The University and Its Environment
February 20, 1995


This section examines the composition, numbers, and compensation of faculty and staff. It presents comparative data on diversity, size, faculty-student ratios, and salaries, and considers retirement patterns, recruitment issues, and levels of staff support for academic and nonacademic programs.

Faculty Size

The 1993-94 faculty (tenure track) numbered 1,783, of whom 1,292 (72%) were tenured and 491 (28%) nontenured faculty (see Table 5.1). This compares with 1,634 faculty in 1984-85 of which 75 percent were tenured and 25 percent were nontenured, as well as 1988-89 faculty of 1,639 which had the same percentage of tenured and nontenured professors. Over the past five years, tenured and tenure-track faculty have increased by 8.8 percent and non-tenure track faculty have increased by 10.3 percent. The data in Table 5.1 also show that, despite past concerns about becoming "tenured in," the proportion of tenured or tenure-track faculty has actually decreased slightly in recent years, largely because of the growth in non-tenure track faculty. In absolute numbers, however, the number of tenured faculty has increased only by 4.6% in the past five years and 5.9% in the past decade. All of these numbers are based on individuals and not on "full-time equivalents" (FTE) and therefore do not reflect partial appointments.
As shown in Table 5.2, most of the increase in non-tenure track faculty has occurred in the health sciences colleges, reflecting the important contribution of adjunct clinical instructors to the individual training of health professionals. The large percentage increase over the past decade results from classification changes to reflect the instructional role of professional staff in the health colleges and departments, particularly in the College of Nursing. Since some growth has occurred in other colleges as well, it may be useful to re-examine the policies and reasons for these additions. It should be emphasized again that these data are based on the number of individuals and do not indicate the amount of time committed to instructional activities. Many adjunct faculty members, particularly in clinical departments, serve for only a few hours per month.
The overall increase in tenure-track faculty by 144, though less than the 165 recommended in Achieving Distinction, reflects real growth in instructional capacity at the University. The fact that it occurred when student enrollments declined by about 2000 further improved student-faculty ratios. However, as shown in Table 5.3, much of the faculty growth occurred in the College of Medicine and did not impact undergraduate instruction in other colleges. It should also be noted that these improvements occurred well after a dramatic increase in enrollments during the late 1970's and early 1980's that was not accompanied by faculty growth.
Changes in the number of tenure-track faculty over the last five and ten years vary by college. Table 5.3 reports the changes over the past decade. Changes over the past five years mirror the ten-year changes with some exceptions: Dentistry and Nursing after declining for five years have been stable for the last five. (The decrease in Dentistry faculty is a consequence of a decision in 1980 to decrease the size of the program.) Engineering after some growth earlier has also been stable for the last five years. Most of the recent growth has been in the two largest colleges, the Colleges of Medicine and Liberal Arts. Medicine has shown continuous steady growth over at least the last 15 years; since 1988-89, it has increased by 92 tenure-track faculty positions. The College of Liberal Arts, after declining by 23 positions from 1984-85 to 1988-89, has since increased by 47 with most of the increase in the last year. All of these figures should be interpreted carefully as they include only tenure track faculty and neglect other categories of people who assist teaching programs (e.g., lecturers, instructors, adjunct and clinical faculty).

Comparative Faculty Size in Relation to Student Enrollment

The Environmental Assumptions of Achieving Distinction contained a detailed analysis of student-faculty ratios across comparable institutions. In the past five years, The University of Iowa has shown considerable improvement in the aggregate numbers, with the ratio based on full-time tenure-track faculty improving from 19.5 to 18.4 over the past five years. Some of our peer institutions have also improved (Michigan from 17.5 to 16.5 and Wisconsin from 20.1 to 18.0) and others like Illinois and Ohio State have slipped, making our relative position third among the public Big Ten universities. Table 5.4 reports the comparable student-faculty ratios for this group of universities, based on IPEDS reports that correct for faculty serving in primarily administrative positions. Again, caution in making interpretations is required because different institutions count differently and make different use of nontenure-track faculty.

Staff Size

The University has a history of having lower staffing ratios in support functions than those at peer institutions. For instance, the University is lowest among the CIC institutions in the number of human resources staff members per faculty and staff member employed. The University's purchasing staff is also proportionally smaller: per capita, this group far exceeds its peers in number of transactions completed and in amount purchased. Staffing in the library system is particularly notable for its inability to maintain parity in size with peer institutions, but low staffing levels continue to be a chronic problem in all facets of University functioning.
Although some growth has occurred in Professional and Scientific staff over the past five years, almost all of it has been funded by external grants and contracts. Merit staff has actually decreased, as mandated by state funding reductions in 1992. Consequently, many faculty and staff find their non-academic duties expanded, interfering with their primary responsibilities and lowering the quality of services provided.

