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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

February 25, 2005

Budget planners finishing priorities

by Anne Krapfl

Iowa State's budget planning process for the fiscal year that will begin July 1 revolves around the regents' "Partnership Plan for Transformation and Excellence." At the February meeting of the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, regents, university presidents and student government leaders affirmed their support for the plan.

"I think it's an outstanding plan. Let's work to get it done," said President Gregory Geoffroy.

Most recently, Geoffroy, University of Iowa President David Skorton and University of Northern Iowa President Robert Koob asked for legislative support of the plan at a Feb. 15 meeting of the joint House and Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee.

Gov. Tom Vilsack has recommended full funding for the partnership plan in his FY06 proposed budget.

The plan asks for $40 million in new state funding to the three regent universities annually for four years. In return, the schools would match it with $20 million in internally reallocated funds. Iowa State's portion of those figures is $16 million in new funding and $8 million in reallocations. The intent is to "reinvest" in public higher education and support initiatives that are strategically important to the schools and the state.

Also in return, the universities would agree to hold tuition increases for resident undergraduates to moderate levels that don't exceed the Higher Education Price Index. For example, Iowa State's undergraduate tuition increase for next fall, approved by the regents in December, is 4 percent. (Tuition increases in recent years have been from 8 to 18 percent.)

If the Iowa Legislature appropriates less than $40 million to the Partnership Plan for FY06, the universities' obligation to reallocate would diminish proportionately. It also would be likely the regent universities would seek an additional tuition increase yet this spring to supplement new state appropriations intended for priorities in the partnership plan.

New allocations and reallocations

The processes at Iowa State to determine priorities for any new state funds and up to $8 million in reallocated dollars began in September and are expected to wrap up by mid- to late March, said Mark Chidister, assistant to the president for budget planning and analysis. The first priority for new state money, he said, is salary increases for faculty and P&S staff to improve Iowa State's competitiveness with peer universities.

Last fall, Geoffroy asked the three vice presidents to work with deans and directors to develop proposals for new funds. Chidister said that list generally contains two kinds of requests: incremental cost increases for things such as utilities, inflation on library materials and information technology upgrades; and initiatives that would support the five priorities of the university's strategic plan for 2005-10.

"As you might imagine, the list of requests we have received would take much more funding than the $16 million we hope to receive," Chidister said.

Currently, two groups -- the vice presidents and the 14-member President's Advisory Committee on Budget Priorities and Planning -- are reviewing that list independently and, in the next few weeks, will provide recommendations to Geoffroy.

Geoffroy and the three vice presidents also are working with leaders in their own units to identify $8 million in total reallocations and decide where to use those funds.

Chidister characterized that process as "exceedingly difficult" in light of four years of state budget cuts and a new (fall 2004) regent policy that redefines acceptable reallocations.

He said most of the reallocated funds would be redirected to support goals in the new strategic plan.


Once administrators arrive at priority lists for new and reallocated funds, they will await a funding decision from the Iowa Legislature on the Partnership Plan. That probably won't come until after April 1. The last scheduled day of the 2005 legislative session is April 29.

The board of regents is scheduled to review preliminary operating budgets for the regent universities at its May 4-5 meeting and detailed operating budgets at the June 13-14 meeting.

Budget priorities

FY06 ISU budget priorities reflect the 2005-2010 strategic plan, including:

  • Competitive salaries for faculty and P&S staff
  • Additional faculty positions in strategic areas for education and research
  • Competitive financial aid packages for graduate and undergraduate students


"I think it's an outstanding plan. Let's work to get it done."

Pres. Gregory Geoffroy,
speaking about a new regent funding proposal