Audience of 730 welcomes Vice President Joe Biden

February 19, 2015 6:00 AM


THREE DRAKE STUDENTS were selected to ask Biden questions during his Q & A segment following the speech. PHOTO BY ALLISON TREBACZ | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

THREE DRAKE STUDENTS were selected to ask Biden questions during his Q & A segment following the speech. PHOTO BY ALLISON TREBACZ | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Not many people can say that Vice President Joe Biden left a voicemail for their mom. After this morning, senior Public Relations and Politics double major Kayla Day can.

“I’m here with Kayla at Drake and she said ‘Mom won’t believe I was with you.’ She is with me. It was great meeting her. I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to meet you. It is such a great school,” Biden said in the voicemail.

After lining up at 6:30 a.m. in freezing temperatures, Day got front row seats to see Biden speak at Drake University.

“Not going to lie, that was a dream come true,” Day said.


Are all professors created equal?

February 18, 2015 6:00 AM


Female faculty at Drake University are making up to 12 percent less on average than their male colleagues.

The 2012-2013 data provided by Drake to the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) shows that the average wage discrepancy increases as women move up in the ranks. Assistant professors are paid four percent less, amounting to a difference of around $400. Associate professors make 11 percent less, a difference of $2,500. Full-time professors make 12 percent less for a yearly difference of $13,500.

“I am not saying that there is a nefarious intent there but the outcome is real,” sociology professor Darcie Vandergrift said. “In the day that those data are handed out it does feel like ‘oh my work is less valued than men’s work’.”

Availability of data

Vandergrift said that information has been distributed three times since she joined Faculty Senate. Several faculty expressed frustration that this information is not widely available or being discussed.

“I was aware that these are national trends,” marketing professor Radostina Purvanova said. “I was never aware this was true at Drake. That information should be more publicly available so that female professors can have more of a voice.”

Sociology professor Michael Haedicke echoed Purvanova’s statement.

“I do not think there is much broad discussion about gender inequality in pay,” Haedicke said. “There is the beginning of the discussion, but not a full conversation. One thing that would need to happen would be for the information to be widely available.”

President of Student Activists for Gender Equality Samantha Brenner was also unaware of the pay discrepancy.

“I actually have not heard much about it and we have not really talked that much about it at SAGE,” Brenner said. “Our last discussion of the year is women in economics so we will, I assume, talk a lot about that. However, I would not necessarily think to include Drake.”

Since Drake is a private institution, the university is not required to release faculty salary information.

However, many feel that data directly from the university would help find the cause behind the pay gap.
“Every year those numbers demonstrate inequality in pay,” Vandergrift said. “The interesting question is why that is. We have not had anyone bring answers to those questions to Faculty Senate.”

Director of Institutional Research Kevin Saunders said that Drake is more focused on aggregate date. Though his office does not deal directly with faculty salary information, he did say that the AAUP findings merit further analysis.

“The short answers is that people are not blind to your questions,” Saunders said. “It is a sensitive topic and a lot of factors that contribute. My perception is that when you look at those graphs it raises a question. Anytime that the question is raised it is important to take that next step.”

The next step for many faculty is finding what causes the pay disparity.

Field difference

One cause of the pay gap could be the large number of men in higher paying fields of study. The majority of full time faculty, 45 percent, are male. They also represent the majority in the highest paying fields like law and business.

“When you are going off of an average a single high or low number can influence the average,” Saunders said. “Let’s imagine that there is a handful of really high paid faculty members who are also male. They are going to tend to pull that up.“

The three highest paid faculty members for the 2010-2011 school year were all male, according to the 2011 tax-exempt form filed by the university.

However, women are the majority in the college of pharmacy and health sciences.

While Vandergrift agrees that field disparity may cause the pay gap, she is not ready to accept it as the sole reason.

“While some factors may appear to be individual, due to individual choices, like what field you go into or taking parental leave,” Vandergrift said. “The social organization of everyday life impacts the way people make choices.”

