UI faculty members support more scrutiny of potential hires

Mason must still sign off on proposed changes

IOWA CITY — More potential University of Iowa employees will undergo criminal background checks as part of the hiring process, under a policy change approved Tuesday by UI faculty leaders.

The changes to the university criminal background check policy must still be approved by UI President Sally Mason before they take effect. Several campus committees and groups, including the Faculty Senate on Tuesday, have backed the revisions.

The current policy calls for criminal background checks only for those positions that entail particular risk.

The revised version requires criminal background checks for all regular merit and professional scientific staff and faculty positions at the time candidates are selected for hire. Criminal background checks will be conducted for temporary staff, fixed-term faculty and student staff positions only when the position has been designated security sensitive.

The changes bring the UI policy more in line with the practices at peer institutions, said Warren Darling, chairman of the faculty policies and compensation committee. Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa conduct criminal background checks on all faculty and staff members when they’re hired, with exceptions for certain part-time or student employees, officials said.

The revisions also allow more flexibility for university human resources when a background check turns up one single, minor conviction. Under the current policy, a consultation among several UI officials must occur every time a check reveals a criminal conviction. Under the policy change, senior human resources representatives will be authorized, under established guidelines, to approve a hire when a check reveals one minor conviction.

The most frequent minor convictions that UI officials had in mind are possession of alcohol under the legal age, public intoxication and driving a car without the proper registration.

“Those are the ones that come up most commonly,” Darling said.

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