University of Iowa college, unit leaders could make new raise schedule permanent

Pay increases still on track for Jan. 1

The Pentacrest on the campus of the University of Iowa including the Old Capitol Building (center), Macbride Hall (top l
The Pentacrest on the campus of the University of Iowa including the Old Capitol Building (center), Macbride Hall (top left), Jessup Hall (bottom left), Schaeffer Hall (top right), and MacLean Hall (bottom right) in an aerial photograph. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette/file photo)

After deciding earlier this year to delay pay raises for most University of Iowa faculty and staff from July until January in the wake of state funding cuts, the administration on Thursday said it’s letting deans and vice presidents choose whether to make the new pay-raise schedule permanent.

Annual performance reviews and associated salary increases historically aligned with the UI budget year, which starts July 1 and ends June 30. But UI President Bruce Harreld in May announced a midyear takeback in state support warranted waiting until the new year to decide how much — or whether — to increase faculty and staff pay.

By postponing salary increases and commitments across campus — except for UI Health Care employees — the university aimed to develop a clearer revenue picture based, in part, on fall enrollment and tuition income. The university also wanted to see whether lawmakers will signal more cuts after Iowa’s December meeting of its revenue estimating conference.                

A new UI budget model enacted in April that gives deans and vice presidents more control over their respective budgets makes possible the new freedom to choose when to evaluate employee performance and enact pay raises.

“The adoption of the new university budget model has created more flexibility for unit leaders to choose a timing for salary increases that works best for their business needs,” according to a Thursday message from the Office of Strategic Communications.

Respective college and division leaders already have decided whether to adopt a Jan. 1 or July 1 review and salary-increase cycle, according to the university. The university’s human resources department is helping facilitate those transitions.

This year’s salary increases remain on track for Jan. 1, and officials noted individual faculty bumps should rely on performance reviews and competitive marketplace conditions.

Additionally, the university is honoring all existing contracts and the timing of performance reviews in those contracts — including with collecting bargaining units like Service Employees International Union, which covers many UI Health Care staffers, and American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.

Budget woes have gripped the campus following back-to-back midyear budget cuts and de-appropriations amounting to more than $40 million in general education support from Iowa’s public universities since the start of fiscal 2017.

The Iowa General Assembly approved an $8.3 million increase for the three universities in the budget year that started July 1. The schools have committed to use all those dollars for student financial aid, as the Board of Regents approved tuition increases as a way of generating more money.

In addition to the pay freeze, UI responded to the declining state support by imposing a five-month moratorium on new campus construction and announcing the closure of seven centers — including the UI Labor Center, sparking widespread criticism and protests.

Iowa State University, after the first round of midyear budget cuts last year, announced it would freeze pay. But new ISU President Wendy Wintersteen in June announced she was thawing the freeze with a 1-percent raise for the 2019 budget year.

Additionally, in hopes of retaining top faculty and addressing a surge in resignations, Wintersteen OK’d raises as high as 10 percent for “extraordinary performance, retention, and adjustments based on market rates or equity.” l Comments: (319) 339-3158;