim head of the Center until June-2009. In July-2009, the Center was merged with the Department of Psychology and Dr. Nancy Rogers assumed the directorship of the MHR program.

In mid-2011, the Program began strengthening its association with UC's Carl H. Lindner College of Business (CoB) by establishing an Oversight Committee comprising representatives from both units to facilitate the process of coming under the CoB's AACSB3 accreditation. The CoB is an accredited member of AACSB International. In January 2012, the MHR degree program formally came under the CoB's accreditation. Also, an Advisory Board comprising accomplished alumni of the Program, experts in HR, and leaders from the local community was established to provide advice on curriculum, pedagogy, and to improve community impact.

The Program's student population has changed over the years as well. It started attracting more non-traditional students—older and more professionally experienced, including practicing HR and labor relations managers. This prompted changes in course scheduling with courses being offered in the evenings and on weekends. Over the years the MHR program has graduated a large number of students and many of its alumni currently occupy high positions in both private- and public-sector organizations. The MHR program has a long, successful history and will continue to evolve and grow over time to meet the changing needs and challenges facing the field of Human Resources Management.