New Iowa regents task force to look at state funding model

Appropriations have shrunk in relation to overall state budget

A new state Board of Regents task force will examine the model of state funding to Iowa's three public universities, Regents President Craig Lang announced Thursday.

Lang, whose last meeting as a regent is today, has asked David Miles, another regent whose six-year term on the board ends this month, to head the new task force. Regent Katie Mulholland also will serve on the task force.

With the growing concern nationwide about the cost of higher education, historical trends show that in Iowa the most significant impact has been the shift in the majority of the cost from the state to the students, Lang said. The way money has been appropriated to the state's three public universities "really hasn't been changed since 1946," Lang said.

State funding in Fiscal Year 2012 was about 36 percent of the general university funding to the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa, down from about 64 percent of the funding in FY 2001. Student tuition dollars made up 59 percent of the general university funding last year, up from 31 percent in FY 2001.

"So I think it's important for us to look at the state funding and how the appropriations are made," Lang said. "For decades, the universities have seen appropriations shrink as a share of institution budgets."

The new task force will study financial issues and strengthen the board's ability to "make our funding needs known to the governor and the Legislature," Lang said.

The work of the task force will consist of: a review of historical general university funding levels; how the state money supports the three distinct missions of the universities; the future funding needs of each campus; and the recommendations of a set of measurements that may help rebalance the equation, "linking dollars more directly to priorities," Lang said.

The aim is "to ensure that the needs of our universities are met, to recognize their distinct missions and to find the right set of metrics to look at performance," he said.

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