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September 17, 2003

Regents confirm commitment to salary funding

by Anne Krapfl
During its Sept. 17 meeting in Ames, the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, confirmed that full state funding of employee salaries would be its top request to the 2004 Iowa Legislature.

The regents also passed a motion seeking $12 million in new state funds next year to replace faculty positions lost over several years of state funding reductions. The motion, by Regent John Forsyth, replaces a regents staff recommendation that would have asked for nearly $38 million in new state operating fund money to address a variety of strategic goals, including replacing lost faculty positions.

Forsyth argued that, given the reality of the state budget, it makes sense to set some priorities (thus reducing the regents institutions' wish list to the Legislature) and argue hard for them.

In other business, the regents asked leaders of the three universities to hold campus discussions about broad issues related to tuition policy. The board will discuss tuition rates for 2004-05 during its October and November meetings, but will hold another tuition policy discussion at its February 2004 meeting. The university reports should be completed before February. Specifically, the regents are looking at issues such as:
  • Time of year the board sets tuition rates (by law, no later than the previous November) versus when the Legislature approves state appropriations to the regents institutions (May or June).
  • How tuition is assessed. Variables could include: field of study, number of credit hours, academic status (juniors and seniors might pay higher tuition), which state university a student selects.
  • Use of mandatory student fees, including how the fees are set.
  • "Predictability" of tuition, that is, giving students and their families greater certainty, even guarantees, of what a university education begun in year "X" will cost.
The regents also:
  • Approved Iowa State's request to create the Biosafety Institute for Genetically Modified Agricultural Products ("BIGMAP"), the first institute of its kind in the nation. Faculty and staff in the institute will conduct science-based and socially relevant research on the risks and benefits of genetically modified plant and animal products. The institute will be administered by the College of Agriculture and will involve faculty and staff from the colleges of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, ISU Extension, the Plant Sciences Institute and the Office of the Vice Provost for Research.
  • Approved a new graduate program (M.S. and Ph.D. degrees) in biomedical sciences. Housed in the biomedical sciences department in the College of Veterinary Medicine, the program replaces existing programs, in the same department, that offered majors in veterinary anatomy or physiology. The intent is to serve the increased need for graduates with research-based education.
  • Approved an honorary doctorate of humane letters for Joanne Bubolz Eicher, to be awarded at fall 2003 commencement. Eicher, a faculty member at the University of Minnesota, is a pioneer in the area of textiles and clothing, with a scholarly focus on textile traditions in Africa. She has B.A., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Michigan State University.

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