Meeting Wednesday in Ames, the state Board of Regents set tuition rates for the 2016-17 year, but pledged to revisit the issue following the 2016 legislative session if state support for the three universities next year falls short of the board's appropriation requests. "Conditional" was part of the motion approved on a 9-0 vote, and student regent Rachael Johnson asked for clarification on what that meant.
"We've asked the state to support more the public universities, rather than placing the burden on student debt," said board president Bruce Rastetter. "If we're not successful, it's my recommendation that this board come back and revisit tuition increases. Because, at the end of the day, the universities need the resources to compete and improve programs and maintain quality."
In September, the board approved incremental state funding requests of $8.2 million for Iowa State, $7.6 million for Northern Iowa and $4.5 million for Iowa, for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2016.
"It's critical for us to gain that state support," Rastetter said, "and we will be back here talking about tuition increases if we don't get that state support."
The board approved a tuition freeze for the 2016-17 year for Iowa State and Northern Iowa resident undergraduates – who will have a 3 percent increase this spring semester -- and a 3 percent increase ($200) for Iowa resident undergraduates. Board members approved increases for all other Iowa State students, including:
- A 3 percent increase ($594) for nonresident undergraduates
- A 3 percent increase for all graduate students (range of $244-$632)
- A 4 percent increase ($826) for veterinary medicine resident students and a 3 percent increase ($1,386) for nonresidents
The board also approved Iowa State's supplemental tuition request, $500 per year for three years, for current and new nonimmigrant, noncitizen international students. The revenue would help cover costs of additional services needed for international students, currently funded by all students.
Finally, the board approved a $33.50 increase to ISU's mandatory student fee, split between a $20 health fee increase and a $13.50 student services fee increase. The mandatory student fee next year for Iowa State students will range from $1,075 to $1,337.
Faculty development assignments
The board approved 31 professional development requests for Iowa State faculty for the 2016-17 academic year. The group includes 18 men and 13 women. Fifteen of the proposals will occur during the fall 2016 semester, and eight each in the spring semester and the full academic year. Projects include completing books, spending the year as a Fulbright scholar, doing field research, working abroad with current collaborators and developing a course. A summary of proposed faculty projects is online (Iowa State's faculty list begins on page 25).
Associate provost for faculty Dawn Bratsch-Prince told board members that Iowa State has several expectations for proposals that receive a green light:
- Outcomes of the professional development assignment will benefit students
- Work completed will improve a faculty member's leadership in his or her discipline
- Iowa State's university reputation will be enhanced
The board approved requests on three previously announced construction projects. They are:
- The schematic design and budget ($11.5 million) for plans to enhance a 10-acre space between the south end of the football stadium and Reiman Gardens -- phase three of stadium improvements. The proposed plaza will include a water fountain, trees, grass areas, new drives and walkways, and a storm water filtering area. The project will be paid for with private gifts, athletic facilities bonds (sold previously) and athletics department and university funds. The number of parking spaces south of the stadium will be reduced, said senior vice president for business and finance Warren Madden. Work is anticipated to begin in spring 2016 and be completed by next winter.
- A revised $7.9 million budget (an increase of $1.7 million) for the dining center renovation at Friley residence hall. The project will convert inactive dining and kitchen areas into a food court with four venues (instead of two), and student and private dining spaces, and create a new east entrance to Friley Hall. ISU Dining will operate this dining center. Work could begin in June 2016 and be completed in June 2017.
- A $5.5 million renovation in the Forker Building for the kinesiology department. The project will convert underused ground-floor men's locker rooms to faculty and graduate student offices, replace exterior windows in the new office area, create new restrooms, replace mechanical equipment and install a fire sprinkler system in the 1940 portion of the building. Work will begin in spring 2016 and should be completed by fall 2017.
Honorary degrees, bond sale
In other business, the board approved Iowa State proposals to:
- Award honorary doctoral degrees on Dec. 19 to Iowa State and Ames High alumna and international economist DeAnne Julius and Iowa businessman Eugene Sukup.
- Demolish the Spangler Geotechnical Lab (built in 1949) and attached storage building (built in 1983) east of the Applied Sciences Complex. The facility is functionally obsolete and its functions were relocated to other College of Engineering facilities. The estimated demolition cost is $250,000.
- Issue $12.1 million in bonds to advance-refund $18 million in academic building revenue bonds sold in 2007 to finance parts of two projects: the veterinary teaching hospital and diagnostic lab and the Coover Hall addition and renovation. Payments on the 2007 bonds were to have begun in July 2016 and continue into 2027. Lower interest rates will save the university nearly $1.3 million.