University of Iowa creates more programs to strengthen faculty recruitment, retention efforts

The UI created two new programs to recruit and retain faculty, the Transformational Faculty Hiring Program, and the Iowa Faculty Scholar Award.


Raquele Decker

The Old Capitol Building is seen on Monday, March 1, 2021.

Kate Perez, News Reporter

The University of Iowa has implemented new programs to recruit stronger faculty and retain those already strong within the system, Provost Kevin Kregel said in a presentation at the UI Faculty Senate meeting Tuesday.

Kregel presented two new programs the university has created and highlighted others created in 2021 and 2019, all geared toward the retention and recruitment of faculty.

The first, the Transformational Faculty Hiring Program, aims to hire tenured faculty who can have a transformational impact on the university in strategic areas of scholarship and teaching, Kregel said.

“The goal here is to look at the opportunity to recruit faculty to the University of Iowa who can have a significant impact at the department, collegiate and university level,” Kregel said. “Individuals who can be collaborative, interdisciplinary in their outputs, and really coalesce around some key strategic areas that we’re trying to build upon our campus.”

The program will provide funding to those hired for various departments and roles at the university, Kregel said.

“How we’re going to pull this off is to support these individuals with resources up to about $1.5 million per hire,” Kregel said. “That’s discretionary funding for them to use for their research and teaching activities. I anticipate some of these hires won’t necessarily need that level of funding, others might need a little bit higher.”

Kregel said the university is hoping to hire three faculty members for the next three years starting in fiscal 2024, with the funding of $1.5 million will be spread over the three years. The university is also looking to hire someone for endowed chair positions in the Office of the Provost that will be for a five-year period.

The university will discuss potential recruits in the spring of 2022, have the recruitments visit campus in the summer and fall of 2022, and then finalize hires in the spring of 2023, he said.

Kregel also presented the new Iowa Faculty Scholar Award, which he said aims to retain top, mid-career faculty across academic disciplines, generally within five years of receiving tenure.

“These are going to be identified by our Dean’s and with the help of DEOs,” Kregel said. “[They are] individuals who are potential retention risks for us, some of our really top achievers early in their mid-career who we want to identify and support.”

Those who are awarded will receive $25,000 per year for three years to use for discretionary efforts around their scholarship, Kregel said. The first cohort will be announced in May and will be awarded this coming fall after being selected via a committee process.

Nominations will start in February and be due in March 2022. Awardees will be nominated in May, Kregel said.

“We’re anticipating this to be a recurring effort over the next several years to identify, again four per year, to really try to encourage these younger, more mid-career faculty to be productive leaders on campus in their departments of colleges,” he said.

The P3 High Impact Hiring Initiative is also focused on retaining faculty as well as recruiting new faculty, Kregel said in his presentation to the senators. The initiative was given around $4.25 million for funding, and the university received those funds last February after a public-private partnership proposal submitted by the council of deans was approved for funding by the partnership board.

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Kregel said the program has been hugely successful over the last 12 months. Out of the $4.25 million allocated, the university has committed $4 million.

“That’s funded 25 positions, that’s been spread over eight colleges, as well as UI libraries,” Kregel said. “We’ve seen 18 recruitments, and seven retentions of faculty across the different colleges. We anticipate utilizing the rest of these funds over the next couple of months as colleges complete their hiring cycle and some retentions.”

The university hopes to get more private-public partnership funding to continue the process, he said, because they have identified that UI colleges and departments have very limited funding to help support retention and recruitment.

“When we can come in and provide some additional support for a college, that really seems to help close the deal in some of these cases,” Kregel said. “In terms of the retention portion of it, to identify those individuals and provide them with support and really acknowledge that we value them, they’re important contributors to the university, and we try our best to retain them.”

Kregel finished his presentation by discussing the UI Distinguished Chair, which was created in 2019. The UI Distinguished Chair highlights two individuals who have demonstrated outstanding achievements and hold promise of future research, teaching, and scholarly innovations, he said.

“This program was developed to really acknowledge and identify full-time tenured faculty who are exceptional in their fields in their disciplines,” Kregel said. “This is an effort for us to acknowledge and identify those who are making exceptional contributions, and certainly as a pre-emptive approach, also for potential concerns about retention.”

The program awards the two recipients with $50,000 per year for five years to support their research, teaching, and scholarship activities, and it is a non-renewable term, Kregel said.

The university will be sending out requests for nominations in the first part of March. The UI Distinguished Chair program is one that the UI anticipates being able to maintain in a recurring way over the course of the next several years, Kregel said

The programs as a whole are created to support faculty and make it stronger over time, he said.

“All of these are aimed at really enhancing our faculty support mechanisms as we go forward,” Kregel said. “A lot of people have put in a lot of time and effort to help us develop these programs, and I think you’ll see them paying some real positive dividends for us as we go forward here.”