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November 9, 2001

Geoffroy: ISU funding ratio lags behind peers

by Anne Krapfl
Calling a diminishing operating budget "the fly in the ointment," President Gregory Geoffroy told a mostly P&S audience Nov. 1 that much of what's happening at Iowa State is very positive. Geoffroy was asked to comment on the state of the university during a forum preceding the Professional and Scientific Council's November meeting.

Geoffroy said Iowa State is recognized nationally as a model of what a land-grant university should be because it achieves a strong balance in discovery, learning and engagement. He also said he believes the quality of education students receive at Iowa State is "truly superior" to that which students receive at many other public universities.

The best indicator of that quality is the intense interest employers show for ISU students, Geoffroy said, citing the colleges of Agriculture and Engineering's recent large career fairs.

Geoffroy cited two statistics that he hopes to improve. The first is the ratio of students to tenured or tenure-track faculty, which has increased nearly 15 percent in the last five years at Iowa State. The result, he noted, is larger classes and not enough class sections to serve all students who want classes in a particular semester.

The second statistic is the funding level for Iowa State, which impacts quality of education. When tuition and fees and state appropriations are combined, Iowa State ranks at the bottom of peer 11 land-grant universities in funding available per student. In fact, Iowa State is more than $3,000 below the mean among its peers.

FY03 budget
Geoffroy said planning has begun on Iowa State's operating budget for the year that begins July 1, 2002.

"We'll have a painful five or six months as we work through this planning process," he said.

In addition to this year's 4.3 percent mid-year de-appropriation that must be folded into the university's base operating budget, Geoffroy said he anticipates another cut to Iowa State's budget next fiscal year. Some tuition increases will be used to offset the severity of those cuts, but Geoffroy said Iowa State's FY03 operating budget probably will be several percentage points smaller than this year's. He has asked the vice presidents and provost to prepare 4 percent reduction proposals for the Task Force on Strategic Effectiveness and Budget Priorities' review.

In response to a question, Geoffroy said he doesn't expect a regents-wide effort to meet funding cuts by eliminating duplicate programs. He noted that the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, system discourages "unnecessary" duplication.

"I think you'd be hard-pressed to find unnecessary duplication in the system," he said.

A streaming media file of Geoffroy's presentation to the P&S Council is available on the Web at

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