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Liberty art students craft figures to signify university’s transition to paperless HR process

The two figures made out of P-1 forms by Liberty art students (Photos by Joel Coleman)

Liberty University’s Human Resources Department sent their old paperwork process flying last month. In commemoration of its shift to paperless operations, the department enlisted the help of studio & digital arts (SADA) students to create life-size figures symbolically sending paper airplanes and crumbles into the trash.

Countless personnel action forms (often referred to as P-1s) have been used by the university for decades, but with the transition to the new HR digital platform Workday, the paper forms of the past will been scrapped starting in January 2023.

“We’ve used it for everything from hiring people, address changes, transferring people. This one form has effectively captured most of an employee’s time at Liberty,” said Steve Foster, Executive Vice President of Human Resources. “To be an organization like ours that has a multibillion-dollar endowment still using the antiquated method of paper, this was a really great moment for us to be shifting over to modern technology, and we are collectively very excited about it.”

Workday will allow the personnel processes to be quicker and more organized in the digital format. It will also become the university’s online timecard system, replacing ADP TimeSaver.

Looking for a humorous sendoff, Foster walked through the halls of the School of Communication & the Arts on the other side of Marie F. Green Hall and saw the full-size cast of characters from movies and television that art students had created with packing tape. He asked SADA chair Todd Smith if his students could craft a physical representation of the occasion.

“We wanted it to represent the end of the P-1, the end of using paper, but we also wanted to make fun of it as well,” Foster said.

Smith enlisted the help of a dozen students from his sculpting courses, and the team spent time throughout the fall semester to craft two figures, a male and a female, out of packing tape, plastic wrap, and roughly 10,000 P-1s to create the figures fashioned as HR employees. While the male employee is releasing a paper airplane, the female is depositing a scrap pile into a trash bin already brimming with P-1s.

“The students were familiar with the packing tape sculptures, and many of them had made one of their own already,” Smith said. “It was a great way to build community among the students and create a sculpture in a real-world context.”

Executive Vice President of Human Resources Steve Foster speaks during the unveiling on Nov. 16

On Nov. 16, Foster invited employees to create their own paper airplanes and join him in the lobby of the HR office for a surprise unveiling of the figures and ceremonial launch of their own paper airplanes toward the bin.

“It’s a huge moment for Liberty — not just the HR department — and we’re so excited,” Foster said. “It’s been four years in the making, my staff have been working so hard to make this happen. It’s been a huge collective effort, and this new technology is going to have a huge impact on how Liberty does business with its employees.”

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