P&S Council defines its commitment to antiracism, inclusiveness

Suspending its rules in order to hold two required readings on the same day, the Professional and Scientific (P&S) Council June 25 unanimously approved a motion to define the council's antiracist efforts to strengthen campus equity, diversity and inclusion. The council's executive committee presented the motion in light of "historic, recent and ongoing acts of anti-Black racism, police brutality and violence committed against citizens and in particular Black people and communities of color."

In addition to denouncing acts of racism, discrimination and violence; standing up for marginalized individuals and communities, and supporting university leadership and its statements denouncing racism, police brutality and violence against community members of color, by its motion the council commits to:

  • Provide educational programming for P&S employees that engages them in conversations on topics such as implicit bias, whiteness, racism, marginalization and inclusion, particularly through its seminar series and annual professional development conference.
  • Work to establish policies and procedures that are "more actively antiracist."
  • Promote and encourage participation in campus conversations, workshops and other programming offered by the office of the vice president for diversity and inclusion to challenge individual prejudices and biases.
  • Seek to place the council's vice president for equity and inclusion on the vice president for diversity and inclusion's council in an official capacity in order to strengthen the relationship and work between the two.
  • Invite the ISU chief of police at least annually to present a summary of the police division's work in order to update and educate council members about the work it does.

Fall strategy

Vice president for extension and outreach John Lawrence, who chairs the fall planning committee that meets daily, said the university's overall strategy for fall has three components:

  • Campus plans for testing -- and contact tracing and case management in the cases of employees or students who test positive for COVID-19 to reduce the spread.
  • Reduce the campus footprint. For students, that means moving larger classes online and reducing classroom capacity to 50% for in-person classes. Work has begun in classrooms to physically create the space needed for distancing between students. For employees, it means greater flexibility on work-from-home options.
  • Personal responsibility for preventing the spread of the virus, as outlined in the new "Cyclones Care" behavior campaign. It includes four pieces: self-monitor for symptoms and stay home if you're sick; wear cloth face coverings, respect physical distancing and avoid large crowds, and personal hygiene (yourself and your work space). Lawrence said the city of Ames also will use the "Cyclones Care" messages for reinforcement around the community.

In response to a question about enforcing the face covering requirement, Lawrence said it will be important for student leaders to carry the message and get their peers to buy in and participate. While there may be supplies of disposable face coverings in classrooms for one-time needs, he said a process will be needed for "repeat offenders" among both students and employees.

P&S classification/compensation update

Director of classification and compensation Emma Mallarino Houghton, university human resources, walked council members through implementation updates on the P&S class/comp project website. The title review process began June 29, when all P&S employees received their job profiles in the new system via email. Employees, or their managers on their behalf, have until Friday, July 24, to submit an online request for title review -- only if they believe their job assignment is inaccurate.

Following resolution of all title review requests, the new P&S classification/compensation system takes effect Aug. 30. Mallarino Houghton said resources related to the compensation part of the new system will be added to the project website before then.

She said the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires the university to consider the law's provisions whenever job titles are reviewed, and the office of university counsel reviewed all job profiles as part of the class/comp project. FLSA protects employees in the areas of minimum wage and overtime pay. University counsel's review identified 69 job profiles (out of 588 in the new P&S system) as nonexempt. This impacts approximately 400 employees, she said. P&S employees also may request a job title review on the basis of their FLSA exemption status.

For newly nonexempt P&S employees, salary and benefits don’t change. They become eligible for overtime pay on Aug. 30, which requires timekeeping.

Mallarino Houghton said her staff is working with the provost and research offices to determine principal investigator (PI) status in the new jobs classification system. PI status no longer will be tied to pay grade, but to jobs series -- for both automatic approval and approval via an exception. Guidelines will be shared in the coming weeks, she said.

Other reports

  • Senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert presented highlights from his June 17 memo to employees in the academic affairs division on plans for fall instruction. In a variety of formats, he said faculty and instructors will teach more than 7,000 courses this fall.
  • In her report, chief information officer Kristen Constant said IT services' work in response to the COVID-19 pandemic falls into two general categories: supporting students and teaching and learning (examples include technology for hybrid classes, Canvas templates, scanning system to record which students picked up cloth face coverings), and supporting health (examples include strengthening outdoor wireless to promote social distancing, data management for contact tracing, security for COVID-19 campus testing).

Scheduling notes

  • The annual CYtation Awards breakfast, honoring 18 individual and three team recipients and originally scheduled for March, is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 3 (7-9 a.m., Alumni Center).
  • The next council meeting is scheduled for Thursday, July 9 (2:10-4 p.m. via Webex)