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Former House Speaker Paulsen lands unadvertised Iowa State job

'Supply Chain Initiative' position to pay $135K

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Iowa’s former House Speaker Kraig Paulsen has taken a $135,000 unadvertised position with Iowa State University leading a new “supply chain initiative” aimed at improving corporate engagement in research, experiential learning for students, and educational outreach for faculty and staff.

Paulsen, who in August announced plans to step down as the House’s top leader and end his legislative career by not seeking re-election in 2016, will start working for Iowa State’s College of Business on a part-time basis in January. He will move to full-time once the 2016 Legislative Session ends, according to Iowa State.

He will be classified as a professional and scientific employee and earn an annual salary of $135,000, according to ISU spokesman John McCarroll. That puts him in the university’s highest pay grade and has him earning more than 95 percent of all full- and part-time Iowa State employees and more than 76 percent of ISU employees with “professor” in their title, according to the fiscal 2015 state salary database.

The job Paulsen has accepted was not advertised, as is required in most cases.

“His skills and experiences are considered a perfect fit for the College of Business initiative,” McCarroll said in an email to The Gazette. “His hire resulted from mutual interest and conversations about what the college wants to accomplish.”

McCarroll said Iowa State doesn’t often decide against advertising a position.

“But in this case it was seen as appropriate,” he said.

According to Iowa State policy — which was created to ensure employment diversity, equal opportunity, and broad candidate pools — “the filling of all positions shall be accomplished through a process that includes announcement of the opening as widely as appropriate in terms of the level of duties and responsibilities of the position.”

The policy states that all current employees should have the chance to be considered for openings for which they are qualified. And, according to the policy, Iowa State professional and scientific positions at the higher pay grade must be advertised nationally for at least 30 days.

Exceptions to the policy can be granted by the president based on a prior written request that is endorsed by a vice president and reviewed by the director of equal opportunity. Typically, according to the policy, such requests are based on “documented evidence that qualified candidates are unlikely to be available through an open search, or that an extended search would risk negating an opportunity to hire a member of an underrepresented group.”

Rob Schweers, communications director for ISU’s Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost, said in an email that a vice presidential request to waive the advertising requirement did occur in Paulsen’s case. It was approved by the Division of Academic Affairs and the Equal Opportunity Office, according to Schweers, who cited a rationale that “even if we had conducted a search, we would not likely have found a more qualified candidate.”

“Through this role and his professional experiences, he has developed strong relationships with corporate partners across the state,” according to the rationale that was submitted to get around advertising the position. “Through an open recruitment process, we would not get anyone of the caliber as Kraig.”

In a statement, ISU College of Business Dean David Spalding said the university is “extremely excited to have someone with Kraig’s expertise help to launch this initiative.”

“He has developed strong relationships with corporate and government partners, both locally and nationally, and we look forward to leveraging his experience in supply chain management, business law, and leadership,” Spalding said.

Paulsen, a 50-year-old Hiawatha Republican, has served as House speaker since 2011. He was first elected to the state Legislature in 2002. Iowa State calls him “an accomplished professional in supply chain operations and management.”

He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Iowa State, a master’s degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and a law degree from the University of Iowa College of Law. He serves as corporate counsel for CRST International Inc. — one of the country’s biggest transportation companies.

Paulsen served more than a decade in the U.S. Air Force as an operations group senior weapons instructor, maintenance flight commander, and squadron director of operations.

During his time with the Legislature, Paulsen’s interactions with Iowa’s public universities included responding to the Board of Regents’ annual state allocation requests on their behalf. In the last Legislative session that had the board asking for a 1.75 percent increase in state taxpayer support for UI, ISU, and the University of Northern Iowa, Paulsen backed a budget plan that did not include the extra money.

Paulsen, at the time, said he believed the institutions could support a proposed freeze of in-state resident tuition regardless of state support.

Paulsen also is linked to Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter through campaign contributions. Rastetter has been among Paulsen’s top 10 donors over the years, giving at least $85,000 to the “Paulsen for State House” committee since 2012 — even when he was running unopposed.

Rastetter’s term on the Board of Regents began in 2011 and is set to expire in 2017.

According to a press release about the new Iowa State initiative, supply chain management “is the heart and soul of any business, and a signature program in Iowa State’s business college.” The program, which focuses on the coordination and movement of products from their creation to the final customer, is home to innovative student learning activities.

l Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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