Education

Iowa universities to pay nearly $250K more for Board of Regents services

UI, ISU, UNI reimbursement rate rose a quarter million for 2020

A Board of Regents meeting at the Iowa Memorial Union on the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City on Wednesday, Mar. 11, 2015. (File photo/The Gazette)
A Board of Regents meeting at the Iowa Memorial Union on the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City on Wednesday, Mar. 11, 2015. (File photo/The Gazette)

Iowa’s three public universities in the new budget year are being asked to pay — collectively — about a quarter million more to its governing Board of Regents for the services it provides, according to documents made public this week.

University of Iowa, Iowa State University and University of Northern Iowa must reimburse the board $3.6 million in the 2020 budget year for “costs incurred to provide services to the universities and special schools,” according to board spokesman Josh Lehman.

That’s $245,579 above the 2019 university reimbursement — which this year accounts for about 82 percent of the board’s annual $4.4 million budget. The board also gets a $775,655 state appropriation — the same as last year.

As for university contributions, the schools split the cost 40-40-20 — with UI and ISU paying $1.4 million each and UNI covering the remaining $715,500. The regents’ special schools — the Iowa School for the Deaf and the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School — don’t share any portion of the tab.

This year’s increase — which comes as the universities responded to recent state cuts by closing programs, increasing tuition, nixing scholarships and at UNI dropping course sections, cutting faculty jobs and upping class sizes — largely is tied to one additional position at the board office, Lehman said.

That position — another associate counsel — was filled by Kristen Bauer, formerly the board’s ISU state relations officer.

Personnel costs for the 2020 budget year are $225,423 above last year, which Lehman said “is for hiring one additional position,” clarifying that’s for “combined salary and benefits, not just salary.”

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Iowa State on Thursday announced the board has replaced Bauer as ISU state relations officer with Carolann Jensen, formerly chief operations officer for the Iowa Finance Authority.

Jensen, who earned a bachelor’s degree from Iowa State and a master’s degree from Drake University, has worked for the finance authority since 2011. In 2018, she served as interim executive director and chief programs officer. Before joining the authority, she spent 24 years as senior research analyst for the Republican caucus in the Iowa Senate.

The board’s 2020 expense budget also includes a nearly 67 percent increase for outside services and repairs, a 25 percent increase for training, and a 33 percent decrease for information technology services.

Lehman didn’t specify the reasons for those changes.

“The budget is reviewed each year, and this is a budget that reflects estimated expenses for the upcoming year in each line item,” he said. “While some lines increased, other lines decreased. We always want to be good stewards of the money allocated to us; aside from personnel, the overall budget is increasing $20,000 (or 1.9 percent).”

The board is scheduled to review and approve its 2020 budget during a telephone meeting next week.

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

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