Diversity of Faculty and Staff

Table 5.5 shows the proportion of female and minority faculty and staff from 1984 to 1993 by occupational category. Of the University's total work force in 1993, approximately 56 percent are women and 6 percent are minorities. The proportion of women in the overall work force has not changed much from 1979 when 54 percent were female, but the minority representation over that same time frame has grown from 3.9 percent to 5.9 percent, a 51 percent gain. The large numbers of women in the total work force come primarily from the professional nonfaculty (61% female), secretarial/clerical (86% female), technical paraprofessional (62% female) and service/maintenance (51% female) groups, figures that have been very stable for at least fifteen years.
Increases in female representation have primarily occurred in categories where the absolute numbers of workers are smaller, including administrative and faculty positions. However, the proportions of women and minorities in these occupational categories remain quite low. Only 21 percent of the tenure-track faculty and only 24 percent of the University's executives are women; while 11 percent of the tenure-track faculty and 8 percent of those in executive/administrative positions are minorities.
The low percentage of Professional and Scientific staff from racial and ethnic minorities (5.3%) reflects the fact that most of the P&S staff were recruited from within the state of Iowa, which has one of the nation's smallest minority populations per capita. The higher proportions of minority representation among faculty and administrative positions reflect, in part, national recruitment efforts. The percentage of minorities is also low in the secretarial, technical, skilled craft and service/maintenance areas, ranging from 2.0 to 6.4 percent, almost all of whom are recruited locally. There has been a small improvement in both P&S and Merit staff minority employment in the past five years.
Table 5.6 reports the number of minority faculty by college in the Fall Semester, 1993. The overall percentage of minority faculty at The University of Iowa has increased from 8.7 percent in 1989 to 11.2 percent in 1993. Every college remained the same or increased minority representation. Although the absolute numbers remain low in some categories, gains were noted in every reporting category: African American representation grew from 14 to 38 (2.1% of the faculty), Native American from 4 to 6 (0.3%), Asian American from 95 to 122 (6.8%), and Hispanic from 23 to 33 (1.9%). The gains suggest that recruiting efforts are showing success, but concerns are being voiced about difficulties in retaining minority faculty.

Faculty and Staff Salaries

Table 5.7 reports the average faculty salary for the public Big Ten universities and shows that in 1993-94, Iowa ranked third among the ten comparison universities. (Salary data for all institutions exclude faculty serving in clinical departments in medical colleges.) Third place is a marked improvement over the seventh place ranking in 1988-89 and reflects the successful implementation of the salary improvement program in the late 1980's. However, as Table 5.7 indicates, average salaries differ little (with the exception of the University of Michigan) and slight changes can affect the relative rankings greatly. Salary increases over the past three years have been at or slightly below inflation and it remains to be seen whether Iowa can hold its position as other universities make adjustments. Preliminary indications, based on 1994-95 salary increases, suggest that Iowa will drop two places in this year's rankings. However, comparisons of institutional rankings have little to do with competitive pressures in specific disciplines. In order to compete for faculty and staff in priority areas, it is necessary to pay closer attention to discipline-specific salary distributions. Market pressures both from within academia and outside drive salaries more than institutional differences.
The program now underway to enhance stipends for teaching and research assistants also represents a significant improvement in instructional compensation. Iowa has lagged behind its peers in paying Teaching and Research Assistants; improvement in stipends beginning in 1994-95 will increase competitiveness and improve the quality of this vital component of instruction.
The commitment in the late 1980's to providing double-digit faculty salary increases led to a "decoupling" of average salary increases for faculty and P&S staff, a change in what had been the prevailing pattern. The decoupling created a sense among P&S staff that their contribution to the University was not properly valued. Faculty and P&S salary increases have been recoupled in the last few years, but the relatively low percentage of salary increases in recent years has mitigated the effect of equal increments. In 1990 UI hired a consultant to evaluate P&S compensation and salary compression was identified as a major problem. The University adopted the recommended solution and has implemented it over the past three years, producing some improvement in P&S compensation, particularly among health care professionals. Structural problems still exist, however, partly because Merit staff pay scales, negotiated through bargaining units, have had the largest percentage increases in recent years. The current overlap in salary scales for Merit and P&S staff may not adequately reward the education and experience that professional staff bring to the University.
For Professional and Scientific staff, there are seventeen pay grades at The University of Iowa. Table 5.8 reports the number of males, females, minorities, and non-minorities in each pay grade as of October 1, 1993. The majority of P&S staff in grades 1-9 are women, including many health care professionals. The proportion of women at pay grades 10 through 18, although lower than those in grades 1-9, has increased since 1980 from 28.1 percent to 40.4 percent; the proportion of minority group members in these administrative and supervisory positions has also increased from 2.8 percent in 1980 to 4.6 percent in 1993. The expanded recruitment required by the Office of Affirmative Action for all P&S positions that are 50 percent time or more should enhance the likelihood of a diverse pool of women, men, minority, and non-minority applicants from which to choose candidates who best meet the University's needs.

