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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Feb. 15, 2008

Leadership, performance and compensation top council talks

by Erin Rosacker

When executive vice president and provost Elizabeth Hoffman addressed members of the Professional and Scientific Council at their Feb. 8 meeting, the topics of leadership, performance appraisal and compensation highlighted the discussion.

Hoffman has formed an advisory committee to create an emerging leaders academy (available to both faculty and P&S staff), similar to a program she introduced at the University of Colorado. Former ISU faculty member and administrator J.D. Beatty, who also worked as Hoffman's chief of staff at Colorado, will return to Ames to help establish the academy.

The committee of faculty and P&S staff will develop the program, including budget and curriculum. Nominations likely will come from supervisors, and class sizes will be small, estimated around 20 per year.

"From my perspective, universities do a very poor job of developing the leadership skills of their own people," Hoffman said. "This is a way to develop the leadership skills of our people so they can be competitive in the search for [campus] leadership positions."

Hoffman anticipates the academy will see its first crop of participants in the summer of 2009. She said the program should complement, rather than compete with, the "12+" leadership program available through Human Resource Services. An alumni mentoring program also is part of her vision.

Performance management and summary dismissal

Hoffman said she is closely watching development of the P&S performance management policy.

"I'm giving a great deal of input every step of the way," she said. "I want to make sure that we have the best possible performance management policy, so that we can adequately, effectively and appropriately compensate P&S employees in the future on the basis of objective criteria."

The summary dismissal portion of that policy has been one of the sticking points in the development process. Although still part of the overall policy, it has been singled out for some fine-tuning of its own.

"We feel strongly that summary dismissal should not be used in place of performance appraisal," Hoffman said. "Summary dismissal should be used for those unusual, unexpected circumstances that are outside the ability of the supervisor and the employee to work through the process."

She said the process for summary dismissal still is being defined, but steps being considered could include:

  • Initiation of the process with human resource personnel in the appropriate vice president's (or president's) office
  • Handling appeals through a standing committee (similar to the one in the Faculty Senate), which would make recommendations to the executive vice president
  • Sending further appeals to the president and the Board of Regents, State of Iowa

"That is the process we are working on. I think we are very close to agreement that it is a fair process," Hoffman said.

Compensation structure report

Carla Espinoza, associate vice president for HRS, said a final report on ISU's compensation structure could be available soon. Towers Perrin, a consulting firm hired for the project last summer, should submit its recommendations for changes to president Gregory Geoffroy this month. The document will be available for public viewing and comment after that.

"This has been a study of our compensation structure and I'll be the first one to admit that I have some regrets," Espinoza said. "We allowed too much discussion of classifications. We should have stuck more with simply the comp structure, but we're down the road now and I think there are some decisions that need to be made and we'll move forward to get that done."

New policies likely will be a result of the report. Espinoza said implementation could include:

  • Changes in how certain jobs are weighted among a "family" of jobs, rather than across job standards
  • A move from yearly market analysis to reviews every two or three years
  • Ways to increase the pay grade base and maximum levels
  • A "reward for performance" program

"I'm excited about getting this closer to closure so that we can provide it to all of you for your input and thoughts," she said.

In other business, the council voted unanimously in favor of:

  • Continued free access to recreation facilities and services in State Gym and Beyer Hall if the proposed student-funded renovations and addition are approved
  • Request for HRS to recalculate market ratio data for 2005 and 2006 using the formula introduced in 2007; add 2007 comparison numbers to the business sector (not just an educational comparison); and publish changes made to the benchmark classifications used in the 2007 report.


Development of a P&S performance management policy is getting close attention, including work on a summary dismissal policy. P&S Council members also discussed a developing leadership academy and a compensation review report due out soon.