Education

Iowa State replacing Kraig Paulsen three years after bypassing policy to hire him

Former House speaker made a total $411,448 during his time at ISU

Speaker of the House Kraig Paulsen (from left) greets former US Representative Leonard Boswell after the Condition of the State address at the State Capitol Building in Des Moines on Tuesday, January 14, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette-KCRG TV9)
Speaker of the House Kraig Paulsen (from left) greets former US Representative Leonard Boswell after the Condition of the State address at the State Capitol Building in Des Moines on Tuesday, January 14, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette-KCRG TV9)

Just three years after skirting policy by hiring former Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen without a search to head its new “Supply Chain Initiative” — and just one year after getting that program off the ground — Iowa State University is looking for his successor.

Gov. Kim Reynolds, effective Feb. 25, appointed Paulsen to lead Iowa’s Department of Revenue, compelling his departure as director of Iowa State’s Supply Chain and Business Analytics initiatives. Earning a starting salary of $135,000 upon his hire Jan. 4, 2016, Paulsen made a total $411,448 during his time at Iowa State — calculating in partial pay during the 2016 legislative session and pay raises.

He received a 3-percent bump in the 2017 budget year — months before the initiative he was leading held its first meeting in April 2018 — bringing his salary to $139,050. Paulsen was making $140,440 when he left Iowa State on Feb. 22 — the day Gov. Reynolds made his new appointment public.

In his new role with the Department of Revenue, Paulsen is making $154,300. The governor’s office didn’t respond to questions from The Gazette about whether Paulsen applied for the post or was sought out by the governor.

When Paulsen started at Iowa State three years ago, he was transitioning out of his role as speaker of the House in the Iowa Legislature, where he had served since 2002. He previously had been corporate counsel to trucking company CRST International in Cedar Rapids, but that position also was ending in 2016.

Although Iowa State had been mulling some type of supply chain initiative, the university fast-tracked the project and thus the position for Paulsen after ISU Provost Jonathan Wickert in September 2015 asked College of Business Dean David Spalding about possible jobs for Paulsen, who had announced plans to leave the legislature after the 2016 session.

Emails obtained by The Gazette through public records requests showed Spalding suggested Paulsen for either a lecturer position or a role related to expanding Iowa State’s supply chain management program. Although Spalding said a new supply chain education and research center would need a director, he cautioned the initiative could take a year or more to get off the ground.

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Wickert suggested pursing the supply chain expansion, and Iowa State hired Paulsen to start working on a part-time basis in January 2016, moving in to “full-time work once the 2016 Iowa legislative session has ended,” according to a news release at the time.

Iowa State didn’t advertise the job Paulsen took — citing a rare policy exception. And administrators approved a “handshake deal” before Paulsen even formally applied, according to documents provided to The Gazette.

The Supply Chain Initiative — as originally pitched — aimed to better engage corporate partners with faculty research, student learning, and education outreach opportunities. That hasn’t changed, although the program now is called a “Supply Chain Forum” — as it’s more an exchange of ideas and topics between researchers and corporate partners, Spalding told The Gazette last year when the forum met for the first time.

As Spalding originally anticipated, the supply chain expansion effort took more than a year to start. In fact, it took more than two years from Paulsen’s hire to its first forum meeting in April 2018. The forum’s original four corporate partners involved in that first assembly included Hy-Vee, Kent Corporation, Alliant Energy, and Ruan. One year later, Iowa State has added seven partners, including Cargill, Land O’Lakes, Corteva Agriscience, and the Iowa Department of Transportation.

The plan continues to involve two meetings a year — with success measured by number of partners, re-commitments, supported research projects, and academic efforts receiving some form of backing. The forum’s website lists 20 student scholarship recipients in 2018, along with its involvement in case competitions for students and the annual Voorhees Supply Chain Conference, which 27 years ago started as a supply chain executive-in-residence program and in 2002 shifted into a full-day conference.

The next Voorhees conference is scheduled for April 24. The next Supply Chain Forum meeting is scheduled for May 23, according to Iowa State spokesman John McCarroll.

The university has not named an interim director for its Supply Chain Forum, and it hasn’t yet started a search — although Spalding reported plans to do so this year, according to McCarroll.

In the governor’s appointment of Paulsen to the Department of Revenue — where he will replace Adam Humes, who “has decided to pursue other opportunities” — she noted Paulsen’s work as past commissioner at the Iowa Department of Transportation and his education at Iowa State, where he earned a bachelor’s degree; Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, where he got a master’s in business administration; and University of Iowa, where he earned a law degree.

In a statement, Paulsen said joining the Reynolds’ administration an honor.

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“In my new role, I look forward to working with the high-quality professionals within the department to ensure the highest levels of accountability and transparency to Iowa taxpayers,” he said.

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

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