Director of Human Resources, St. Bonaventure University
Allegany, New York
Office Representing: Human Resources
Erik Seastedt has 29 years of professional human resources experience, 14 of which are in higher education. He is currently the human resources director at his alma mater, a small private college called St. Bonaventure University in New York. In this role, Seastedt applies the knowledge he obtained throughout his career to invigorate the human resources function at the university with a focus on advocacy, engagement, and accountability. Seastedt has worked in the public higher education sector as well, including serving as the chief human resources officer for the University of Alaska system and holding positions in human resources management in both Nevada and Wyoming. As the human resources director for a public school system, Seastedt worked to improve labor relations with seven unions. In his first human resources role, which was at a 1,000-employee non-profit organization serving individuals with disabilities, Seastedt helped improve communication within the company and evolve its brand-new human resources function.
How did you first get interested in or involved in higher education issues?
"I started teaching college as an adjunct professor over 30 years ago, and taught over 100 courses in psychology, business, and communications at last count. I saw the issues, opportunities, short comings, and virtues of higher education both through the eyes of my students and as someone on the periphery of the campus culture," Seastedt said. "Wanting to become more of a mainstream advocate and to make more of a difference in the uniqueness that is higher education, I began to explore full-time employment in a collegiate environment. Over the past 14 years in particular, I have explored this amazing higher education culture across four states, (including Alaska,) and even taught a three-credit business course on site in Shanghai, China. What I've learned is that the problems and issues and opportunities are similar no matter the environment and I've learned I always want to be a part of it."
Why did you apply to be a part of the Forward50? What drew you to this opportunity?
"I was initially drawn to the Forward50 by the issues being addressed by this initiative: access, affordability, accountability, and transparency," Seastedt said. "I come from a blue-collar family where I was the first person to attend college. Affordability was always a looming issue along with the accountability to my family of the value of that education. After college, I worked with individuals with disabilities where advocacy to access services and opportunities was a priority of the position. I remained a strong advocate for those freedoms even after moving into human resources. A key lesson I learned in human resources is that transparency creates trust— a lesson especially true at the small colleges where I've worked in which the human resources guy wore a variety of hats. My experiences have given me, I believe, a more comprehensive knowledge of student issues and needs that transcends the experience of most human resources professionals on a more traditional path. I recently returned in an human resources role to the very college that gave me that first degree so long ago, one whose culture regards each and every person as worthy of respect and truly understands that students must always come first in our decisions and plans for the future."
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