High Impact Hiring Initiative spends millions to recruit, retain UI faculty

The High Impact Hiring Initiative, providing nearly $4.25 million, is looking to enhance the university’s recruiting and retention of “transformative faculty.”


Grace Kreber

Kevin Kregel, the Executive Vice President and Provost for the University of Iowa, poses for a portrait on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022.

Kate Perez, News Reporter

The High Impact Hiring Initiative at the University of Iowa has provided over $4 million in the past year for the recruitment and retention of faculty, providing funds to recruit 18 new faculty members to the university.

The initiative, which began in February 2021, is funded by the UI’s public-private utility system partnership with energy companies ENGIE North America and Meridiam. The funding provided to the university from leasing the UI utility system to these companies is only used for initiatives that support the UI Strategic Plan.

Kevin Kregel, executive vice president and provost, said the university decided to use public-private partnership funding for the initiative to support the UI Strategic Plan goal of helping student, faculty, and staff success.

“One of the key criteria of P3 funding is to foster interdisciplinary cross-collegian initiatives, and especially those that can strengthen the university on multiple levels,” Kregel said. “It’s our goal to utilize the P3 funds to leverage other support that might be available within a college or department and to grow new sustainable efforts in supporting the strategic plan.”

The UI received the funding for the program last February, which totaled nearly $4.25 million. The university has depleted almost all funding, using $4 million for this program. With this money, Kregel said, the university has been able to recruit 18 faculty members and fund 25 positions.

The second half of the initiative focuses on retaining faculty who could potentially be recruited by other universities, he said. The money could be used on resources like research and possible raises, he said.

According to the 2020 Campus Climate Survey, 48 percent of faculty respondents reported that they had seriously considered leaving the UI in the past 12 months.

In 2018, the first year the university conducted the survey, 44 percent of faculty said they has considered leaving the past 12 months.

The faculty retainment funding, Kregel said, is a way to show faculty that they matter.

“It’s funding to really acknowledge and provide support for these individuals and let them know how important they are to the university and that we want to support them,” he said. “We want them to stay and thrive here at the University of Iowa.”

The speed of the initiative has been beneficial for bringing in faculty and keeping faculty at the UI, Kregel said. After deans of the colleges submit proposals to the Office of the Provost for funding, it is approved in days.

“If we’re recruiting a faculty member and they’ve got potential offers from other universities, we want to make sure we get an offer on the table and not lose out,” he said. “This P3 funding is something that can be accessed quickly, and we can provide an answer back to the colleges and departments and say, ‘Yes, we can help.’”

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The UI receives $15 million each year from the public-private partnership. The deans of the various colleges are currently writing proposals for more funding for this specific initiative, Kregel said.

“[The deans] have been so pleased and happy with how these funds have been available to them and they’ve really been impactful for them,” he said. “That request will be evaluated by the strategy team like the others that will be submitted and we’ll see if it gets approved or not.”

Sara Sanders, dean of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan that the program has allowed the liberal arts college to apply the public-private partnership resources toward recruiting and retaining faculty that carry out the school’s mission and strategic plan.

“This program has allowed us to provide talented faculty who could be recruited away to other institutions or those we are trying to recruit to come to Iowa with increased research support and assistance,” Sanders wrote.

Sanders wrote that the program not only helps the university but students, as well.

“The HIHI has allowed the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to make some transformational hires and retain excellent faculty in several areas of strategic importance for us, both as a college and as a university,” she wrote. “This benefits students as they have the opportunity to learn from and work with faculty who are some of the best and brightest in their fields.”

UI President Barbara Wilson said in an interview with the DI on Monday that the university faculty is essential to keeping the UI competitive nationally, and the university needs to be able to bring in the best out there.

“In order to recruit great faculty, you have to constantly be looking at what the competition is, where the really smart ideas are coming from, and you got to make sure some of those folks come to Iowa,” Wilson said.

Faculty are not leaving the university at a faster rate than in the past, Wilson said, but it is still important to remain competitive to be the best institution possible.

“Faculty aren’t leaving here anymore now than in the past, but if you’re a strong university, you have to constantly be looking to hire and looking to retain,” Wilson said. “It’s a good thing to have your faculty be on the radar of other universities. You don’t want to be at a place where nobody’s really looking at your talent.”