Harreld to push 'faculty vitality'

New UI president to present proposal to regents

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IOWA CITY — Should state lawmakers give the University of Iowa a $4.5 million appropriations bump in the next budget year, as requested by the Board of Regents, new UI President J. Bruce Harreld will use it for “faculty vitality,” according to UI officials and documents.

Harreld, with the help of UI administrators, has created a “proposal for faculty vitality at the University of Iowa” that reflects his vision to boost support for faculty, UI Provost Barry Butler told The Gazette. Harreld, who officially started his tenure as president Monday, has not yet formally presented the proposal to the Board of Regents, but Butler said he plans to soon.

The proposal, obtained by The Gazette through a public records request, outlines two “essential areas” the $4.5 million increase in recurring state allocations would support related to faculty vitality.

First, according to the proposal, additional state resources would be used to retain faculty by “increasing salaries of tenure-track faculty who are nationally competitive in their fields of study and whose salaries are well behind their peers.”

It also would go toward “focused growth” — increasing the number of faculty members in “key areas of excellence on campus” — with an emphasis on the university’s multidisciplinary cluster hiring initiative, according to the proposal.

The Board of Regents in September approved its 2017 budget year appropriations requests, which included $8.2 million more in general appropriations for Iowa State University, $7.7 million more for University of Northern Iowa, and $4.5 million more for UI.

Originally, the board office proposed no appropriations increase for UI in the next budget year, but regents President Bruce Rastetter said he suggested the board instead ask for $4.5 million after discussing UI needs with Harreld.

If the state approves the funding request, Butler said, the idea would be to use it all on faculty vitality — although the exact split of how funds would be spent has yet to be determined.

Butler said the proposal reflects Harreld’s vision to boost faculty support.

“Faculty are a critical part of the success of any university and the true measure of a university’s excellence lies in the caliber of those faculty,” according to the proposal. “Outstanding faculty advance groundbreaking research and clinical work, enrich the daily academic lives of students and colleagues, contribute to economic growth and bring further distinction to the university.”

The proposal praises UI’s “talented teachers, researchers, clinicians, artists, and scholars,” but states financial constraints in recent years have caused the number of tenure-track faculty and their average salary to lag behind peers.

“Competitive salaries and appropriate faculty numbers are vital to our long-term success,” according to the proposal. “Moving forward, it is imperative that the University of Iowa attract talented new colleagues and retain top-notch faculty members.”

A 2014 Board of Regents report — the most recent available — shows total tenured and tenure-track faculty across all three regent universities decreased in the 2013-2014 school year, while non-tenure-track faculty increased.

At UI specifically, according to the regent report, the percent of tenured faculty has decreased from 42.8 percent in the 2011-2012 year to 40.6 percent in the 2013-2014 year. The portion of non-tenure-track faculty during the same period increased from 44.7 percent to 47 percent.

From 2012 to 2014, according to a separate regent report, the percent of UI student credit hours taught by tenured faculty dropped from 39.7 percent to 36.5 percent while the percent of hours taught by non-tenure-track instructors rose from 39.3 percent to 42 percent.

Harreld in an interview with The Gazette last week, said he’s starting his time on the job listening and learning. And, he said, a lot of his energy will be focused on the “core” of the campus — which he said is the faculty.

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