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February 7, 2003

Council reaffirms support for family leave proposal

by Anne Krapfl
As its proponents await action by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, the Professional and Scientific Council last week reaffirmed its support for a proposed family leave policy.

The proposal authorizes six weeks of paid leave for eligible P&S staff and faculty with newborn or adopted children, and also acknowledges the federal Family Medical Leave Act, which guarantees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to new parents. The proposal cleared all campus hurdles last April and was forwarded to the regents.

The council's resolution, passed Feb. 6, states that the policy, if enacted, would "establish a climate and culture at Iowa State that promotes gender equity for faculty and P&S staff and will be beneficial to the university in its efforts to foster diversity and to recruit and retain exceptional faculty and P&S staff."

Assistant provost Ellen Rasmussen and human resource services director Carla Espinoza, who serve as liaisons to the council and also both serve on the committee that drafted the proposal, told council members that a regents decision is unlikely until after the conclusion of the 2003 Legislative session.

Last summer, regents staff sent the ISU committee about a dozen questions on the proposal, most having to do with the cost of implementing it and information about what kinds of similar policies exist at peer universities.

The regents also asked that ISU confer and, if possible, coordinate with Iowa's two other regent universities in presenting a proposal.

Espinoza noted that collective bargaining units cover all of Northern Iowa's faculty and staff, so their employee benefits are set. University of Iowa representatives, she said, have offered their support "as we pursue this and set the pace."

Visits with peer schools around the country, Rasmussen said, indicate Iowa State's proposal is not unprecedented. However, it is out on the front edge.

"But this is Iowa. We're recruiting nationally for the best faculty and staff, and we don't have oceans or mountains to sell," she said. "Policies like this one can help make Iowa State competitive."

Faculty Senate president Max Wortman, who attended the council meeting, said the senate also would review a resolution this month expressing support for the proposed policy and disappointment in the regents' lack of action on it.

In other action, the council discussed a resolution regarding the future of the ISU cemetery in which the council wouldn't offer one majority opinion. A lack of consensus on a preferred option among numerous suggested, is the primary rationale behind the proposed resolution.

Facilities staff and vice president for business and finance Warren Madden have asked for input on options for the university's cemetery. At the current use rate, the cemetery will run out of land in five to 10 years. Campus planners need to know whether or how to set aside land for interment use in the next campus master plan.

The council will vote on the resolution at its March 6 meeting. Council elections will be held electronically, via AccessPlus, March 3-28. Seats are open in all six representation areas, so all P&S employees are eligible to vote.

As of Feb. 6, 10 candidates had indicated an interest in open seats. Here's the break out:

Area of representation
(as of Feb. 6)
Academic and research   5   3
Business and finance   1   2
External affairs   1   1
Extension   1   3
IPRT/Ames Lab   1   0
Student affairs   1   1

The P&S constitution requires six candidates in the A&R area and two in each of the other areas. For more information on nominating yourself or another, go to Candidate profiles will be available at the same Web site after the Feb. 21 nomination deadline.

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