UI shared-governance leaders ask regents to consider COVID-19 impact on salaries

University of Iowa Faculty Senate and Staff Council presidents asked the Board of Regents to consider the work of faculty and staff during the COVID-19 outbreak when voting on salary policies for the next fiscal year.

Faculty+Senate+President+Sandra+Daack-Hirsch+speaks+during+the+Faculty+Senate+meeting+on+April+23%2C+2019.

Ryan Adams

Faculty Senate President Sandra Daack-Hirsch speaks during the Faculty Senate meeting on April 23, 2019.

Kelsey Harrell, News Reporter

Faculty representatives from the University of Iowa urged the state Board of Regents to consider the work faculty and staff have done despite COVID-19 outbreak at its virtual meeting Wednesday. 

Representatives from groups of faculty and staff, not organized for the purpose of collective bargaining, were invited to submit remarks to the regents regarding salary policies. UI Faculty Senate President Sandy Daack-Hirsch and UI Staff Council President Michael Weaver submitted letters to the regents.  

Salary policies for fiscal 2021 are expected to be presented to the regents at its June 3-4 meeting. 

Daack-Hirsch highlighted the amount of time faculty members put into their work each week and the recent changes made to the UI’s catastrophic-leave donation policies in her letter. 

“In the midst of the COVID 19 national crisis, it is surreal to be addressing you today with my comments about faculty salary and compensation,” Daack-Hirsch said. “However, this crisis will end, and we will carry on.”

Faculty fill out a week-long activity report that allows the regents to see how they spend their time, Daack-Hirsch said in the letter. Through the report, it has been found that faculty average an excess of 50 hours per week, spend 20 or more hours a week on student instruction, and work on weekends, among other data. 

The new catastrophic-leave policy allows for faculty with half-time or more to receive donated time in the case they or a family member experiences a catastrophic illness or injury, her letter said. 

Daack-Hirsch said she wanted to work with the regents to create a more stable and sustainable benefit that allows faculty to have access to paid time off in the case of catastrophic illness and parental leave. 

RELATED: Iowa regents’ report shows slight increase in nontenure-track faculty

In Weaver’s letter he highlighted the work staff at the State Hygienic Lab and UI Health Care workers are doing in response to COVID-19. Faculty and staff researchers have ramped up projects focusing on the novel coronavirus, and staff have been working remotely and reassigned to temporary positions. 

He asked the regents to consider the efforts of the staff at the UI during the coronavirus outbreak when voting on the salary policies. 

The regents also heard the annual faculty-tenure report and proposed promotion and tenure report during its virtual meeting. According to regents documents, the UI had 1,156 tenured faculty for the 2019-20 academic year. The UI has 329 tenure-track faculty and 1,936 non-tenure track faculty for the 2019-20 academic year, according to regents documents. 

Non-tenure track faculty make up 57 percent of UI faculty, while tenured faculty make up 34 percent — a 2 percent decrease from 2017-18. 

The UI requested promotion and tenure actions for 147 faculty members for the 2020-21 academic year. Of those faculty members, 45 are promoted with tenure, 23 are promotions to faculty who already had tenure, and 79 are promoted without tenure. 

“From the 2008 flood to the Great Recession to the COVID-19 pandemic we now face, the University of Iowa has risen to all challenges and made itself stronger as a result,” Weaver said. “I know this will be no different, and I know I speak on behalf of my fellow UI employees when I say I look forward to working with you and our institution’s administration throughout this crisis and into the recovery.” 

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