UI President Barbara Wilson discusses proposed budget requests at Faculty Senate meeting

University of Iowa President Barbara Wilson spoke with UI Faculty Senate members about the proposed budget requests she plans to bring to the state Board of Regents meeting later this week.


Gabby Drees

University of Iowa faculty convene virtually for a meeting Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. (Gabby Drees/The Daily Iowan)

Kate Perez, News Reporter

The University of Iowa Faculty Senate held its first meeting of the semester Tuesday, where UI President Barbara Wilson spoke about the budget requests she plans to bring to the state Board of Regents meeting later this week. 

“We are going to continue to advocate for more funding,” Wilson said in a Zoom meeting with the Faculty Senate. “About 30 percent of our General Education fund is comprised of state support. So, if people tell you that we should just ignore the state and do what we need to do, I will remind you that that will mean we have to replace $215 million in our budget.”

Wilson went on to address that the UI plans to propose more funding for mental health resources and ways to increase overall student success. 

“We’re requesting about $4 million of new resources in a bucket that I will call the Student Success bucket. The money will go to focusing on departments and courses that have larger enrollments and where we know we have some significant challenges for students,” Wilson said.

Additionally, the UI is advocating for more mental health counseling and financial support for students in degree programs with high-demand fields as part of the budget request, Wilson said. 

The request also asks for an additional $3 million for programs that help the state of Iowa as a whole, Wilson said. 

“That [money] will go into various things that we do that help the state, like money for flood resistance, money for the state hygienic lab,” she said. “The state hygienic lab is run by the university here. It’s part of how we’ve really managed COVID in the last year and a half but in addition to that this lab that we run does all newborn screening for every baby born in the state of Iowa.” 

In the state hygienic lab, Wilson said babies are screened for diseases and genetic challenges. It is something UI does and enjoys doing, she said, but needs support to continue doing.

The money will also go toward the research park and UI family medicine training opportunities throughout the state, Wilson added. 

After Wilson left the meeting, there was an open discussion about how Faculty Senate members felt regarding COVID-19 after the first weeks of classes. 

Faculty members brought up issues such as the public image the UI has without a mask mandate, how students continue to oppose masking in class despite being asked by professors, and overall frustration with the regents and the current restrictions. 

UI English professor and department chair Loren Glass proposed the Faculty Senate voting no confidence in the regents. 

“I just really want to remind them that they’re failing us,” Glass said. 

Glass made the suggestion one day before the regents meet at Iowa State University. 

It would be a big step for the Faculty Senate to take, responded Faculty Senate President Teresa Marshall. 

“I don’t know that we want to go there yet, but it’s something we can think about and have additional discussions [about],” Marshall said. “The biggest issue is to improve safety. Our safety, our patients’ safety, our students’ safety, and our staff’s safety. To me, that’s the goal.”

The Faculty Senate will meet next on Tuesday, Oct. 26, at the Senate Chamber in the Old Capitol.

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