June 10, 2010

Council closes the books on 2009-10

by Erin Rosacker

The Professional and Scientific Council wrapped up this year's business at its June 3 meeting with a unanimous vote to approve bylaw changes. Council members also spent time discussing vacation/sick leave management questions with ISU administrators.

The first bylaw change adds the chair (or designee) of the compensation and benefits committee to the council's university planning and budget committee. The second allows the representation committee to review and rectify voting irregularities.

Spurred by a question about a state Board of Regents efficiency study, vice president for human resource services Carla Espinoza talked about leave management issues, one idea the regent institutions are examining as part of a cost-savings effort. One of those components is paid time off (PTO), which she said Iowa is taking a look at in light of "a national trend in that direction."

Executive vice president and provost Elizabeth Hoffman said ISU's university committee on women already has given PTO a strong endorsement, and that faculty could favor a move in that direction. Espinoza pointed to union contracts and Iowa code as major obstacles for any decisions.

"Our initial commitment is to study best practices," Espinoza said. "We're a long way from PTO."

Council past president Camille Schroeder said ISU leaders should recognize this as a sticky issue for P&S staff.

"When it's presented as a cost-saving measure, people might get a bad taste in their mouth -- whether it's bad or not," Schroeder said. "There is a lot of sensitivity out there."

Espinoza said the regents schools will provide their cooperative research and review of human resource areas in three or four months and a long-term study will look at the consequences of the findings. She expects the board "will be driving this hard in November or December."

Other news

  • Espinoza said there are no definitive layoff numbers to report, but there will be relatively few losses of existing personnel in relation to the number of position eliminations. "There has been a lot of change, but the net loss is not as substantial as you might think," she said.
  • Espinoza reported that 90 applications for the RIO2 plan have been approved, while 14 were denied. She said 18 applicants (11 P&S, six merit and one faculty) have been approved for the RIO3 program, including eight who switched from their original RIO2 request. Ten of the RIO3 applicants chose the extended medical coverage and eight picked the retirement savings incentive. The RIO2 application deadline was June 1; the RIO3 deadline is Aug. 1.
  • Hoffman announced that the Emerging Leaders Academy will be suspended for a year. She said a drop in this year's enrollment likely was due to budget concerns (units have to pay a fee for their participants). The leadership development program, which will graduate its second class of faculty and staff participants in December, is scheduled to begin again in January 2012.