More UI programs may feel the burn of state budget cuts


Joseph Cress

University of Iowa President J. Bruce Harreld speaks during a state Board of Regents tuition task force meeting in 101 Biology Building East in Iowa City on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017.

Emily Wangen, Reporter

With declining legislative support for Iowa’s public universities, University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld told the state Board of Regents on Aug. 1 that the university is on the path to predictability in adjusting its budget.

“We spent the last year focused on understanding our budget and revamping the process so it’s transparent and predictable for our academic leadership,” Harreld told the regents as they considered approving the UI’s $4.1 billion fiscal 2019 budget. “​… We believe we have moved to a system, with your help, that will allow the university to begin implementing the strategic plan in a more significant way.”

Tuition revenue composes 64.8 percent of the university’s general-fund revenue of $745.1 million following cuts to state appropriations over the years, which has been characterized by UI officials as a “generational disinvestment” in higher education.

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Gov. Kim Reynolds this spring signed off on midyear cuts to the regent universities’ budgets, excluding the University of Northern Iowa, resulting in the UI and Iowa State University splitting $10.9 million in reductions to state appropriations for fiscal 2018.

The UI’s $5.4 million share of the cut was partially offset by an appropriations increase of $3.15 million in fiscal 2019.

The regents approved a tuition hike of 3.8 percent for residents and 2.1 percent for nonresident undergraduate students in June.

The UI expects $5.4 million in increased incremental revenue from fiscal 2018 as a result of changes in tuition revenue, paired with indirect cost recoveries and interest income.

In Harreld’s presentation at the August 2017 Tuition Task Force meeting, it would take a $154.5 million to $164.5 million increase to the general-education fund by fiscal 2022 — more than around $30 million annually over five years — to fully implement the plan.

Consistent tuition increases each year of 7.08 percent for resident undergraduates and 2.08 percent for undergraduates were part of that proposal.

“The University of Iowa is not interested in increasing tuition just because,” he said, but rather, he wants to achieve better outcomes for the state and UI students.

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Harreld said “the university will struggle to fully implement the strategic plan,” as the revenue coming in still falls short of the amount needed annually to do just that while coping with budget cuts.

The UI closed seven centers and reduced funding to three more in July in a cost-cutting measure that will result in $3.5 million in total savings; $1.41 million of that will go to the general fund.

That decision, Harreld said, was borne out of the UI’s new collegiate-economic-analysis budget model in which deans review the budgets to effectively employ resources in their areas.

Additionally, in April, the UI announced a moratorium on most campus construction projects that will last until September, with the possibility of an extension. UI officials estimate that the moratorium will defer approximately $5.5 million in spending from the general-education fund.

UI officials have indicated there may be more programs affected by budget cuts during fiscal 2019, according to regent documents. The documents state the UI will identify and evaluate programs that state resources are no longer sufficient to support and possibly discontinue them.

Harreld said on Aug.1 that in the upcoming year, he has asked UI Faculty Senate President Professor Russell Ganim to work with shared-governance leadership to enhance the review process.

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