The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Editorial: Problematic interim contract for the UI

As the upcoming academic year approaches, while preparing itself to operate under interim President Jean Robillard, the University of Iowa will also have some key positions that need filling.

For the role of vice president for Strategic Communications, the university has hired an outside consultant for six months. With the current two senior directors in the Strategic Communications having been in those positions less than a year, an outside hiring certainly makes sense.

It does not make sense, however, to pay this new consultant $145,000 for six months of a three- days-a-week work.

According to the The Daily Iowan, three vice president-level positions need filling: Strategic Communications, Finance and Operations, and Human Resources. Currently, UI officials fill the other two positions on interim bases.

Jeneane Beck, the UI senior director for news-me-dia relations, said incoming interim UI President Jean Robillard selected Terri Goren for the communications position because she had previously done work for UI in 2007.

In DI reporting Tuesday, Fraser Seitel, president of the public-relations firm Emerald Partners and former director of public affairs for Chase Man- hattan Bank, had some interesting comments, particularly when referring to the salary of com- munications or public-relations directors for state institutions. He said, “If the salary is way out of whack, the obvious question would be, why is our communications director so much more important than the one in Missouri or Nebraska?”

It is true that, momentarily ignoring the three- day workweek and the six-month time span,

Goren’s compensation is by no means “way out of whack” when compared with other institutions. It is, nevertheless, in the upper-echelon of communi- cations directors’ salaries in the Big Ten.

However, the DI Editorial Board feels it cannot ignore the three-day-per-week aspect of this con- tract. Taken into account, and the most important comparison with the salary of former VP for Stra- tegic Communications Joe Brennan, this compensation begins to look a bit more extreme.

According to the DI, this year Brennan earned an annual salary of $226,600 plus travel expenses. Taking these things into consideration, there are some ob- vious question lingers: Why is Goren earning $30,000 more in a six-month span than Brennan would have in that same span for a five-day workweek?

There is little arguing with Robillard’s decision to select an individual with a great deal of experience during this time of transition. In the coming months, there will be several important announcements made by the UI. An outside hiring when senior-level officials in the department are less than one year in- to their respective positions is the right move.

However, handling communications and public relations in a time of transition ought to be part of the job description for such a director.

In the past few years, transparency of public in- stitutions and large businesses has been a major issue around the country — and UI has certainly not been immune. The most important aspect of this transparency is the proper handling of press releases and media interactions. In order to justify an increase in compensation of more than $2.00 per student for this position, there may be a deeper underlying reason beyond a period of transition.

More to Discover