P&S Council shares statement at April 26 Board of Regents meeting

P&S Council representative statement read at the BOR meeting on April 26, 2012 on the UNI campus by vice-president Anthony Smothers:

On behalf of UNI’s Professional and Scientific Council and all the Professional and Scientific employees, I would like to thank the Regents for the opportunity to speak today.

UNI’s Professional and Scientific Council remains dedicated to the institutional mission, vision, and goals of the University of Northern Iowa. The professionals that this council represents are involved in every aspect of UNI, working collaboratively with students, faculty, staff, and our administration to create a positive and engaging learning environment.

Last year, our Council President spoke with you about how the only ones who saw challenges at UNI were those that worked here. However, this year is much different. With all the publicity around the recent changes, the public is more aware how deeply we are being affected by the increasing cost of education and declining investment with public institutions. There will be a loss of P&S employees from these reductions, one that cannot be simply handled by attrition.

Yet, we are encouraged by the open communication and support we have received from President Allen and the UNI Cabinet. We have been able to have open and honest conversations and feel they are working hard to help those who will be laid off through this process. The UNI administration has increased these opportunities and help build the waning morale of the employees. Additionally, we have been engaged in leadership meetings, university council, and review processes with our administration. P&S staff have participated with student affairs assessments, academic program review, strategic planning, and budget discussions.

Given the landscape of higher education today, it is important to consider how change might present opportunities for enhancing UNI’s position as a leader in higher education. We trust that through these tough times UNI will succeed in becoming a stronger university, serving students and the people of Iowa. Your efforts to obtain special funding for our unique culture as a comprehensive university and needs of UNI is very much appreciated. 

I’d like to close by reading this personal statement from our President Melanie Abbas whom is unable to be here today:

“Over the past 25 years, I have had many relationships with UNI. Including undergraduate student, student employee, alumnus, athletic supporter, professional and scientific staff member, graduate student, adjunct instructor and doctoral candidate. My pride and dedication to this University is hard to beat. Yet, now, for the first time, I have serious concerns about the future of this institution and its role in higher education. The reduction in support by our legislators has had a considerable impact on the morale of the employees due to increased work loads, concerns for job security, and a loss of benefits. I have recently seen good people leave UNI for other opportunities, when UNI used to be the best opportunity in the area. With increasing tuition cost, I have seen many strong students, even valedictorians, choose other options. The years of being able to work a 20 hour/week job and pay all of your UNI tuition are no longer a reality. The thought of an affordable education at a state university in Iowa is quickly disappearing. I know that you are all supportive of UNI’s special interest in educating the students from Iowa who stay in Iowa. However, I am pleading with those legislators who are continuing to cut our budgets year after year and tell them these are no longer flesh wounds. They are cutting us to the very core of this university and they should be prepared to explain to the students, faculty, staff, and community what they envision for the future of UNI if things continue on this path.”

Thank you for your time today and all you have done this past year for the University of Northern Iowa.