Education

University of Iowa boosts pay for tenure- and clinical-track faculty

University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld speaks Sept. 5 during the dedication for the recently completed renovation of the University of Iowa’s College of Nursing building in Iowa City. The 35,377-square-foot renovation included the ground floor, the first floor, half of the second floor, and parts of the third and fourth floors. The total cost was $11.8 million. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld speaks Sept. 5 during the dedication for the recently completed renovation of the University of Iowa’s College of Nursing building in Iowa City. The 35,377-square-foot renovation included the ground floor, the first floor, half of the second floor, and parts of the third and fourth floors. The total cost was $11.8 million. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Faculty pay plays a key role the University of Iowa’s strategic plan and in the metrics considered for its national ranking, and after a freeze last year compelled by cuts in state funding, UI administrators on Thursday announced raises for promoted tenure- or clinical-track faculty.

Per a new salary policy, all UI tenure- and clinical-track faculty promoted to associate professor now will receive a $4,000 boost to their annual pay, up from $2,500, according to the UI Office of Strategic Communication. Faculty on those tracks promoted to full professor will see a $6,000 bump, up from $3,500.

The new raise policy won’t take effect until July 1, 2020. It comes after UI President Bruce Harreld last year froze faculty raises for six months — from July to January — following deep state cuts and with questions looming about the Legislature’s continued support.

The university eventually thawed the freeze, but enacted a new budgeting model allowing colleges and departments to permanently shift their pay cycles to January, when they have a clearer picture of resources from tuition and state funding.

With the freeze still in effect, the university last fall dropped in the high-profile and often-touted U.S. News & World Report rankings — which consider faculty compensation among their metrics — from No. 31 to No. 38 among public universities and from No. 78 to No. 89 overall. It saw some improvement this fall, although not enough to make up the lost ground, gaining four spots to No. 34 among publics and five spots overall to No. 84.

In a statement Thursday, the university’s new Executive Vice President and Provost Montserrat Fuentes said her campus is committed to supporting “outstanding faculty” who advance the UI mission.

“Scholarship, research, and discovery are central to that mission, and tenure-track faculty, in particular, are key to achieving distinction in those areas,” Fuentes said in the statement. “This increase in promotional raises is a step in the right direction toward better recognizing faculty commitment to excellence, and it will help the university recruit in a very competitive environment.”

The university has experienced a string of high-profile faculty and administrative departures in the last few years. And its tenure- and tenure-track faculty totals have been declining, with non-tenure-track numbers surging.

Its 2018-19 tenure and tenure-track total was 1,496, down 11 percent from about 1,672 a decade earlier. Meanwhile, its 1,836 non-tenure-track total in the last academic year was up 40 percent from the 1,104 in 2008-09, according to state Board of Regents documents. A large chunk of those non-tenure-track faculty are clinical-track faculty, who are included in the university’s new promotion policy. In 2008, the university reported the full-time equivalent of 756 clinical-track faculty.

Other non-tenure-track faculty include lecturers, adjunct professors, and those on instructional and research tracks. Although they aren’t privy to the automatic raises afforded by the new policy, college and department heads can — per general practice across campus — award similar promotions to those they find deserving, according to UI officials.

In a statement, Harreld indicated heightened competition both for faculty and students today — and in the coming years — played a role in the promotion policy.

“Enrollment projections in the next decade show us that universities nationwide will be in closer competition with each other than ever before,” Harreld said in a statement.

In that faculty recruitment and retention is critical to the 2016-21 UI Strategic Plan, which was completed shortly after Harreld arrived in 2015, UI colleges in 2017 received $4.9 million to help raise average salaries for full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty.

“Our university’s new budget model has empowered college leadership with greater control over their funds,” Harreld said in his statement. “So it is more important than ever that we all work together to strengthen faculty support.”

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

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