P&S Council gets updates on budget, student info system

President Wendy Wintersteen updated the Professional and Scientific Council on fiscal year 2021 budget considerations at the council's March 5 meeting.

In her budget overview, Wintersteen said an expected decrease in enrollment this fall and its subsequent effect on tuition revenue, which accounts for nearly two-thirds of the general operating fund, will require $24 million to $28 million in reallocations. Leaders creating budgets for their units are preparing versions with reductions of 3%, 4% and 5%, she said.

Asked how the financial stress could affect staffing levels, Wintersteen said Iowa State is a lean organization already, but it's too soon to know because budget recommendations haven't been submitted to central planners yet. Also, opportunities for efficiency in each division and college vary, she said.

In its legislative request for FY21, which begins July 1, Iowa State asked for a 4% increase in general operations funds ($7 million), a $2.9 million increase for a joint biosciences innovation program with the University of Iowa and a $30 million commitment over three years for a College of Human Science facilities plan that would replace LeBaron Hall.

Legislators haven't passed a higher education budget yet, but Gov. Kim Reynolds recommended a 3% increase ($5.3 million) in general appropriations for Iowa State, Wintersteen said. Reynolds also recommended the biosciences funding as requested, which would fully cover the initiative's $4 million annual budget.

"You never know until it's over what's going to happen," Wintersteen said of legislative funding.

The state Board of Regents will set tuition rates after legislative funding is clear. The board's policy is to limit tuition increases to 3% if the legislative request is met, with a larger increase allowed if state funding falls short of the request, Wintersteen said.

Student system

A small team has started working on an overhaul of student information software to replace aging systems that hold data such as financial aid and academic records, senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert told council members. The group leading the due diligence effort includes university information systems director for information technology services Carol McDonald, university registrar Jennifer Suchan and registrar systems director Diane Rupp.

Due diligence will involve two steps, Wickert said. First, the group will assess what a new student information platform will need to do. The group then will determine if Workday's student information product could meet those needs, since the university already has an existing relationship and contract with Workday.

The project team will look at the cost and staffing for the project, which is expected to take years to implement. Wickert said it will take four to six months for the group to gather enough information to make an informed decision on the next step.

Officer elections

In council business, members elected the council's FY21 executive officers. All ran unopposed:

  • President-elect: Chris Johnsen, store and distribution center manager, ISU Extension and Outreach
  • Secretary-Treasurer: Joy Stroud, business and finance manager, Reiman Gardens
  • Vice president for equity and inclusion: Lindsay Moeller, staff recruiting specialist, university human resources
  • Vice president for university community relations: John Burnett-Larkins, communications specialist, College of Engineering
  • Vice president for university planning and budget: Barry McCroskey, accountant, ISU Extension and Outreach

McCroskey, Stroud and Moeller were reelected in their respective positions. Next year's president is current president-elect Sara Parris, associate director, Thielen Student Health Center. Officer terms begin July 1. Online elections for council representatives will be March 16-27.