Statement to the Iowa Board of Regents by P&S Council President Mark Rowe-Barth

P&S Council representative statement to the Iowa Board of Regents, read at April 25, 2013 meeting on the UNI campus, by P&S Council President Mark Rowe-Barth:
 
Board President Lang, President Pro Tem Rastetter, Members of the Board and Board office, Administrators of Regent Institutions and guests: I am grateful today to provide you this statement, on behalf of the University of Northern Iowa Professional and Scientific Council and Professional and Scientific employees.
 
As of Fall 2012, there are 591 P&S employees, spread throughout all four divisions of UNI. The break-down by percentage is 51 percent in the Division of Academic Affairs, 21 percent in the Division of Student Affairs, 18 percent in the President’s Division and 10 percent in the Administration and Financial Services Division. P&S staff members usually have special training, including academic degrees or equivalent experience. Virtually all P&S employees have degrees at the bachelor level, and about half have received one or more post-graduate degrees. P&S employees are vital to UNI's institutional mission, serving students, working with faculty and the public on a year-around basis. In every department, P&S employees facilitate and carry out the mission and work of UNI in roles that range from academic advising and information technology, to counseling and coaching.
 
As P&S Council President, I continue to be encouraged by the open communication and support we have received from President Allen and the UNI Cabinet. We continue to have open and honest conversations as we have been engaged in leadership meetings, university council, and review processes with our administration. One example of how we are engaged with administration this year is our P&S Council benefits survey. Given the context of FY 14 salary issues with the statements you are receiving today, I want to take this opportunity to highlight some key findings from this recent, spring 2013 survey.
 
The survey was completed by 190 participants resulting in an approximate 30 percent return. Overall, P&S employees are satisfied with university-provided benefits. Satisfaction with health insurance benefits has remained high as well. However, a noteworthy shift in health insurance satisfaction has occurred. In 2011, 80 percent of employees were very satisfied with their health insurance. In 2013 this reduced to 58 percent. In 2011, health insurance plan offerings were changed taking effect after the 2011 survey. This is the only correlation known to the P&S Council at this time.
 
Generally, employees are satisfied with their university-provided financial benefits. Significant levels of dissatisfaction occur with wages (37 percent dissatisfied or very dissatisfied) and professional development (17 percent dissatisfied or very dissatisfied). Comments on professional development were primarily focused on the lack of funding, resources, and/or time necessary to complete professional development.
 
Comments indicating dissatisfaction regarding wages covered the following themes:
  • Unequal pay for the same work across the regents’ institutions, divisions, departments, and even sometimes within departments.
  • New, less-experienced hires coming in at higher salaries than existing employees.
  • Lack of transparency on the distribution of raises.
  • Inability to move out of the lowest pay quartile.
  • Higher pay found in the private sector.
 
I am confident that the P&S Council and administration will continue to work together on these concerns as opportunities for growth and improvement.
 
We have been going through a time of considerable change, and that continues today. Given the landscape of higher education, it is important to consider how this 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, continuing to serve students and the people of Iowa. We know that you worked hard, last year and this year, to obtain special funding for UNI, as the comprehensive university in Iowa, and these efforts are very much appreciated. UNI P&S employees believe in your ability to positively impact our standing in the state of Iowa and beyond. Thank you again for your time today, for all you have done for UNI in this past year, and all you will continue to do.