P&S Council takes first look at FY21 salary recommendation

The Professional and Scientific Council would propose a standard performance-based P&S staff pay raise for fiscal year 2021 as high as 2% above inflation, under a recommendation discussed at its Dec. 5 meeting.

The council's plan calls for increasing the salaries of P&S staff who meet performance expectations by at least 0.5% above the rate of inflation. Raises for P&S staff exceeding performance expectations should be at least 1.5-2% above inflation, according to the council's recommendation. Inflation has hovered around 2% for the past three years, based on the federal Consumer Price Index.

"One underlying and indisputable premise is that competitive salaries are essential for the University to effectively carry out its mission on behalf of the people of Iowa," the proposed recommendation states. "A second underlying premise is that the University continues to build buildings and spend money on a wide range of new initiatives, even while P&S employees who are performing at or above expectations are losing purchasing power to inflation."

The council annually submits a salary increase recommendation and a report on compensation and benefits for university administrators to consider as they set budget priorities for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. The council will vote on the recommendation at its Jan. 9 meeting.

The FY21 proposal also calls for offering more professional development training, identifying ways to increase revenue, improving the annual performance review model as suggested last year and maintaining the employee benefits package, "which has been for decades the one bright light in employee compensation," the council's recommendation states.

Acknowledging that its compensation recommendations appear to have little bearing on the eventual decisions, council members discussed how they could make their case more effectively. Council member Barb Wollan, a member of the compensation and benefits committee that prepared the report and recommendation, said the committee tried to stress their views more harshly than in past years.

"We were trying to make clear in the language we used that we're coming to the tipping point," she said.

Council member Tera Lawson said it's important to keep in mind that budget limitations have a real impact, though it shouldn't prevent the council from pushing the issue.

"If we don't put something forward like this, we're not representing our constituents," she said.

Council president-elect Sara Parris said she and council president Amy Ward would add the topic to the next agenda for their monthly meeting with President Wendy Wintersteen, who frequently has said competitive faculty and staff salaries are her top budget priority.

Other business

The council passed a motion in support of building on efforts to make campus a safe and welcoming community. The motion recommends reviewing all employees' engagement in diversity, equity and inclusion efforts as part of their annual performance evaluation.