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Speaking for staff
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Following are remarks presented to the Iowa Board of Regents at the board's April 26 meeting in Cedar Falls, where representatives from faculty and staff groups at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa spoke about salary policy. See also comments by Linda Snetselaar, president of the UI Faculty Senate.
Good day. I am Earlene Erbe, president of the Staff Council at the University of Iowa and administrator of undergraduate laboratories in the Department of Chemistry in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
I have been in my current position for nearly six years, but I have been with the university for over 23 years. I started doing research in the College of Pharmacy in the 1980’s, left the university for a brief time, and then returned to do research with a small company brought to the University’s Oakdale Campus—now the UI Research Park—through the Technology and Innovation Center
That company grew and moved off-campus, at which time I moved over to the State Hygienic Laboratory, where I worked for 17 years as a chemist. I am personally invested in the University of Iowa and also strongly committed to its success.
That is why I am very pleased to be invited here today to speak to you as president of the Staff Council, representing approximately 5,600 professional and scientific, merit exempt, and confidential staff. I have two points I want to make for you today.
My first point: The staff I represent are an integral and essential part of the university. Students are obviously the focus of the educational mission, so their thoughts and suggestions are highly valued. Staff at the university are also its students.
More than 2,800 of our 5,600 staff have at least one degree from the UI. They come to our campus to get an education and stay to utilize their knowledge and skills, and to be a part of that educational process. They are invested in their university.
Many of our staff also are parents of UI students. Their investment is more than time—it is money, and it is the very precious future of their children. Staff are committed to the success of the university as professionals, as students, as parents.
Along with its educational successes, the university is a premier research institution. Research dollars awarded to the university account for a significant portion of the university’s budget and create opportunities for a high level of educational exploration.
In 2011, staff members served as principal investigators for $43.5 million dollars worth of grants at the UI, which was 9.5 percent of the total research dollars awarded to the university.
In the last five fiscal years (2005-2011) staff research grants totaled $262.1 million dollars—12.4 percent of total research dollars. Staff make a difference in a very measurable manner.
The third aspect of the university’s mission is service. Staff are very proud to participate in both university-sponsored service and service in the Iowa communities where they live.
Testing drinking water to orchestrating cultural events to contributing time and money to charitable organizations, UI staff provide services to their communities and act as goodwill ambassadors out of respect for their community and dedication to their institution.
My second point: Staff want to be respected for the essential roles they play in the success of the university.
This respect allows staff to take ownership of the job they do; to be proud when it is successful and to want to work harder if it fails; to have a place at the table to give input when decisions need to be made; to have the opportunity to integrate their skills and institutional knowledge into functions, processes and organizations throughout all levels and areas of the university.
President Mason and her administration show great respect for staff. She meets with us on a very regular basis, asks for our input whenever issues arise, and most recently spoke at our Staff Council meeting to thank us for our ongoing support.
In her comments, the president observed that the mission of the university would be much, much diminished without our staff, and in fact for many students, it is interaction with staff that provides the positive face of the university.
This respect is what staff want, because when you are respected, you and your efforts are valued, and that value is recognized with appropriate financial rewards.
I am grateful you have invited me here to speak on behalf of staff at the University of Iowa, and my request to you is give us your respect. From that respect, the appropriate financial rewards will follow, and our true value to the university will be recognized.
In summary, I believe staff make a tremendous contribution to the University of Iowa and both deserve and appreciate the continued support of the Board of Regents, the governor, the legislature, and the citizens of Iowa.
Thank you for the opportunity to present to you today and for our continued respect and appreciation for the vital role staff play at the University of Iowa.