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Gordon Barger takes over as director at Benefit Services

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John Carberry
Gordon Barger
Patrick Shanahan/University Photography
Gordon Barger, Cornell's new senior director of Benefit Services and Administration.

Gordon Barger, associate chief human resources officer for the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MMA), was appointed Cornell’s senior director of Benefit Services and Administration in mid-December.

Barger succeeded Paul Bursic, who retired from Cornell after leading Benefit Services for about 20 years.

“Gordon brings an impressive background in the development and implementation of benefits plans that will help build on our already robust benefits offerings,” said Mary G. Opperman, Cornell vice president and chief human resource officer. “He is an effective communicator who enjoys working with faculty and staff to help them better navigate through their benefits options and the challenges that life presents. I look forward to working with Gordon as we look to the future, listen to our faculty and staff, and work to make our benefits and programs even more effective for them.”

During Barger’s 10 years at the MMA, he created a five-year strategic health care plan, designed and implemented a retirement program improvement project, implemented Workday HR/Finance, and led several initiatives focused on enhancing the delivery of HR services, as well as in compensation and other HR areas. Previously, Barger led the benefits and compensation operations at Columbia University, was an adjunct faculty member at City University European Programs, and held roles as assistant manager for benefits systems at New York University and New York University Medical Center.

Barger intends to build on the strong benefits package and service-oriented team of benefits professionals Bursic has created.

“This is a very strong program with a strong team,” Barger said. “Part of my job will be to think about new perspectives, new ways of communicating, so that faculty and staff are more engaged in their benefits choices year-round.”

Barger plans to spend time meeting Cornell faculty and staff.

“I want to see staff and faculty in their work environment, see what their days are like,” he said. “That will help me better understand how the various benefits we offer fit together and can enhance their lives.”

He says his work at the museum helped him hone his communication and “big picture” strategy skills and better understand how to bring together people with diverse perspectives and needs. He said he is glad to return to the collaborative, problem-solving world of higher education that he knew at Columbia and New York University, and in his undergraduate and graduate days as a psychology major at Central Michigan University and New School for Social Research.

“I am very much looking forward to joining the amazing community that is Cornell, to once again be a part of the university world and the special people that have shaped my life and career,” he said. “It will also be exciting to further explore the campus, Ithaca and the surrounding regions. I truly feel like I’m ‘coming home.’”

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Nancy Doolittle