Service work and tenure

She believes that other factors like the distribution of service work also plays a role.
“You look at who gets the services awards, women are much more represented there,” Vandergrift said. “When you look at the tenure and promotion criteria, scholarship is something that is a clear and extremely important.”

Due to time constraints, English Professor Jennifer Perrine believes it is harder for a professor to excel in areas more highly valued by the university when they are involved in service work.

“Generally you have to be regarded as excellent in all of those areas: teaching, scholarship and service,” Perrine said. “For women, female faculty are given or take on cumbersome service obligations and committee appointments whose effects are often not as tangible as teaching evaluations or having research published.”

The reasons why women are involved in more service work vary. Vandergrift believes that women are viewed as more naturally “nurturing”. Perrine believes it has to due with rank.

“Those people (full professors) in general are not going to be delighted to do cumbersome service work when they can pass it to untenured faculty,” Perrine said. “(Women) can also propagate it once we get tenure.”

Of the 170 tenured professors at Drake, 101 are male. However, Haedicke believes that the trend is well documented nationally.

“Within my department the service obligations are distributed,” Haedicke said. “There are far more female and our department is chaired by a female. Service obligations are not just handed down. It is a question of if male faculty members find it easier to say no.”

Compounding effect

A survey conducted by LinkedIn showed that while 40 percent of men felt comfortable negotiating starting salary, only 26 percent of women felt comfortable. Several female professors said that they did not negotiate their salary when hired at Drake.

“When women are offered a salary they may feel less comfortable negotiating for a higher salary,” Perrine said. “Due to socialization, a lot of women do not have the option or think it casts an unfavorable light. Women would prefer to be liked rather than ask for what they want or need.”

Haedicke said that he did feel comfortable negotiating his starting salary but that there was not much room for discussion.

“I did, but Drake does not provide a lot of opportunity for negotiation,” Hadicke said. “There are really few things that people can negotiate.”

Purvanova said that she also felt comfortable but was unsuccessful in her attempt.

“I was not afraid that negotiating my starting salary was going to hurt me in any kind of way,” Purvanova said. “Maybe I was more willing to at least try the process because I know of the research that shows that women sell themselves short and are not willing to negotiate. I did not want to fall into that pattern. At least I tried.”

National trends

Drake does fall into a pattern. The AAUP survey showed the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa all had wage disparity between different gendered faculty members.

However, these trends do not satisfy all Drake professors.

“I am quite disappointed that these national trends are true at Drake,” Purvanova said.” That is not what the university claims to stand for. We supposedly stand for equality, for inclusivity. The pay disparity really does not live up to those high standards.”

Need for change

While money is not a consistently great motivator, Purovanova said, it can be a very effective demotivator.

“Drake is lucky that this type of information is not publicly available,” Purvanova said. “I would say that 99.9 percent of faculty are completely unaware of this information. If you are not aware you cannot be motivated or demotivated by it.”

Yet, money is not the ultimate goal.

“My point is that it is not about the number of dollars that you take home, Purvanova said. “It is that you are treated as a second-class citizen.”

“I would feel more valued as a faculty if I knew that Drake felt like as an institution it needed to be vigilant about this issue,” Vandergrift said.

Perrine said that any change would need to start with an inspection of the numbers.

“At a more institutional level, some more efforts being made to look at the numbers,” Perrine said. “For administrators who are approving salaries and raises looking at what they are offering.”

Brenner recommends that students voice their opinions.

“We have students here, who are paying tuition to go here and who therefore kind of have a say in what happens here,” Brenner said. “If people want to start a grassroots effort to change this it can happen. Other campuses have proved things like this work.”

A place to hear opinions on the subject is what Haedicke recommends.

“Conversations require collective energy, a place for people to have conversations, people who are invested,” Haedicke said. “That energy is invested elsewhere.”

