Regents: All University of Iowa employees should have sexual harassment training

Training compliance rate has 'slipped a bit' in recent years, UI president Mason admits

Diane Heldt
Published: February 6 2013 | 5:50 pm - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 11:04 am in

The University of Iowa has work to do when it comes to ensuring that all employees complete sexual harassment training, President Sally Mason said Wednesday in the wake of an internal university audit.

The audit of university hiring and training practices was requested by Mason in the wake of the Peter Gray sexual harassment scandal this fall. Presented to the state Board of Regents at a meeting in West Des Moines Wednesday, the audit found that as of Nov. 30, 2012, the Athletics Department was 100 percent compliant in attending the sexual harassment training, but that university-wide, that compliance rate was 81.6 percent.

That has slipped from a university-wide compliance rate of more than 90 percent in the first year after the sexual harassment training was implemented in December 2008, the audit reports.

"Clearly over the years we slipped a bit," Mason said. "I know where we have to do our work now."

The regents request that Mason report back at the April board meeting on the university's progress toward 100 percent compliance in sexual harassment training.

"Generally, the board was very pleased with the results of the audit," Regents President Pro Tem Bruce Rastetter said. "We think it's important when those situations happen that we understand clearly what is happening in terms of sexual harassment training and the need to protect students. I think what we would like to continue to emphasize, and President Mason will, is that we would like to try and move to university-wide 100 percent compliance on the training."

That can be difficult in large institutions that constantly have employees hired and leaving, Rastetter said, but the board believes it is of critical importance.

Beyond the findings about sexual harassment training compliance data, Mason said "there really weren't findings that were of concern beyond that" in the internal audit.

The sole recommendation from the audit was that the UI improve the compliance rate to ensure that all employees receive annual performance appraisals and that additional training on performance reviews be required of all supervisors. UI officials have agreed to the audit recommendations and expect to complete an action plan by April.

According to the audit, 24 out of 183 employees in the Athletics Department, or 13.1 percent, had not received an annual performance review, compared to a university-wide noncompliance rate of 8.4 percent for annual employee reviews. Mason said she did not believe Gray was among the Athletics Department employees who did not receive an annual review in the past year.

The audit also found that competitive searches were done in 82 percent of recruitments in athletics, compared to the university average of about 94 percent. Mason said that was not as concerning to her, given that athletics often has high-profile and quick searches for coaching jobs.

The audit recommends UI Athletics Department performance reviews be forwarded to centralized personnel files and there be additional training on the requirements for performance reviews.

As part of the audit, the sexual harassment investigation of former adviser Gray was reviewed to provide assurance that appropriate procedures and processes were followed in accordance with university policy. Todd Stewart, the UI's chief audit officer, said they were. The complaint against Gray was forwarded to the Provost's Office on Sept. 25, and the audit found that the university's sexual misconduct response coordinator was contacted that same day.

Once a formal complaint form was completed and signed, written findings were issued 20 days after the filing, Stewart said, compared to a normal expectation of 45 days.

Gray resigned Nov. 5 after the university investigation found reasonable belief that he violated the sexual harassment policy. Mason said after that incident that the university owed an apology, and that officials would examine university hiring processes and advising functions to make sure the best practices were being followed. Gray was the former associate director of athletic student services who worked for the department from 1993 to 1995 and was rehired in 2002.

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