Regents will begin tuition discussion yet this month

The state Board of Regents will publicly discuss 2021-22 tuition rates for the first time during a June 24 special meeting.

Setting tuition for the upcoming academic year has been a hallmark of the board's June meeting. But due to the late adjournment (May 19) of the Iowa Legislature, including approval of a state budget for the year that begins July 1, board president Michael Richards announced at the group's June 3 meeting the board would hold a special meeting later in the month. Final approval would come at the board's July 28 telephonic meeting, he said.

"Our universities need an appropriate amount of resources to continue to provide high-quality education, but we also want to keep our universities as accessible and affordable as possible for Iowans. There are many factors to consider, and we will be thoughtful as we move forward in this process," Richards said.

Free speech

The board's newest standing committee, free speech, received campus updates on several recommendations the full board approved in February. These included:

  • Mandatory syllabus statements on free speech (which Iowa State has used since winter session without significant issues or implementation problems, according to senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert)
  • Designated free speech websites, which went live June 1. Similar to sites at the universities of Iowa and Northern Iowa, Iowa State's free speech site features sections on policy and reporting, resources and services, and an FAQ. Iowa State's also includes a link to the campus climate website.
  • Review of national and regent university campus surveys as background information for a planning process to regularly survey the campus communities.
  • A 15- to 20-minute digital course all three universities could use, beginning this fall, for annual campus training for employees and students on the First Amendment and free speech.

Board counsel Aimee Claeys, who with university counsels researched training options, said they couldn't find an existing training piece, but identified several companies that could develop a custom module on the regents' timeline. The next step will be to solicit proposals.

The intent, she said, would be to provide high-level training on the fundamentals of the First Amendment, with a focus on freedom of expression. This first year, it would be required training, Claeys said, but there wouldn't be consequences for failure to complete it. To complement the basic training, the universities would commit to providing other training to targeted groups, as needed.

"Each person's voice matters," said new regent and committee chair Greta Rouse. "We must be strong enough to hear opposing viewpoints without stifling speech. Institutions of higher education must be places where the exploration of ideas is embraced as a core value."

Salary policies 

The board directed the universities to submit salary policies for employees not represented by a union "that best meet the needs of the institution" to board executive director Mark Braun, and granted Braun authority to approve them.

According to the terms of a new two-year contract between the state and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 61, merit employees will receive a 1.1% salary increase on July 1. The board also approved a merit system pay matrix that increases pay grade minimums and maximums by 1.1% and adds four pay grades (20-23) on July 1.

Presidential salary

Following its performance evaluation of President Wendy Wintersteen, the board approved an annual salary for her of $600,000 for the new fiscal year, about 1.7% higher than her previous approved salary of $590,000, However, at her request, Wintersteen's salary in FY20 actually was 10% less than that, or $531,000. The board also approved an additional two-year deferred compensation plan (July 1, 2021-June 30, 2023) of $100,000 annually. Her current deferred compensation is $200,000 per year, from November 2020 through June 2023.

New regents

Two of the board's nine regents attended their first meeting June 3, following their confirmation last month by the Iowa Senate. Rouse, Emmetsburg, served as an Iowa State student regent (as Greta Johnson, 2008-12). She succeeds regent Patty Cownie, whose term ended in April. Student regent Abby Crow, University of Iowa sophomore in human physiology, succeeds ISU student Zack Leist, who graduated in May.

Regent Sherry Bates was elected to fill the board's president pro-tem vacancy created by Cownie's departure from the board. The officer term expires in April 2022.

More ISU agenda items

In other Iowa State business, the regents approved:

  • A proposal to merge the departments of entomology and of plant pathology and microbiology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences into a single department, the department of plant pathology, entomology and microbiology. The change takes effect in fall 2022 and is intended to create opportunities for new undergraduate curricula, research ventures and strategic faculty positions, while conserving administrative costs.
  • A six-acre Story County farm gift from Howard and Nancy Hill, Nevada, that's located six miles northeast of central campus. The university's intent is to relocate the existing swine teaching farm to that location on a to-be-determined timeline. The current farm on south State Avenue needs significant repairs and building replacements, and residential growth on the south side of Ames is getting closer to it. The Hill property's 10 buildings include two farrowing barns, gestation barn, two nursery facilities and small finishing pig barn.
  • Proposals for six new degree programs beginning this fall: bachelor of business administration and bachelor of science in human resource management, both in the Ivy College of Business; bachelor of science in education as a second major only, master of arts in teaching (secondary education) and master of arts in teaching (math education), all in the College of Human Sciences; and a master of science in artificial intelligence in the College of Liberals Arts and Sciences.
  • ISU officer appointments for fiscal year 2022: associate vice president for institutional financial strategy Bonnie Whalen as secretary, senior vice president for operations and finance Pam Cain, formerly the university secretary, as treasurer, effective July 1.
  • A fourth 10-year CyRide agreement (through June 2031) among the university, ISU student government and the city of Ames. There are no content changes to the agreement.

Interim Iowa president

John Keller, associate provost and Graduate College dean, participated in the meeting as interim president of the University of Iowa, a position he will fill for about two months. Barbara Wilson, executive vice president and vice president for academic affairs for the University of Illinois system, is scheduled to become the university's 22nd president on July 15. Bruce Harreld's last day as president was May 16.


Edited June 21, 2021