Faculty Recruitment, Resignation, and Retirement

In 1989 concerns were expressed about both the aging of the faculty and an impending shortage of candidates for faculty positions. Table 5.9 presents the age distribution of tenured and tenure-track faculty by college for 1993-94 faculty. The table suggests no striking differences across colleges nor any serious problems in representation of older faculty. Mandatory retirement for college and university faculty at age 70, an exception to national employment regulations forbidding a mandatory retirement age, ended in 1993. It is too early to determine whether retirement patterns at UI will be affected by the cancellation of the policy requiring retirement at age 70.
With respect to projected faculty shortages, the University experienced no difficulty in the past five years in identifying and recruiting well-qualified faculty. However, the University's success in recruitment was abetted by extreme cutbacks in hiring at many competitive universities as well as some programs of layoffs and early retirements elsewhere. As the national economy recovers, it is not clear whether competitive factors will change hiring patterns in higher education.
During each of the past four years (1989-1993), faculty resignations numbered 59, 63, 53, and 58. Approximately 60 percent of resigning faculty accepted positions at other institutions of higher education; the next most prevalent reason for resignation was to enter the private sector. The number of female faculty resignations during each of the years reported above was 15, 17, 13, and 13, continuing the same level of about 25 percent female departures reported during the previous five years. The number of minority faculty resignations is too small to determine any consistent patterns. All colleges in the University have initiated mentoring and orientation programs for new faculty.

Academic and Nonacademic Support Staff

An increasing number of professional and scientific positions filled at the University require advanced professional or scientific expertise with educational qualifications and/or experience comparable to faculty positions. While most of these positions are funded by grants and contracts, many are also part of the basic academic support programs on campus. Accordingly, P&S staff often serve an instructional role or participate in close support of instructional components of many programs. Both to enlarge the pool of potential applicants and to support Affirmative Action goals, recruitment plans to fill P&S vacancies often include regional or national advertising, similar to efforts used to recruit faculty.
Consequently, it is to be expected that many P&S staff members have high expectations for career development, strong ties to national professional communities, leadership roles in local, regional, and national professional organizations, and publication records in their disciplines. Indeed, their advancement in both professional standing and institutional careers may require demonstration of continuing contributions in research. Professional activity also facilitates University missions by promoting research expectations among advanced students, supporting faculty scholarship, and increasing extramural support possibilities.
Many P&S staff members are concerned about low levels of support for their professional developmental activities and the lack of a well-specified career path and promotion system for some P&S positions. Promotion standards may require evidence of continuing professional activity, but if support for such activities is not available, the institution may be forced to recruit externally rather than develop local talent, at a cost to both morale and recruitment budgets. Furthermore, the lack of advancement opportunities is likely to contribute to dissatisfaction and to result in loss of experienced people to the private sector.
There is a parallel concern about opportunities for career development and advancement among merit staff who often express the feeling of being "locked in" to positions that have no opportunity for growth. Programs of staff development can be employed to identify and train skilled employees, reduce turn-over, and raise the effectiveness of all programs.
The University needs to provide more support for advancement within the promotion and compensation system, especially for women and minorities. Support for professional development provides an alternative way for UI to improve the morale of P&S staff and to retain quality individuals if adequate changes in salary or career tracks cannot be made.


The following inferences are suggested: (1) the overall diversity of faculty and staff has improved, but concerns remain about retention and distribution in poorly represented areas; (2) the University has made significant gains in the size of the faculty in the past five years, improving overall student-faculty ratios, but distribution of faculty and staff to critical areas of high demand remains a problem; (3) programs of career advancement and improved compensation are needed, particularly for P&S staff, and (4) patterns of retirement and potential faculty shortages still remain uncertain.