New funds will support university priorities

In the new fiscal year that began July 1, Iowa State will continue its multi-year investment in the four broad university priorities first identified by President Steven Leath in fall 2012: maintain academic excellence, enhance the university's basic and applied research footprint, promote economic development in the state and improve the campus environment.

Late last month, Leath received and approved proposals from his three senior vice presidents on uses for $39.94 million in new revenue (a net figure that excludes additional funding for student financial aid). The budget still must be approved by the state Board of Regents, and is expected to be on the board's Aug. 6 meeting agenda.

Following is a summary of how the incremental funds will be used this year to help fund the university's top priorities:

Priority: Maintain academic excellence ($18.76 million)

  • Recruit and retain faculty in disciplines with strong programs and high student demand ($12.86 million). Examples include targeted hires in the Presidential High Impact Hires initiative as well as senior faculty who are members of national academies.
  • Priorities identified by the Student Experience Enhancement Council that improve the student experience ($4.71 million). Examples include additional funding for student recruiting space, student advising positions, supplemental instruction, learning communities and the campus wireless network.
  • Other priorities and initiatives that improve the student experience ($174,000). The primary example is additional student support services.
  • Efforts to keep college affordable ($1.02 million). Examples include graduate scholarships and stipends, and additional advising positions in student financial aid.

Priority: Enhance the university's basic and applied research footprint ($3.0 million)

  • Priorities identified by the Committee on Enhancing Institutional Excellence that strengthen research programs in areas that are core to the university ($938,000). Examples include further work on a digital repository of scholarly work of ISU faculty and students, staff positions in research administration to help develop multidisciplinary grant proposals, and systematic approaches to recruiting graduate students and post docs.
  • Other priorities and initiatives that strengthen research programs in core areas ($2.06 million). Examples include grant-matching funds, support for research farm operations, and new career services and writing centers specifically for graduate students.

Priority: Promote economic development ($1.89 million)

  • Connect faculty, staff and student resources with industry, communities, business and state agencies. The primary example is establishing the economic development/industry relations office that reports to the president.

Priority: Improve the campus environment ($1.50 million)

  • Invest in a clean, safe and secure campus environment. Examples include funding for the central deferred maintenance fund ($1 million) and institutional roads fund ($100,000), staff positions in the areas of public safety and facilities services, and employee professional development.

Other FY15 investments ($14.79 million)

  • $9.53 million: Performance-driven compensation plan for faculty and P&S staff
  • $3.90 million: Campus infrastructure and services, including operating three new buildings and replacing IT core equipment
  • $980,000: Contract-covered merit employee salary and insurance increases
  • $377,000: Inflationary increases on external services, contracts and licenses

Leath also accepted the senior VPs' plans for $23.13 million in reallocations to support the priorities listed above, all but $406,000 of which is in the academic affairs division. While not new funds, the reallocated dollars are new commitments to priority areas.