Sally Mason upbeat about evaluation with regents

University of Iowa president has been working without contract since August

University of Iowa President Sally Mason today said she was upbeat about her mid-year evaluation with the state Board of Regents, her first such review with the board since it was revealed she is working on an at-will basis.

Mason, a few minutes before she went into the closed-session evaluation with the regents, previewed for reporters what she expected to discuss with the board during her session. Mason spoke with reporters before her session because afterward she had to catch a plane to Florida, where she will meet with UI alumni, she said.

"I'm pretty excited. I'm upbeat," she said of her mood going into the evaluation. "The university's not perfect, we have plenty of things that we can work on and there's always things going wrong. But in general, we're getting ready in May to kick off the comprehensive campaign and we're $970 million toward the goal of $1.7 billion, so I feel pretty good about that."

The regents are conducting mid-year performance evaluations today of the three public university presidents at the board office in Urbandale. Mason was the last of the three presidents to have her closed-session evaluation, after retiring University of Northern Iowa President Ben Allen and Iowa State University President Steve Leath.

After her evaluation, which lasted about 90 minutes, Mason described the meeting as "very productive," UI Spokesman Tom Moore said.

There was some public scrutiny of Mason's employment status recently when it was revealed in December that she had been working on an at-will basis since Aug. 1. The board gave her a 2 percent raise after her annual evaluation in August, but her initial five-year contract expired July 31 and she has been an at-will employee ever since.

Mason, 62, said that does not concern her, and she is satisfied with a deferred compensation package she has that runs through June 2016. The leaders of faculty, staff and student governance groups on campus have stated their support of Mason's leadership.

The board also in August asked Mason to improve the university's statewide outreach and relations with the Legislature.

Mason today said she planned to highlight for the board her efforts in those areas, including a new UI website that shows the county-by-county impact of the university on the state. She also expected to talk about her efforts to improve communication with the state's media, programs to raise additional scholarship dollars and about the university's work to increase applications from Iowa resident students.

"I look forward to advice, that's one of the things that these sessions are always really useful for is getting advice from the regents and answering questions that they might have," Mason said. "I'm open to change and taking suggestions when it makes good sense to do those sorts of things."

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