Faculty, P&S staff leaders make compensation pitch to regents

Preceding its review and approval of university salary policies in June, the state Board of Regents heard comments April 7 from representatives of employee groups not covered by a collective bargaining agreement. Iowa State presenters were Faculty Senate president Andrea Wheeler, architecture; and P&S Council president Chris Johnsen, extension and outreach. Below are excerpts from their comments.


Andrea Wheeler, president of the Faculty Senate

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"Faculty have worked tirelessly for the past two years. They have demonstrated goodwill to the university and a wealth of care for their students. Despite personal obligations -- family commitments, children at home, and elderly parents to shield and protect -- faculty continued to uphold the importance of the educational achievement of students, Iowa residents, to ensure the greater life opportunities that education brings."

"Faculty support the great State of Iowa. Graduating students support its businesses, its start-ups and its young entrepreneurs and innovators. The overall economic situation is not bad in Iowa. So, when I tell you, you need to recognize what faculty do, what they really do, I mean recognize through proper reward and proper salary increase what they contribute to the greatness of the State. Iowa State is losing both its competitiveness and the goodwill of faculty."

"Unless we can build, support and reward, Iowa State will experience a silent drain of the investment it has made in the development of its young faculty. And it will lose great faculty, those who have benefitted from investment: First-generation women advancing in their careers, underrepresented faculty and those with leadership aspirations. Without a commitment to salary increases, Iowa State will lose this year, and each further year, those who have ensured the continued education of Iowa residents during this pandemic and helped maintain the national and international reputation of our institution."

"Our new strategic plan aspires to a flourishing body of faculty, staff and students. But without proper salary increases, proper plans, agreed rewards, this plan will not succeed. The disengagement of faculty, the outward flow of excellence, this slow bleed, will harm not only the wellbeing of Iowa State University, but the educational resources of the great State of Iowa."


Chris Johnsen, president of the Professional and Scientific Council

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"The majority of my constituents that I have been elected to represent, from the largest employee group at Iowa State, know the work they do for Iowa State University is valued. I see it every day from our senior administration and leaders throughout campus. And most importantly -- from our student population.

"A senior leader shared with me a conversation they had with a collection of students who were asked, in the midst of the pandemic and shortly after a derecho ripped its way through Iowa, "How are you making it through all of this?" The resounding answer was, 'It's the staff.' When I heard this, I could not help but feel emotional. Many of us have taken on additional roles of counselors and mental health advocates that, while valued, add weight to many of our shoulders."

"While my primary mission here today is a salary statement, I do not believe we can separate the discussion of salary and benefits any longer. How else can we attract and retain employees? We must evolve and be responsive to keep pace with our industry counterparts; to keep our professional and scientific jobs attractive to quality talent. We have implemented a flexible work program. Perhaps for some, a fully remote work position will become a reality. Perhaps improvements will be made to adoption benefits? Establishing paternity leave?"

"I am here today asking for your support as Iowa State University continues to reimagine its future. Support innovative ways we can reward high performing individuals, support additional benefits to recruit and retain quality employees, and support evolving methods to allow for meaningful, annual raises."

"I am proud to say -- we will [still] succeed. We believe in our senior administration, our regents and ourselves. We've leaned on and supported one another in ways we did not imagine possible. We continue to provide incredible value to Iowa State University and the State of Iowa."