Four priorities guide planning for FY14 and beyond

Four overarching priorities will guide both effort and budget planning at Iowa State over the next several years. President Steven Leath first shared the four with his budget cabinet in September and the University Budget Advisory Committee last week. If you were taking notes during his Sept. 14 installation address, you heard them in there, too.

Work has begun to develop budgets for the fiscal year that begins next July 1, but the final product will rely noticeably on two variables: state appropriations and the size of the student body. University leaders have proposed zero to small tuition increases next year, as well no increases to mandatory student fees.

Using the current strategic plan as a starting point, Leath identified these priorities:

  • Maintain academic excellence. For example, this might include efforts to keep college affordable for students, strengthen the student experience at Iowa State and retain high-quality faculty.
  • Enhance the university's basic and applied research footprint. Examples include the new Presidential Initiative for Interdisciplinary Research and expanding opportunities to collaborate with external partners on applied research.
  • Promote economic development. Examples include expanding the ISU Research Park to assist the state's efforts to attract key industries to Iowa, and improving the university's economic development framework to make it more transparent and flexible.
  • Improve the campus environment. Examples could include everything from initiatives that emphasize diversity and employee wellness to campus beautification projects.

Assistant vice president for financial planning and budgets Dave Biedenbach said the priorities will influence operating budgets, building projects and hiring decisions during the next few years.

Budget planning

The university's senior vice presidents -- for academic affairs, business and finance and student affairs -- are using these university priorities to set their own division priorities and guide their budget planning. Their preliminary budget plans for FY14 are due to Leath in January, followed by updates in April and final or near-final budgets in May.

State funding request

On behalf of Iowa State, last month the state Board of Regents requested a 2.6 percent incremental increase to the university's operations appropriations for FY14. That's about $4.4 million for the general university and about $2.5 million in total for eight units or programs that receive a direct appropriation (such as the Agriculture Experiment Station, Leopold Center or the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab). The percentage is equivalent to the projected median of the Higher Education Price Index for FY14.

Additionally, Iowa State will ask for $7.5 million in one-time state funding to support additional research efforts in the bioeconomy. The funds would support world-class research facilities, new research programs and the preparation of additional grant applications.

The board asked for permanent funding for the $3 million Regents Innovation Fund (Iowa State's share is $1.05 million) and continued funding ($4.7 million) for the three-university STEM initiative. And the board will ask for $39.5 million to set up a tuition grant program for in-state undergraduate students with financial need who attend one of the three regent universities.

Included in the board's capital (building) funding request to the state for FY14 is $5 million to begin planning for a new biosciences building at Iowa State.

The governor and Legislature use these requests in building their proposed state budgets.