Iowa's Board of Regents skip pay raises for university presidents

Midyear evaluations come amid news of more cuts

A Board of Regents meeting at the Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City on Wednesday, Sep. 6, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
A Board of Regents meeting at the Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City on Wednesday, Sep. 6, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

After spending two days behind closed doors evaluating its university presidents and institutional heads, Iowa’s Board of Regents this week took no action to increase pay or offer new compensation incentives.

The no-news report from board President Mike Richards is not surprising given deep cuts in state support over the last year that Gov. Kim Reynold this week suggested aggravating by proposing another takeback of funds already committed to Iowa’s public universities for the current budget year.

Lawmakers during the last legislative session slashed more than $30 million of its base funding for the universities, and Reynolds recommended taking back another $5.1 million from this year’s budget. The proposed reductions come in response to a state budget shortfall of about $35 million and hit regents harder than most.

Reynolds has suggested giving the Board of Regents a $7.3 million funding bump in the 2019 budget year — which, if approved, would be muted by this year’s scale-back to about $2.4 million. The board had asked for $12 million more in 2019, and no additional cuts in 2018, and university presidents promised to use any new money to support student financial aid.

Due to dwindling state appropriations and years of frozen tuition rates, University of Iowa and Iowa State University over the summer pitched five years of 7-percent rate hikes for resident undergraduates — assuming no new money from lawmakers. The universities have not said what a modest increase would do to their tuition proposals.

Regardless, new cuts have university executives trimming again, making pay raises and new compensation deals unlikely. The board conducted midyear evaluations of its executive director, university presidents, and special schools superintendent Tuesday and Wednesday — it typically assesses the performance of the executives twice a year.

New Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen was slated to be evaluated like everyone else, but regents dropped her from the schedule because she became sick.

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For years, the board offered raises following annual evaluations. But it hasn’t increased presidential pay since the summer of 2015 — before any of the current university heads were on the job.

l Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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