Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
September 24, 1999

Survey, employee forums, top P&S Council's to-do list

by Anne Krapfl
She wouldn't be the first "education president" of this decade, but it's a tag new Professional and Scientific Council president Danette Kenne probably wouldn't mind.

Kenne, whose job is to coordinate graduate programs for the economics department, believes educated staff members are happier, productive employees.

"If you don't understand the system, you're frustrated," she said. "If you at least understand the system -- you still may not like the answers -- you know where you're at and how to improve your situation."

Much of what is on the council's agenda this year is about sharing and receiving information.

By early November, all P&S employees will receive in campus mail a survey, the first of its kind since 1990. Kenne chaired the ad hoc committee that has met since November to prepare survey questions on topics including professional development, performance reviews and salary adjustments, and office issues such as flexible schedules and leaves of absence. The ISU statistics laboratory is coordinating the survey.

"As council members, we may hear things accidentally, or we hear things that may be isolated or widespread -- we don't know," Kenne said. "We're looking for data from allP&S employees, and we're really hoping they'll use this opportunity to voice their concerns, and to tell us what they're happy with so we can figure out how to spread the success."

Survey results should be back early in the spring semester, when council members will set priorities and assign projects to council committees. Some items may become topics for the noon open forums that precede all council meetings, she said. And, although the P&S Council has an advisory, not policy-making, role, Kenne said the survey may uncover issues the council forwards, with recommendations, to administrators.

Education forums
The council also is working with Carla Espinoza, director of human resource services, to sponsor three noon forums this fall, on Monday, Oct. 11, Oct. 25 and Nov. 8, in the Memorial Union.

The forums will focus on issues related to P&S classification and compensation, including such things as pay grades and movement through the matrix. P&S employees are invited to submit specific questions for discussion to their council representative. Further instructions will be provided via the P&S e-mail network, Kenne said.

Kenne calls the forums "small steps" toward the "bigger picture."

"Big things are hard to achieve, but little things can have a big impact," she said. "These education forums provide a service by addressing questions. The impetus lies with staff members to attend."

Kenne also encouraged employees to attend the council's monthly noon forums, held in the Memorial Union.

Part of the council's education task, Kenne said, will be to share with the rest of the university community the contribution P&S staff make to Iowa State. She said misperceptions exist among the employee groups about what the others contribute to campus life and to student success.

Employee grants
Kenne also noted that earlier this month, the council awarded $30,000 in grants to 12 employee teams with projects to better recruit and retain students at Iowa State. President Martin Jischke increased the grant fund by $5,000 over last year's total, and up $10,000 from when he first funded the program in 1994-95.

Kenne said the number of proposals was down this year, but that those submitted did a good job of crossing departmental lines and involving more staff. Historically, those factors have contributed to successful recruitment and retention projects, she said.

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