Wickert to senate: State cuts affect resident students

During his remarks at the March 20 Faculty Senate meeting, senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert discussed the impact of an expected $11 million reversion of state appropriations for higher education. He said the Iowa Legislature seemed to be in agreement on the amount of the cut to the state Board of Regents for the current fiscal year.

"This is bad news," Wickert said. "Bad news is even worse because it's coming with only about three months left in the fiscal year to have to come up with this reversion amount.

"We don't have specific numbers yet on what this will mean for Iowa State University. It appears as though this may be a cut that would exempt the University of Northern Iowa."

Wickert said there is no word yet on funding for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

"Certainly, our position and our conversations with elected officials -- a high priority of the president -- is to make the case that these cuts should not become permanent and should not be included in the FY19 budget," Wickert said.

"We have 19,800 Iowa resident students here at Iowa State University. That's about 1,700 more than the University of Iowa and about 9,000 more than the University of Northern Iowa," he said. "As we continue to talk about the impact of state budget decisions on the university, I think we need to keep making the case that we have more resident students here at Iowa State University, and cuts made to this university disproportionately affect resident Iowans who want to get an education at the regent universities."

Cyber security leader

In other senate business, a proposed bachelor's degree in cyber security engineering was introduced, one of the first nationally for a new area of study accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.

"This is building on the strength that the electrical and computer engineering department already has in this area and is an exciting opportunity for us to have a degree program at the forefront and become a leader in this new degree program," said Tim Bigelow, chair of the academic affairs council.

The academic affairs council introduced two other proposed programs:

Senators will vote on all three at their April 3 meeting.

Progress on NTE proposals

The senate's work on policy revisions for nontenure-eligible (NTE) faculty continued, with discussion set aside for the proposed changes. Calling for the submission of amendments and changes prior to the next meeting, Day said the process -- which started with a senate task force in 2016 and moved to the executive board in 2017 -- could soon result in a new policy.

"I know there's a chance we're going to kind of fatigue on this and we feel like we've heard this before, but we can see the finish line," Day said.

He said the proposed changes address what NTE faculty indicated was most important when surveyed by the task force. However, determining specific titles for NTE -- or "term" -- faculty was a challenge.

"We found it really hard to reconcile and get to this simplification of [NTE] titles that many of us desire," Day said. "This [proposal] unifies the processes for appointment, evaluation and advancement. In fact, all faculty are either in a tenure/tenure-stream bucket or in the term bucket. In those two worlds, there is a uniformity of appointment processes, evaluation processes and reappointment/advancement processes.

Student-athlete update

Day, who also serves as ISU's faculty athletics representative, presented his annual report to the senate. As has been the trend for several years, the grade point average for student-athletes and the general student body were equitable. The student-athlete GPA has exceeded the student body GPA in the last four semesters, including a 3.1-to-3.03 edge in spring 2017 and a 3.05-to-3.01 margin last fall.

Day also shared information on the economic impact athletics makes at ISU. In FY17, Iowa State received more than $24.8 million from the athletics department, including payment for campus services, fees and student-athlete tuition.

"It's a reminder that even though the athletics budget does seem to continue to grow, it's not without positive impact on us here at the university," Day said.

The athletics department also announced this week that it will contribute $1 million for degree completion grants. The funds, available through the financial aid office, are available to all students and intended to cover delinquent costs/fees that may keep upperclassmen from being able to enroll and complete a degree.

"The initiative was designed with input from the Faculty Senate, Student Government and the [financial] aid office," Day said. "We have students who are juniors or seniors and have a few thousand dollars on their U-bill that they can't pay. They can't enroll, and it ends up stopping their ability to complete their degree."

Other business

  • Senators unanimously approved a resolution on climate change, supporting a commitment toward carbon-neutrality
  • Proposed revisions of the Faculty Handbook were introduced: Adding parameters for interim actions needed before a formal faculty misconduct complaint is filed (section; and updating and moving the definition for working days to chapter two (currently section
  • Erin Wilgenbusch, senior lecturer in the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, was elected to serve another term on the athletics council, running unopposed
  • Michael Belding, university relations legislative affairs chair of the Graduate and Professional Student Senate, said the group planned its annual research conference and a series of wellness events as part of the national graduate student appreciation week, April 9-13