Photo Gallery: Vice President Joe Biden visits Drake University

February 14, 2015 2:36 PM



Vice President Joe Biden speaks on economic policy, student debt

February 12, 2015 8:00 PM


Vice President of the United States Joe Biden addressed a crowded Sheslow Auditorium at Drake University mid-morning today regarding the White House’s economic policies.

Eight hundred thirty people were in attendance, according to Drake’s senior media strategist Aaron Jaco. The VP was introduced by several speakers including President David Maxwell, former Iowa Supreme Court chief justice and director of the Harkin Institute Marsha Ternus and Student Body President Joey Gale.

Biden apologized for the delay and thanked Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie for “(his) passport back into the city.” This was not Biden’s first visit to Drake.

“At least I don’t have to run a relay this time,” Biden said.

The event, which was sponsored by Student Senate, the department of political science and The Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement, garnered an attentive and eager audience.

“No one has more certitude about why he ran for office in the first place than Tom Harkin,” Biden said of the former Iowa senator. Harkin retired in January after serving for 40 years and donated 800 boxes of documents from his tenure in Senate to Drake University.

The main topic of the vice president’s speech was the state of the economy under President Obama’s six years in office, calling the 2008 depression “the great challenge of our time.”

“The truth of the matter is that the dreams of Americans were wiped out because of the Great Recession,” Biden said. “All told, Americans lost $16 trillion in wealth in 18 months.”

He continued to say that when Obama took office in 2008, the unemployment rate was at 10 percent and had since lowered to 5.7 percent.

“Stimulus can and does refine the economy,” Biden said.

He also discussed the wealth gap, the middle class and the necessity of “confidence in the capitalist system.”

“It’s not an accident that there’s been a greater concentration of wealth in the top one percent than any time since the 1920s,” Biden said. “Salaries have skyrocketed … 36 percent of profit has gone to increased dividends for stockholders.”

Biden’s speech was met with applause when he discussed education and the severity of student debt.

“Education is a right, not a privilege,” Biden said. “Six out of 10 jobs right now require more than 12 years of education.”

He later quoted his wife, Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden as saying “Any nation that out-educates us will out-compete us.”

Last month, President Obama released news for the proposal of two free years of community college.  Biden said this would come with requirements for applicable students, including the maintenance of a 2.5 GPA at minimum.

Following his address, Biden answered three student questions while walking among the front row and interacting with audience members. He said he loved speaking with students at universities because students “just get it, more than most.”

Student Body President Joey Gale emphasized the importance of the vice presidential visit. He said it was a great experience to have someone of such high caliber in Iowa, let alone at Drake, interested in discussing economic issues with college students.

“I love how he had a really clear message and he was very passionate but he made it (the speech) relatable to college students,” Gale said.

Photos courtesy of Allison Trebacz

$200 million raised from distinctlyDrake fundraising campaign

February 11, 2015 9:00 AM


The fundraising campaign distinctlyDrake has successfully raised its goal amount of money five months before its end, according to John Smith, vice president of alumni and development.

Publicly launched in October of 2010, this campaign proposed to raise $200 million by June 30, 2015, making this Drake’s biggest fundraising initiative in its history.

Now at an amount of over $201 million and with the campaign’s end in sight, Smith said that the program is still in full swing.

“We will not relax and become complacent as the last five months come up,” Smith said.

Smith oversaw the vast majority of this history-making campaign and handled the twists and turns of the campaign as it became inclusive of new projects.

For example, the recently constructed basketball practice facility was constructed through funding from distinctlyDrake, although it was not initially proposed when the campaign was launched.

“We had to be responsive and flexible to changes,” Smith said. “Campaigns run over a specific period of time,” Smith continued. “And when effectively managed, university fundraising campaigns reflect the universities existing strategic plans.”

The money will be allocated to a variety of different programs and projects including scholarships and faculty support.

The most notable project that will benefit from this campaign is the STEM initiative, a $65 million proposal to strengthen the programs and to create and renovate buildings for Drake’s departments of science, technology, education, math and health sciences.

