President Steven Leath spoke at the Feb. 9 Faculty Senate meeting, updating senators on several topics. The following are highlights from Leath's remarks.
President Leath will present ISU's budget priorities to the Iowa Legislature's education appropriations subcommittee on Thursday, Feb. 11 (10 a.m.).
We made what the Legislature and the governor called an aggressive request this year -- 4.5 percent, over $8 million in recurring new money. I really don't think it's that aggressive and it's a fraction of what we really need, but it's probably as far as we could go this year.
To get a 16-to-1 [faculty/student] ratio, we'd have to hire 300 new faculty this year alone and gain no new students to get where we need to be. That's probably not a realistic number, but it helps put our request that they think is aggressive in context, that it's not unreasonable.
We're clearly the choice of higher education in the state. The concern is -- I've said this for four years to you folks and for four years to the governor and the Legislature -- access and affordability without quality is not a good value. As we look at growing again in the fall, I do have some nervousness. I think we're at a tipping point. Without significant new resources and with continued growth, something has to change.
I think we have support from the board leadership that if we don't get what we're asking for from the Legislature, we'll have permission to raise tuition. How we raise it, how much we raise it, how differential it is, will be largely our decision.
There has been a major emphasis on diversity and inclusion. Not necessarily just as a stand-alone, afterthought item, but it's going to be embedded through the entire strategic plan.
I don't know that there's been a more impactful time in Iowa State's recent history, when you start thinking about searches and filling job vacancies, than right now.
I'm probably going to make some changes in how we're structured at the top level of the university.
[Buchanan II] will not completely alleviate our housing shortage, but it will go a long way with well over 700 beds. We're working with [residence director] Pete Englin on some innovative new ways to deal with housing, construction and leasing, and we look forward to what we're going to do next.
Pedestrian safety has gotten to be a real issue. We have to recognize there's more inherent danger on those high-traffic pedestrian areas. We've partnered with the city and we've hired a traffic consultant who's worked in Ames a number of times to start immediately and look at what we're going to do short term and long term to make Lincoln Way safer.
A lot of neat things are happening there. To make this a first-class research park and to continue to grow, we need amenities, which I've authorized. Work already started on a new restaurant. We've signed a new deal for a racquet and fitness club in the park. We're close to a deal on a health center. The big one we've almost figured out, but not quite, is a new child care center. So, you'll see much more of a community feel at the research park than before and hopefully we'll continue to recruit people.
I never thought the park was particularly noticeable to someone who's not from Ames, so we are going to look at all-new signage and features to really showcase the park and delineate the park. That's funded by a gift, so we're really excited about that.
We had a record year in FY 2015. The numbers look good this year, we're at $74 million right now. I think we'll reach our goal and raise well over $100 million again this year.
We're gearing up for our largest campaign ever, so we'll make a concentrated effort to raise very substantive money. We'll start that in September in a formal way.
Research numbers are up again and awards are nearly 30 percent over last year. The Grants Hub that [vice president for research Sarah Nusser] put in place has really made a huge impact. After just one year, they processed 79 proposals for over $94 million.
We have a great faculty, and they're getting a lot of the recognition they deserve.
Diversity and inclusion
Somebody asked me what my diversity plan is. It's a good question, a fair question, but it causes me some heartburn. In my experience, plans are really written to mitigate liability, reduce risk or appease people. I expect more than that here at Iowa State, from myself and hopefully from the entire university.
What I'm looking for is more of a diversity vision -- how we change and continue to change the culture here -- to not only be more diverse, but really to be more inclusive, more welcoming and to be a better university as a result of the way we've incorporated diverse views, ideas, perspectives and backgrounds into our culture.
I do have a goal to get a better understanding of what we mean by diversity and inclusion -- what we expect by it and where our vision is going to take us. I'm not sure we're all seeing it the same way. We probably don't have to, but we need to have a better understanding.
I want this to be a continual improvement, a continual cultural change on this campus so it just becomes part of us. I really want it to be a legacy.
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LAS departments merge
In other senate business, two departments in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences received unanimous approval from the senate to merge. Faculty in the anthropology and world languages and cultures departments initiated the merger with discussions in 2014. The combined departments will retain the WLC name and Chad Gasta will remain as chair.
Future plans call for moving all personnel and equipment to Pearson Hall. Anthropology labs in East and Curtiss halls will be maintained until space becomes available. Pending approval by ISU administration and the state Board of Regents, the merge will be official on July 1.
Same program, different name
Senators also approved a requested program name change in the College of Design. Stemming from an accreditation review, the request changes the bachelor of design program to a bachelor of arts in interdisciplinary design.
According to the request, the National Association of Schools of Art and Design required the name change in order for Design to maintain accreditation for all its art and design programs.
The program's curriculum will not change and it will remain independent of a department home (it is administered by the dean's office, through the design studies program). Senators fast-tracked the name change by introducing and approving it in the same meeting, sending it next to the ISU administration and then the regents for final approval.