April 12, 2018

President Richards and Members of the Board:

My name is John Laverty and as president of the University of Iowa Staff Council (UISC), I want to thank you for providing time to hear my remarks today. First I’d like to share some of what the 7,500 Professional & Scientific and Merit Supervisory Exempt/Confidential staff I represent are contributing to the academic, research and service mission of the university and to the State of Iowa.

P&S and MSE/C staff at UI are actively engaged in:

  • Leading and assisting with cutting-edge research in labs across campus and in places throughout the world
  • Helping bring new discoveries from the labs to real-world applications and often to entrepreneurs and business to help fuel the State’s economic engine through work being done at the UI Research Foundation, UI Ventures, MERGE, TRI and the UI Research Park
  • Working with university students to be successful in their transition to college, providing support to succeed in the classroom, managing their finances, and ultimately graduating and moving successfully to a career or the next stage of their academic pursuits
  • Ensuring patients visiting UI Hospitals & Clinics receive the best care possible and have safe and successful outcomes. UI Health Care sees nearly a million outpatients annually on our main campus and across the State of Iowa at over 200 outpatient clinics serving patients from every corner of the state
  • Managing the ever increasing technology, computer infrastructure networks, and data and communication systems to connect us to each other on campus, citizens and businesses across the state and with those around the world
  • Overseeing the fiduciary responsibilities of the institution through best practices in accounting, budgeting, auditing, planning and strategically working in collaboration across campus to find efficiencies in our processes and where we focus our resources for the greatest good
  • Designing, planning and maintaining the physical spaces where our students, staff, faculty and citizens of Iowa come together to learn, create, and help lead us into the future; and
  • Providing leadership to help shape an inclusive culture that drives excellence and innovation in our workforce by supporting talent development, engagement, and the employee work experience through human resource efforts

The UI staff I represent are committed to continuing and improving upon the University’s mission. However, it is becoming more discouraging for many staff given the clear lack of support for public higher education that we see from our state elected officials.

Since 1998, the state budget has grown nearly $3 billion, but funding for UI has declined nearly $7 million in the last 20 years, even though we now have over 5,000 more students to serve. And with the latest $5 million 4th quarter cut from the state, we now have actually declined $12 million in total. We’ve also seen the state cancel matching funds which had been used to develop and de-risk new technologies prior to commercialization; this has an impact on UI’s technologies’ readiness for commercialization and relations with industry.

We appreciate your support for increasing tuition, but that strategy can be only one part of the effort to maintain UI as the flagship institution we’ve come to expect. More will need to be done through the hard work and dedication of UI staff; by developing new philanthropic funding streams, supporting research and commercialization opportunities at a faster pace, ensuring students remain focused on graduating in a timely manner, and re-doubling efforts to find efficiencies in all we do.

It is clear to those of us on UI Staff Council that you as a Board have improved the working relationship with our university and its leadership. We can see that you value what we are doing, the opportunities and challenges before us, and the complex mission we have to serve our students, citizens, patients and the state of Iowa. We want to commend as well the work that President Harreld and his administrative team have been doing and his collaborative engagement with students, staff and faculty across campus as we strategically work to move the University of Iowa forward to prepare it for future generations of Iowans.

I ask that you:

  • Continue your efforts to demand our state elected officials fully support public institutions of higher education in Iowa
  • Help tell our successes, opportunities and value to Iowans across the state and nation
  • Recognize the efforts, commitment and contributions of our staff through adequate cost of living increases at or above the Midwest CPI, and through meritorious service awards which encourage further innovation, entrepreneurship, and value-added opportunities
  • Provide a positive working environment through a continued strong benefits package, and flexible and supportive employee work policies, and
  • Recognize and support for our diverse work force—whether it be generational work place expectations, intercultural understanding, physical or sexual identity differences—we all need to fully engage moving in the same direction to meet the strategic goals of the University of Iowa.

Thank you again for providing this opportunity to share my thoughts with you on behalf of UI P&S and MSE/C staff as we prepare to embark on a new fiscal and academic year. On Iowa and Go Hawks!

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