Board accepts Des Moines higher ed report

A downtown location received the highest rating as a place for Iowa's regent universities to provide degree and certificate opportunities in a Des Moines metro area higher education needs assessment completed by consultants for the state Board of Regents. Factoring variables such as accessibility, visibility, anticipated startup and operating costs, potential for expansion and others, a West Des Moines location rated second and the AIB campus south of downtown Des Moines rated third.

Ray Thompson, vice president of higher education services for MGT of America, presented a final report to the board at its June 9 meeting. The board hired MGT of America last fall for $91,000 to complete the needs assessment. Pressed by board members about the AIB campus, which has been gifted to the University of Iowa, Thompson said it is an acceptable location. The report acknowledges concerns about dated infrastructure, its distance from downtown and safety/security, but that of all the options it is "ready to host students quickly."

Board president Bruce Rastetter suggested that the AIB site might work for "a couple of years as we get started."

President Steven Leath said Iowa State is committed to a regent-wide effort to address unmet educational needs in the larger Des Moines area. He also noted his past reservations about the quality and location of the AIB site, but said "we want to be involved."

Thompson said working adults "who are time- and place-bound" are the primary audience for regent university expansion in Des Moines, though that would vary some by academic discipline, location selected and course delivery format. High school and community college graduates are a secondary audience. Affordability and convenience for students are keys to success for any initiative, he said.

Thompson said the assessment identified needs for bachelor's and graduate degrees as well as certification and customized programs. He said there's an underserved need for bachelor's programs that prepare students for entry-level jobs in business, finance, accounting, human resources, financial management, data analytics, IT systems (including programming), civil and industrial engineering, teaching (particularly middle school and special education), agricultural science, and health and medical service management.

He said there's an underserved need for master's programs in business administration, finance, education administration (school district level), mental health counseling, and some health professions (nursing, occupational therapy).

The board voted 8-0 to accept the final report, but didn't discuss what they'll do with it.

Student financial aid

The following tables are compiled from university annual reports to the board on student financial aid.

Undergraduates: Who receives financial aid?





Iowa residents




   Total students




   Received aid

16,247 (84%)

15,025 (88%)

14,201 (88%)





   Total students




   Received aid

8,091 (75%)

6,588 (76%)

5,413 (77%)

Undergraduates: Who has debt at graduation?





Iowa residents








All undergraduates




Undergraduates: Size of debt for those graduating with debt





Average total debt




   All undergraduates




   Iowa residents








Average need-based debt




   All undergraduates




   Iowa residents




   Non residents





More ISU news

In other business, the board:

  • Received a summary from Leath on three campus safety initiatives, including campus police officers piloting the use of body cameras this year. Leath said all uniformed officers will wear them while on duty, and activate them during law enforcing actions.
  • Approved proposed salary parameters for faculty, P&S staff, contract staff (K base) and post docs for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Merit employees are covered by the terms of a two-year contract between the state and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
  • Approved appointments for Laura Dunn Jolly (Human Sciences dean), Kate Gregory (senior vice president for university services) and Michael Norton (university counsel); and altered assignments/titles for Jim Kurtenbach (vice president of IT services/chief information officer), Miles Lackey (chief financial officer/chief of staff) and Joe Murphy (assistant VP for government relations).
  • Completed performance evaluations for the university presidents but did not announce any decisions on compensation adjustments.
  • Appointed University of Northern Iowa provost Jim Wohlpart to serve as interim president of the university, effective July 3, and directed the board's executive director Robert Donley to meet with key constituent groups and develop a timeline for a presidential search. President William Ruud departs next month to become president of Marietta College, Ohio.
  • Approved a five-year lease ($1,000 annually) between Iowa State and Clearwater Crossing Lodge Inc. (a subsidiary of the ISU Foundation) for a 29-acre rural property west of Missoula, Montana, for use by the colleges of Human Sciences and Agriculture and Life Sciences. The property contains cabins, a small restaurant and various outbuildings suitable for student learning experiences. The Clearwater corporation is in the process of dissolving and gifted all of its shares to the ISU Foundation, which subsequently will become the landlord on the lease.
  • Approved the terms of a trust that will allow Iowa State to benefit from the gift of 389 acres (two parcels) of farmland in Worth County from Lavonne Gregory upon her death. As stipulated in her revocable trust agreement, the state would receive the land and the university would manage the farm, with net income to be split between the colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Veterinary Medicine and used in teaching and research related to companion animals.
  • Approved a revised budget ($6.1 million) for the kinesiology department's renovation project in the older part of the Forker Building. The $570,000 increase is due to a redesign of the work area for graduate students.
  • Approved the termination of the (inactive) Institute for Combinatorial Discovery, effective June 30.
  • Approved Iowa State's request to replace the University of Arizona with Pennsylvania State University in its peer 11 group.