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IOWA CITY - Firms interested in helping the University of Iowa review its employment policies and practices - after the institution lost a high-profile discrimination case to the tune of millions - have less than a month to submit proposals.
The university's new 14-member 'employment practices committee” charged with selecting one or more outside consulting firms to conduct the external review issued a request for qualifications Thursday. The group has been writing the request - defining its scope, instructions, and evaluation criteria - since its formation in early June.
UI President Bruce Harreld announced the independent external review after a Polk County jury in May found the university discriminated against former athletics administrator Jane Meyer based on her gender and sexual orientation, awarding her $1.43 million.
Following the verdict, the university settled a related case with former UI Field Hockey Coach Tracey Griesbaum, who accused the institution of discrimination, and another case involving Meyer in federal court. The settlements cost the university $6.5 million.
The request for proposals issued Thursday states the university is 'committed to equity in employment” and therefore wants to review its employment policies and practices regarding equitable treatment of the protected classes identified in the Iowa Civil Rights Act and in internal UI policies.
The review, according to documents made public Thursday, will focus specifically on the UI's hiring, promotion, documentation, compensation, and termination of faculty and staff. It will be broken down into three phases: the first covering the UI Athletics Department, the second covering the university's academic and operational units, and the third focusing on UI Health Care.
Firms have until Aug. 17 to submit proposals. The university, according to the documents, can make a selection based on those initial proposals or it can ask firms to make on-site presentations.
'The university reserves the right to select a firm or firms to provide these services, or to make no award, whichever is in the university's best interest,” the documents state.
Any firms chosen for the job will be charged with making recommendations regarding UI employment policies and practices and collaborating with university administrators. Interested firms must detail their data collection process, a timeline and milestones for completing the review, and methods for making final recommendations.
In choosing the firm or firms, the university can consider an array of qualifications, including a firm's experience, the proposed process, and a suggested fee structure.
The university, in settling its discrimination cases with Griesbaum and Meyer, admitted no wrongdoing.
In a statement Thursday, Erin Brothers, senior sponsored research specialist in the UI Division of Sponsored Programs and co-chair of the committee, said the university is 'optimistic about this review because every workplace can benefit from outside examination.”
Peter Snyder, professor of internal medicine and UI Faculty Senate president who is co-chairing the committee with Brothers, said the group took its time to make sure the request for qualifications 'addresses everyone's concerns.”
'We have a strong and engaged group of committee members who bring valuable perspectives from across the campus,” he said in a statement.
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