Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
June 11, 1999

Council anticipates census survey of P&S staff

by Anne Dolan

In several ways, it was a preparatory year for the Professional and Scientific Council, says the group's president Rob Bowers, a captain in the patrol division of the public safety department. Bowers, who leaves the council after a three-year term, two of those as president, identified several projects council members continue to address.

A comprehensive, census-type survey -- the first of its kind since 1990 -- will be distributed to all P&S employees later this summer. (Some P&S employees were surveyed in spring 1994, primarily to gauge satisfaction with professional development opportunities and performance evaluations.) The 1999 survey will ask P&S employees to respond to lots of topics, including professional development opportunities, job satisfaction, number of hours regularly worked, and performance evaluation and salary notification procedures.

Bowers said the executive committee and a sub-committee of the council have worked for about a year on developing the survey, including seeking content ideas and support from Human Resource Services and the Provost Office.

"We hear of people being asked to work extraordinary numbers of hours. We hear of people not getting performance appraisals," Bowers said. "The council wants to know if what we hear is localized or widespread.

"If it's widespread, we need to work at the provost or president level to get the issues resolved. If it's isolated incidents, we need to meet with the local department people."

Two other projects that will affect P&S staff in the future wrapped up this year. An ad hoc committee completed a survey of the recipients of student recruitment and retention grants in the first four years of the program (1998-99 is the fifth year). A report and recommendations for strengthening the grant program were approved by the council this month and will be forwarded to President Martin Jischke. The president's office has funded the program each year.

This year also was the second year of a two-year pilot study in which P&S employees taking courses as part of their professional development received 100 percent tuition reimbursement for up to three credits per semester. Previously, tuition grants averaged around 70 percent of the cost of a class, Bowers said, but varied with the number of grant applications submitted.

No decision has been made on future funding of the program, but Bowers said the number of people seeking tuition grants didn't balloon under the more generous policy.

"There seems to be a given number of people who are able to take classes at one time," he said.

P&S at the head of the class

P&S staff members with teaching responsibilities is another issue the council's executive committee discussed this year. Bowers said that of about 2,100 P&S employees at Iowa State, approximately 80 have the authority to assign student grades. He said executive committee members haven't heard of any P&S employees who feel they have been misused in their teaching roles. Most see it as career enhancement or professional development, he added.

"Given the competitive market-place of the '90s, we feel Iowa State should use every resource available to provide a strong education," Bowers said. "If that resource is a P&S employee, it's a tragedy not to take advantage of it.

"We believe that faculty should choose who their colleagues are. We're not advocating that P&S staff teach the core, basic theory kinds of courses, but when a P&S employee can provide unique classroom experiences, we encourage people not to get hung up on the faculty versus P&S distinction."

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