Friday, May 13, 2022

Staff Council President Kevin Zihlman concludes his term this month. In this reflection, Kevin recounts his priorities for the past year, Staff Council successes throughout the year, and how he looks forward to the next Council year.  

As I conclude my year as a Staff Council President, I reflect that a leadership journey is never taken alone.  The support I received from UI Staff Council, the UI Staff Council Executive team, the UI Administration, and Staff Council Administrative Services Coordinator, Marla Rosenblum, have made this a successful year for UI Staff Council.  It’s the work and support of others that ultimately matter when success is to be achieved, not the work of one person with a title. 

My priorities for Staff Council 2021-22 included: 

  • Focus on recognizing UI staff members positively impacting our communities locally, at the state level, and/or nationwide. 
  • Continue to encourage and support Staff Council committees with their focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion during their goal setting and the year. 
  • Establish and maintain a Staff Council relationship with President Wilson through regular meetings and invitations to Staff Council events. 

UI Staff Council has shown its continued commitment to being a collaborative body in the UI’s Shared Governance structure.  Here are some of our accomplishments: 

  • We successfully established a positive working relationship with our new University President, Barbara Wilson.   
  • We continued to prioritize DEI efforts in our committee work, including bringing back a highly successful DEI celebration in the Spring of 2022.   
  • We highlighted amazing UI staff that impact society at the local, national and international level outside of their day to day UI staff roles.   
  • Staff Council continued to be a voice for staff during discussions on the campus’ Future of Work recommendations.   
  • We made sure Staff had a voice specific to the TIAA-CREF Farmlands Investment discussion that occurred on our campus in the Summer of 2021.   
  • As a Council, we tracked the opportunities gained by UI staff relative to the increased funding that Staff Council sought (and secured) for the UI Employee Tuition Assistance Program.  So many UI Staff that were once denied financial assistance to this program had that barrier removed due to the work of UI Staff Council.   
  • Lastly, Staff Council continued its advocacy for re-thinking total compensation packages for staff and how to retain/recruit existing and new talented staff at the University of Iowa, including discussions on future possibilities of a UI Dependent Tuition Assistance program. 

I am excited to see the journey of new President, Jackie Kleppe.  I have been lucky to get to work with Jackie this last year.  Her knowledge of this institution and her empathic qualities as a person will make her a far better President than I. 

 Thank you to the Staff at the University of Iowa.  The kind words I’ve received from many of you were very much appreciated, as were the challenging conversations.  We are what keeps this complex institution of higher education running, period. 

 Never say goodbye, say good journey.