Late tuition change surfaces for second straight year

Meeting April 20 in Council Bluffs, the state Board of Regents approved Iowa State's list of 52 faculty promotions and/or tenure for the 2017-18 academic year. A year ago, Iowa State had 58 requests. The new titles and promotions take effect in July for A-base (12-month) faculty and in August for B-base faculty.

2017-18 ISU faculty promotion and tenure





Promotion to associate professor with tenure




Promotion to professor (already tenured)




Promotion without tenure (affiliate)




Tenure without promotion








Tuition adjustment likely this summer

While there was no board discussion of the topic, departing board president Bruce Rastetter announced that he has asked board staff to work with the three university presidents on an additional tuition increase for 2017-18. Mid-year state funding cuts to the universities became permanent adjustments to their bases. At Iowa State, those cuts totaled $8.99 million. Last week, the 2017 Legislature cut an additional $2.53 million from ISU's operating appropriation for the fiscal year that begins July 1. That adds up to 6.2 percent less state support than Iowa State received last July 1.

In December, the board approved increases of 2 percent for Iowa State's resident undergraduates and 3 percent for all others, as well as new three-year differential tuition packages for juniors, seniors and graduate students in five academic programs.

Rastetter said the discussion so far has focused on an additional increase of "just north of 3 percent."

"There's going to be harm to the quality of education if we don't fill in those cuts," Rastetter said. "It's really a different dynamic the regents are facing than we've seen the last six to eight years, where there's dramatically decreased state revenues and the state chooses to not fund the public universities -- in fact, to significantly cut the base."

Rastetter and regent Katie Mulholland's terms end on April 30, and incoming regents Nancy Boettger and Nancy Dunkel's terms begin May 1. Tuition adjustments require a 30-day notice and review at two board meetings. Rastetter said the likely scenario is a telephonic meeting at the end of May for the first review of a tuition increase and final review at the board's meeting scheduled for June 6-8.

Rastetter also said planning is underway for a summer gathering of regent and legislative leaders to talk about state funding and tuition at the regent universities. He said the state needs a "holistic approach" to how it funds education and a conversation about whether it actually can afford all of its education systems. These include the PreK-12, community college and public university systems. He said it also includes the $50 million Iowa Tuition Grant program, which gives aid to Iowa students attending Iowa's private colleges.

"If there's a change [in how public higher education will be supported], legislators need to tell us that earlier and be involved in the discussion, rather than the regents having to react like we did today," Rastetter said.

Salary appeals

Faculty Senate president Jonathan Sturm and Professional and Scientific Council president Clayton Johnson were among regent employees invited to present comments to the board before it sets salary policies for the next fiscal year.

In his comments (PDF), Sturm said higher student numbers putting more expectations on faculty already stretched thin, compounded by declining state support, has created "a tipping point." Faculty will need to consider cutting course offerings and the curriculum, he said.

Sturm also noted that "passing the state's support of education on to individuals undermines the very ideal of public education. But if the state will not assume its share of the responsibility to fund public education under the Morrill Act, it then becomes the regents' responsibility to raise tuition to ensure that ISU can continue to provide a world-class education and research agenda."

Sturm asked the regents "to work together with university administration, faculty and staff to convince the Legislature soon that equating smaller government with smaller education is a poor bargain for the people of Iowa and our nation."

In his comments, Johnson presented ISU's Student Counseling Service to the board as an example of P&S employees over the last five years meeting "increased needs head-on and creating new and innovative ways to serve our community." But a campus environment of "increased workload, maintaining quality service, lack of space and salary stagnation with little or no recognition" takes a toll on morale, he said.

He noted that P&S employees will have a central role in implementing numerous big changes, including a classification and compensation system review, new learning management system, rollout of an enterprise resource planning system and several leadership searches.

"Please help us to retain our valuable employees and maintain the excellent service we provide on a daily basis," Johnson said.

Rastetter said the board supports rewarding good employees, rather than giving across-the-board salary increases.

Presidential candidate

In the closing minutes of the meeting, regent Larry McKibben, who has two years left on his six-year term, announced his candidacy for board president. During a May 1 telephonic meeting (10 a.m.), the nine board members will elect their new leaders. McKibben chairs the board's audit, compliance and investment committee and is serving as interim chair of its University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics committee. He also led the board's TIER (Transparent Inclusive Efficiency Review) effort.

Other business

In other Iowa State-related business, the board approved:

  • Flat parking permit rates for all ISU permits, effective July 1, and $5 (partial year) to $12 (full year) increases to Memorial Union ramp permits. The illegal exit fine for the ramp also will rise $20, to $120.
  • Budgets and project descriptions for the reconstruction of Welch Road/Union Drive between Lincoln Way and Bissell Road, including storm sewer piping ($3.2 million); and a west campus chilled water distribution project ($8.5 million), which also will have the net effect of reconstructing Bissell Road
  • Two new research units: the Crop Bioengineering Center, under the umbrella of the Plant Sciences Institute; and the Nanovaccine Institute, formalizing an interdisciplinary, multi-institutional research venture established in 2013 as part of ISU's Presidential Interdisciplinary Research Initiative. Both units will be funded entirely by outside grants and contracts (no tuition or state funds).
  • Residence and dining rates for 2017-18. Residence hall and apartment rates will go up about 3 percent (in whole dollar amounts), with the exception of Schilletter and University Village apartments, where the increase is 2 percent. Meal plan increases are less than 1 percent; meal blocks and guest rates in the dining centers will go up about 3 percent. 
  • Three appointments: Laura Doering as associate vice president for enrollment management and student success, effective March 20; John Lawrence as interim vice president for extension and outreach, effective March 31; and Pat Halbur as interim dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, effective June 1
  • A new online/distance education degree program: Master of Human Computer Interaction, a coursework-only program designed for professionals working in the industry who want to focus on practice, not research. It will complement Iowa State's M.S., Ph.D. and professional certificate programs in HCI, all of which launched in 2003.
  • Two name changes: women's studies program becomes the women's and gender studies program (College of Liberal Arts and Sciences); Center for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Education becomes the Center for STEM Education (College of Human Sciences)
  • The sale of $24.175 million of refunding bonds to advance refund $25 million in academic building bonds. The original bonds were sold in 2008 to pay part of the cost of constructing Hach Hall. Lower interest rates will save the university an estimated $2.66 million.