Staff Columnist

The University of Iowa fires instructors and tells the rest to get back to the classroom

15 instructors are fired in a cost saving measure, while administrative salaries remain untouched

An anonymous cartoon depicting the University of Iowa's pledge to put people first, while firing 15 instructors.
An anonymous cartoon depicting the University of Iowa's pledge to put people first, while firing 15 instructors.

Just one month after University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld declared that UI must keep its faculty and students safe, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is asking faculty to prepare to teach in-person classes in the fall and fired 15 instructors.

In a meeting on June 1, Steve Goddard the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, told a faculty member, who is a woman of color and immunocompromised that she should come back to work to teach because she was a “role model.”

In the middle of a pandemic, Goddard, told a woman of color to get therapy for her anxiety about exposing herself to the coronavirus. Goddard makes $372,000 a year. The salary of the instructors fired is approximately $45,000.

Goddard’s comments reflect a crass accounting that sacrifices the lives and bodies of the most vulnerable for a university bottom line. Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom, National Book Award Finalist and author of “Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy,” tweeted in response to Goddard’s comments: “They will kill us and use our corpses for their diversity and inclusion brochures.”

“It’s a neat hat trick,” she explained on June 21, “1. Reduce person of color to a body 2. Deny the body what it needs to survive 3. Transmogrify death into personal responsibility.”

Brittany Borghi, who is a rhetoric instructor at the CLAS, told me that when faculty are sacrificed on the altar of cost savings that it has an effect on the quality of teaching. Faculty are essential to the mission of the university, Borghi explained, but it’s faculty and students who often sacrificed when the budget is cut. In 2017, in response to budget cuts, Harreld revoked millions of dollars of scholarships from undergraduates. The scholarships were reinstated after students and parents sued the university.

Since 1987, administrative staff positions at universities have expanded by 200 percent. And now, as the school struggles to re-imagine itself in a global pandemic with declining enrollment, Goddard unveiled a plan that drastically affects the salaries and teaching loads and risks for faculty, but doesn’t address administrative salaries. University leaders are expecting their instructors and students to die for their eduction, but the deans won’t even consider a pay cut.

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A former IBM executive, Bruce Harreld, the president of the University of Iowa, was hired in an attempt to remake the university a functioning business. And by the failing standards of what Cottom describes as crass American “racial capitalism” he’s been successful. Harreld was hired in a search process that was called “crude exercise of naked power” by The American Association of University Professors who conducted an audit of the search to replace former president Sally Mason. During the search, Harreld falsely claimed to have worked as a managing principal for a firm called Executing Strategy LLC, out of Avon, Colo. The Gazette reported in 2015 that no such business exists. The search process cost the university $308,000, with the majority of the expense being paid to an Atlanta-based search firm. Under Herrald’s leadership, the University has struggled to recruit and retain diverse staff and recently. outsourced it’s utilities in a $1.165 billion public-private partnership deal without seeking public comment.

Harreld makes $590,000 a year. The layoffs account for $778,000 saved. The only thing being protected at UI are administrators salaries.

And apparently, UI is hiring, a dean — starting salary $350,000.

lyz.lenz@thegazette.com; 319-368-8513

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