Interim president Ben Allen spoke briefly to campus leaders at the May 4 President's Council. Below are his comments on a few topics.
On returning to Iowa State
I'm honored to come back and work as interim president. Iowa State is a great institution, and I see lots of change from when I last worked on campus. It's different, it's exciting, it's better and I appreciate all that you all have done to make that happen.
On his preparation for the interim presidency
I arrived on April 17. I'm trying to meet with as many people as possible, to get an understanding of where we are. It's an exciting time, and I've been very much impressed with what I've heard. As interim president, there's always an issue about what decisions you take, what decisions you make and what decisions you should pass on to the next president. I do know this: We cannot have a passive interim president for the time period I'm here. I need your support, we need to keep moving forward.
On funding public higher education
We need to manage state funds -- and we do. But we need more state funds. [The regent universities] didn't receive appropriate treatment this year, in my opinion. We also need to prepare for fiscal year 2019. We'll be making our case soon and meeting with then-governor [Kim] Reynolds this fall. We need to work together to make sure we have the most compelling arguments for state funding, and work with student leaders and others on affordable tuition that will help maintain the quality of this institution.
On the importance of private fundraising
In these times, private funding is extremely important, so we need to keep moving forward with our capital campaign. When the president leaves a university and donors have been attached to his vision and his work, it's very important that we maintain those relationships with donors. If you think I can help -- or, if you're afraid I'd kill the deal -- please talk with me. We can't lose any donors.
I want you to know I understand and share one of your concerns, that we're at a perfect storm of uncertainty. The university president is leaving. The board of regents leadership is changing. And on campus, we have a lot of change going on -- the P&S classification study, Workday implementation, Chapter 20 changes [Iowa code governing collective bargaining]. We need to work together and in a careful manner so that all the good, hardworking people at Iowa State feel supported.