Planning will resume for a scaled-back veterinary lab

Proposals to add doctoral programs in education at Iowa State and the University of Iowa will go to the full state Board of Regents in November but, during the Sept. 12 meeting in Iowa City, members of the board's academic affairs committee expressed concern about perceived duplication. And at least one committee member was concerned about a negative impact on the existing doctoral program at the University of Northern Iowa.

Regent Larry McKibben said he wants "zero harm" to the UNI program and no overlap among the three schools' doctoral programs.

"The state's finances won't allow it," he said.

Officials from all three schools reported extensive collaboration in the process of developing the two new programs (Ed.D.). Iowa State's would offer two professional tracks (community college and school district administration); Iowa's would serve those seeking to lead in school, district or higher educational settings. Northern Iowa's interdisciplinary Ed.D. offers three specialty areas, for example, one in allied health, recreation and community services.

Iowa State and Iowa also offer Ph.D. programs in education.

Graduate College dean Bill Graves told the regents that even with three public Ed. D. programs, the demand in the state will exceed the available spaces in them.

Planning resumes for Veterinary Diagnostic Lab

Both the property and facilities committee and the full board approved Iowa State's request to begin planning a $75 million Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL) on the Veterinary Medicine campus. The 2018 Legislature committed $63.5 million in state support to the project over six years, beginning with $1 million for project planning in the current year. Last fall, Iowa State requested $100 million in state support for a proposed $124 million lab based on a 2014 needs study.

President Wendy Wintersteen said, "We're going to do a great job this year, planning and understanding what we can get done for the dollars available, and then we'll have some more conversations after we get through that process.

"This is a critical facility, really not just for Iowa State, as much as it is for Iowa, the nation and the world," she added. "If we don't understand diseases that are occurring [on livestock and poultry operations], then we really can't prepare for the future."

McKibben thanked her for "staying the battle and finding a way to keep it moving forward."

"Those of us in agriculture know the value of the facility," McKibben said.

FY20 funding needs

Wintersteen told board members Iowa State will need $32.5 million in new resources next year (a combination of increase to general university appropriation, new tuition, savings and strategic realignments) to make headway on four priorities:

  • Faculty and staff retention
  • Faculty and staff recruitment (to lower student-faculty ratio – a quality indicator -- and meet growth in STEM programs)
  • Building maintenance and capacity, including deferred maintenance
  • Support for need-based student financial aid to improve graduation rates for all students, especially first-generation, low socio-economic or multicultural students.

The requested state portion of that new funding next year is about $7.4 million: a 4 percent increase ($7 million) to the general university operating budget, designated for student financial aid; and a 10 percent increase ($410,000) to VDL operating support.

"We will continue to leverage every dollar we receive to provide an excellent return on investment for our students and for the state," Wintersteen said. "We have been a faithful partner for Iowa and for Iowans in all 99 counties for the past 160 years. And we look forward to building a bright future together."

Timing of tuition discussion will move up

Board president Michael Richards used his commentary time to outline a "holistic approach" to funding the three state universities.

"I believe strongly that we can't continue to look at these segments of funding -- state appropriations, savings and reallocations, tuition and all research funding -- individually. We need to look at them in terms of total resources. The combination of funding in these areas must equal the total resources needed for a given year," he said.

"Finding the right mix is the challenge, but in the end, we need to arrive at a total resources number."

Richards said the board's tuition discussion will begin earlier this year. At the next meeting (November), he said the board would discuss "a multiyear tuition model with a baseline percentage increase for resident undergraduates for the next several years." That would include specifics about the potential ranges of tuition increases. A formal reading of tuition rates would come yet this calendar year, he said.

Last year, the board opted to delay setting tuition rates until after the 2018 Legislature had adjourned.

Library learning hub

In approving a five-year capital plan for the regent universities, the board approved an Iowa State $28 million proposal to renovate 44,000 square feet of stacks space on two floors of the library for a student learning hub, adding an estimated 600 seats, technology-equipped group collaboration spaces and classrooms. The plan starts with $10 million in FY 2020 (academic building revenue bond sale or an appropriation), with $16 million in state support the following year and $2 million in gifts or university funds.

Who stays?

Wintersteen told board members Iowa State awarded 8,356 degrees during the 2017-18 academic year. Among those graduates:

  • 62 percent of in-state graduates remain in Iowa
  • 22 percent of nonresident graduates remain in Iowa
  • 29 percent of international graduates remain in Iowa

Other business

These ISU construction projects received final board approval:

  • Recreation services' plan to invest $10 million in the recreation fields east of Jack Trice Stadium. The plan renovates and reconfigures the area and adds an irrigation system, lights and restrooms.
  • A $4.2 million replacement of a steam line at the Iowa State Center that services all four buildings.

These proposals cleared a board committee review and go to the full board in November for final approval:

  • Adding a bachelor of science degree in cyber security engineering in the electrical and computer engineering department. The proposed start date is August 2019.
  • Reorganizing the supply chain and information systems department in the Ivy College of Business to two departments: supply chain management, and information systems and business analytics. The proposed effective date is July 1, 2019.
  • Closing five centers for which activities either ceased or were picked up by another unit: Biosafety Institute for Genetically Modified Ag Products, Center for Carbon Capturing of Crops, Center for Sustainable Environmental Technologies, Midwest Forensics Resource Center, and Nutrition and Wellness Research Center.