Council reviews compensation/benefits draft report

In its annual review of compensation and benefits for professional and scientific (P&S) employees, the P&S Council has recommended a dedicated salary pool not dependent on state or departmental funding and a comprehensive approach to salaries that budgets not only for annual increases but increases necessary for promotion or market competitiveness. The council also recommends an evaluation of the P&S pay grade structure in 2024 and an additional P&S member on the university's employee benefits advisory committee to reflect the distribution of faculty, merit and P&S staff at Iowa State.

The council's compensation and benefits committee members drafted the report, and the full council had its first look at the draft during its April 11 meeting. Changes to the draft and a vote on a final compensation and benefits report are scheduled for the May 16 meeting.

Among other recommendations, the draft calls for:

  • Centralized, one-time discretionary increases that bring all employees to their market level based on experience and proficiency.
  • Supervisor training around a) the importance of competitive pay and advocating for it year-round, not just once a year, and b) best practices for salaries at hire time, including above the first third in the pay grade if the candidate's experience warrants it.
  • Consideration of additional voluntary benefits, for example, insurance for long-term care, short-term disability or pets. The premise is that employee premiums would pay for these options.
  • A review by university human resources to identify departments that systemically underpay their employees (according to market midpoints) and strategies to help them correct this.
  • Quality performance reviews for all employees; consistency in what those look like, including a core skill set; and accountability for supervisors of P&S staff who don't consistently complete meaningful employee reviews.

Committee chair Steve Couchman, university human resources, said the drafters also want to educate P&S employees about factors that impact compensation. For example, the draft report defines costs of labor, living and market, and notes that cost of living is not a variable in compensation decisions at Iowa State. Rather, expected market movement helps set salary policy annually. (The projection estimates that the market will move 2%-3% each year.)

The draft report also notes that, on average, Iowa State P&S salaries were at 96% of the market midpoint in January, down slightly from 99% of the median in 2020.

"This decrease is likely because the university has stayed committed to being market competitive by making shifts to the pay grade structure and properly aligning job profiles to grades based on market shifts," it reads. "However, further action is necessary to address individual employee pay."

March elections

During the annual P&S Council online election March 25-27, 29 employees were elected or reelected to council seats. Their terms, some two-year and some three-year, take effect July 1. The council's governance committee will slot the new councilors into committee assignments by then.

Operations and finance division

  • Kimberly Hope, Reiman Gardens
  • Rachel Jones, procurement
  • Kasi Province, facilities planning and management
  • *Melissa Warg, facilities planning and management

President's division

  • Jordan Curzon, environmental health and safety
  • Stacy Dreyer, ISU Research Park
  • Alan Hulsebus, IT services

Student affairs division

  • *George Loper, Memorial Union
  • Sam Shelton, student wellness
  • *Leah Weeks, residence department

Academic affairs division

  • Chad Arnold, horticulture farm
  • Amy Carver, College of Engineering student services
  • Emily Dougill, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences student services
  • *Paul Easker, Virtual Reality Applications Center
  • Sarah Freestone, student financial aid
  • *Kate Garretson, University library
  • *Taylor Gerdes, chemistry
  • Snow Gray, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences student academic services
  • Sara Harris-Talley, electrical and computer engineering
  • Laura Kilbride, College of Human Sciences student services
  • Steve Kopecky, College of Human Sciences administration
  • *Heidi Nye, Veterinary Diagnostic Lab
  • Deanna Powell, food science and human nutrition
  • Christine Reinders, Ames National Laboratory
  • Brooke Rogers, Bioeconomy Institute
  • *Julieanne Rogowski, Iowa State Online
  • Brian Rowe-Barth, veterinary clinical sciences
  • Adam Wade, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences student academic services
  • Jason Wiegand, Translational Ai Research and Education Center

*incumbent council member