California State University, Long Beach
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Torres Recognized Twice

Published: November 16, 2015

Nancy Torres, CSULB’s director of Staff Human Resources, was recognized twice for excellence by the Professionals in Human Resources Association (PIHRA), a Southern California-based human resources professional organization, in an overall award and a district award at the 2015 Human Resources Annual Conference recently held in Anaheim.

The Human Resources Award of Excellence, both at the Long Beach district and overall levels, was presented to Torres in recognition of her professionalism, her accomplishments and her career impact. Specifically, criteria included professional experience, accomplishments and participation in organizations, community service, mentoring, strategic impact, educational practice and published materials.

“I was very surprised when I got the call about the nominations,” said Torres, who joined the university in 2012. “I didn’t expect it at all. I’ve been a member of the Professionals in Human Resources Association for about 30 years. When I got the email, I thought it was a hoax. I wasn’t sure if I should reply so I let it sit in my in-box for several days. Then I got the call.”

The PIHRA determined that its member districts would submit one winner for the HR Excellence Award. Then the district winners were discussed and an overall winner selected.

Torres’ responsibilities include recruitment and oversight of emergency, intermittent or casual hires. Also under her supervision are employee relations, classification and compensation, training and development as well as recognition programs. “There is a wide breadth of activities going on,” she said.

One reason Torres feels she was recognized was her long record of offering CSULB students the chance to work inside human resources.

“It is their chance to determine if this is really something they want to do,” she said. “Most of the students I have worked with, I brought on as interns or student assistants. They came on with an interest in human resources and almost all of them have gone on to be very successful and stayed in human resources. Some have learned that human resources is not the professional fit for them, which is a valuable lesson to learn.”

One of the appeals of her position is her chance to influence many disciplines.

“I enjoy having the opportunity to touch a variety of areas,” she said. “This position offered that opportunity. In addition to that, my background is predominantly in organizations that have unions and collective bargaining agreements. This position offered the chance to stay in labor relations and do the kind of work which I really enjoy.”

Torres needs a particular skill set for her job. “From the people side, it is about being respectful. There is no course you can take that teaches you to be compassionate,” she said. “It is important to understand we have all gone through hard times. We all have needed someone to show us the right path.”

Nancy Torres (l) with Janet Vreeland, chair of PIHRA’s Long Beach Chapter.
Nancy Torres (l) with Janet Vreeland, chair of PIHRA’s Long Beach Chapter.

Torres is encouraged by this year’s bigger budget.

“This revival of state funding is a very good sign,” she said. “After a long period of no pay increases, staff members left and were not replaced, when there were work furloughs, the state, the community and the campus have survived. When I first arrived in 2012, orientation was being held once a month for five or six people. Now we have orientation three times a month and, in the most recent meeting, the conference room would not have held all the people who needed orientation. Those are great signs.”

It’s easy for Torres to see why a position at CSULB is so desirable. “We are the flagship campus for the CSU. We have a great reputation,” she said. “It is a telling sign when people stay here. When you sit down to dinner with friends, and you get the chance to talk about where you work, people make positive remarks. Those are the things that attract people here. There is no better advertisement than our staff.”

Torres earned her B.A. in sociology from Cal State Fullerton and her MBA from National University. She also earned a human resources certificate from UC Irvine as well as a certification through the Society for Human Resources Management as a Senior Professional in Human Resources.

Right up there with her awards is the satisfaction Torres takes in her university.

“This is the kind of place where staff members stay 40 years. There are multigenerational employees. There are people who came here as freshmen and never left. This is where they made their careers and retired. That is such an acknowledgement of the quality of this organization,” she said. “Graduation is another highlight. I am a first-generation university graduate and I remember the difference it made to my family when I crossed that stage. It is such a proud moment. It is great to be part of that.”