Provost: Central budget cuts will ease impact on academic programs

In remarks at the April 3 Faculty Senate meeting, senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert said his office is working to cushion academic programs from the blow of midyear budget cuts. Iowa State likely will shoulder $5.4 million of the $10.9 million being trimmed from the state Board of Regents' legislative appropriations for the fiscal year that ends June 30.

In a March 30 memo, President Wendy Wintersteen said about three-quarters of that reduction will come from central funds and the rest would be distributed across the university. Wickert said his office is finalizing a plan for the academic affairs portion of the budget reversion.

"I'm working with my team to see how much of that we can absorb centrally within my office," he said. "My goal would be to have as little of our share go to the academic colleges and departments as possible."

Wickert said tuition proposals will be introduced at the April 12 regents meeting. Iowa State's plan includes a 3.8 percent increase for undergraduate resident students and a 4 percent increase for nonresident undergraduate and all graduate students. He said both new and raised differential tuition rates also will be proposed for "majors that have high-touch, high-level laboratory or experiential learning components."

"Raising tuition is not something we do lightly," Wickert said. "It's not something that we want to do, but it's something we need to do to sustain the quality of our academic programs here at the university, and to offset several years of state budget reductions."

Academic programs

In other senate business, three proposed academic programs earned unanimous approval, including:

  • A bachelor of science in cybersecurity engineering in the electrical and computer engineering department
  • An illustration minor, a 15-credit program in Design's art and visual culture department
  • An undergraduate certificate in actuarial science, a 23-credit (plus 30-31 prerequisite courses) program shared by the finance, math and statistics departments

In new business, a proposed graduate certificate in meat science was introduced. The animal science would offer a 12-credit online-only program. A Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) also was proposed, offered by the School of Education. The professional degree is intended for educational practitioners -- such as school district superintendents and community college leaders -- and different from the scholarly research focus of the school's existing Ph.D. program in education.

"The goals of the degrees are different and there's a growing need in the state of Iowa for people with this degree," said Tim Bigelow, chair of the academic affairs council.

Military accommodations

Excused absences for students with veteran and military service demands will broaden with proposed Faculty Handbook changes. The revised language allows for service-related medical appointments and other short-notice orders and assignments.

"Military and veterans have a lot of unique responsibilities and obligations that may require them to miss class," Bigelow said. "Or current policy excludes some of these issues that are facing them."

Senators will vote on the proposed changes at their April 17 meeting.

Amendments expected for NTE faculty proposal

Senators continued their discussion of proposed changes for nontenure-eligible (NTE) -- or "term" -- faculty. The changes stemmed from recommendations developed by a 2016 senate task force.

"We've been grinding on this for a while, and I think we can see the goal line," senate president Tim Day said. "We've made a lot of progress. There's a large body of underlying stuff that we have largely come to a consensus on."

In an effort to gauge agreement on possible amendments to proposed changes, Day led discussion on three issues:

  • Elimination of the assistant/associate titles in the proposed professor of practice track
  • Retention of lecturer titles
  • Clarification of research professor requirements

"These are the three areas where we saw the most amendments come to us," Day said.

"What I hope to do is get some coalesced amendments, start to distribute them and say 'these are what they're going to look like,'" Day said. "You're going to have a chance to vote for or against those amendments, and then you're going to have a chance to vote for or against the parent proposal as amended or as adopted. This is discussion to get us there."

Other business

  • Senators approved Faculty Handbook language revisions for interim actions in misconduct complaints (section and the definition for working days (section 2.9.1)
  • Three executive board seats were filled: Andrea Wheeler (architecture), academic affairs council chair; Brett Sponseller (veterinary clinical sciences), governance council chair; Annmarie Butler (philosophy and religious studies), secretary
  • Wickert said 81 promotion and tenure approvals will go before the regents at their April 12 meeting