“From the very beginning we always knew that revenue would be going toward the science departments,” Smith said.

Tom Delahunt, vice president of admissions and student financial planning, is enthusiastic about the funds that will go toward the creation of 175 new scholarship funds for incoming and returning students.

Delahunt hopes that this money will benefit students who have suffered financial difficulties since attending Drake.

“We want to help students who’ve had a parent lose a job or get sick,” Delahunt said. “We are looking to help the students that we have.”

The 175 scholarship funds represent an approximate amount of $46 million geared toward the financial aid of current students.

“We make a promise to students, and students make a promise to us,” Delahunt said. “This is going to sound cheesy, but once you are a part of the family, we want to stay a part of the family.”

Other projects where the effects of this historical campaign can be seen in the creation of the student archives, the establishment of the Harkin Institute and the acquisition of Senator Harkin’s papers, Smith said.

Thirty-six million was set aside for the enhancement of teaching and learning, according to distinctlyDrake’s homepage. This will also help create larger endowments for faculty positions.

Ann Samuelson, sophomore math and computer science double major, is excited by the incoming improvements to her major.

“We were in Howard Hall for a lot of our classes before,” Samuelson said. “It will be nice to have a building entirely devoted to what I am studying.”

Vice President Joe Biden to speak on economics tomorrow morning

6:00 AM


ICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES  Joe Biden, 72,  will speak about administrative economic policies tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. in Sheslow Auditorium.  PHOTO COURTESY OF THE WHITE HOUSE

ICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES Joe Biden, 72, will speak about administrative economic policies tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. in Sheslow Auditorium. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE WHITE HOUSE

It was announced Friday that Vice President Joe Biden will speak tomorrow from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. in the Sheslow Auditorium at Drake University.

Students are encouraged to attend the event, however, the deadline for reserving a ticket ended yesterday at 5 p.m.

His speech will reflect upon administrative economic policies, and is sponsored by Student Senate, the department of political science and The Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement.

Students, particularly Sarah Shambrook, senior Law, Politics and Society and rhetoric double major, sees this as a beneficial opportunity for Drake.

“Anytime you see a public figure, or politician or any who is out in the world doing what theyre doing, you benefit by seeing what they have to say,” Shambrook said. “We’re still learning and enriching our learning experiences. It’s a good learning experience, and then the fact that it’s a vice president.”

Joe Biden (Dem.) is the 47th vice president of the United States. After serving in office since 2009, some might wonder if he will use these visits to promote himself for the 2016 presidental campaign.

“He’s a politician, he does politics,” Shambrook said. “I think all politicians speak to crowds and audiences with a certain intent in mind, I don’t know what Biden’s intent is, but I think he is going to follow the script that is given to him or that he has researched and go off of that. He is going to treat us as a voting audience but I’m sure he is going to do his research into Drake student body and surrounding areas.”

Regardless of speculation, Student Body President Joey Gale identified the reason for Biden’s visit.

“This visit is identified as an official visit from the Vice President of the United States, and not a political/campaign visit,” Gale said.

Gale believes Student Senate sponsorship is an opportunity for discussion on campus.

“The Student Senate was asked to sponsor the event as we felt it would be an appropriate forum for students to engage in an open and productive exchange of ideas, and encourage students to take part in the discussion of political affairs,” Gale said.

Michelle Obama visited Oct. 10, and with Biden’s upcoming visit, some students are curious why two powerful democrats have appeared at Drake without a rebuttal from any republican candidates.

However, Gale assures that Drake is open to all political figures.

“As a tax-exempt educational institution, Drake does not endorse or oppose any political part or candidate for public office,” Gale said

“We’re all kind of millennials and especially with the election coming we are a voting public, Drake University is. Everyone is pretty much over 18,” Shambrook said.  “I think it could encourage people to vote which is a good thing, I also think it could encourage people to think harder about economics when it comes to the country and how we have a hand.”