URBANDALE — What some perceive as a pay freeze really is just logical budgeting, University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld told the Board of Regents on Wednesday, indicating those types of adjustments could persist so long as state support continues to flounder.
“We spent the last year focused on understanding our budget and revamping the process so it’s transparent and predictable for our academic leadership,” Harreld said as the board considered approving the UI’s $6 billion budget for fiscal 2019. “This predictability has been enhanced by some of your actions as a board and by some of the actions we’ve taken on campus.”
He praised the board for waiting to raise fall tuition until after the Legislature confirmed its level of support for the new budget year, which began July 1. And he said the university, by postponing performance-based pay raises until Jan. 1, will have more information about tuition revenue and state revenue estimates, better equipping it to make smart compensation moves.
“While some viewed this as a pay freeze for a few months, in fact the real logic behind it — moving to Jan. 1 — was that it would allow us to get a better view of the census numbers ... as well as the number of reports that come out in December that give us more clarity on the revenue streams,” Harreld said. “These two pieces of information therefore are vital for us making decisions over the roughly 70 percent of our budget that’s related to our people.”
“We believe we have moved to a system with your help that will allow the university to begin implementing the strategic plan in a more significant way.”
UI officials on Wednesday wouldn’t confirm whether the university plans to continue approving raises at the start of the calendar year, instead of the fiscal year. A second-straight midyear state appropriations takeback, followed by a lower than requested increase for the 2019 budget year, prompted all three regent universities to employ significant savings strategies.
The University of Iowa, in addition to its pay freeze, implemented a campuswide moratorium on new construction; eliminated some non-need-based scholarship programs; and announced the closure of some of its centers through the use of furloughs.
Advocates for those on the chopping block — including the UI Labor Center — have pushed back against the furloughs, which Harreld on Wednesday said came directly from collegiate deans.
“Our deans since last spring have been reviewing their budgets in order to determine how best to implement our new strategic plan and deliver results toward our mission in the light of these limited resources,” Harreld said. “This bottom-up review led to our deans recommending to curtail using general education funds to fund several centers across campus.”
The centers that are determined to survive have another option, Harreld said. Find new revenue.
“Furlough means that we have put them on notice that unless they find alternative sources of funds, we will no longer use tuition or general undeclared state funding, and therefore they will be closed,” he said.
Campus criticism of Harreld’s announcement of the closures came from faculty members upset they weren’t consulted on an issue that could affect the university’s academic standing.
Harreld on Wednesday said he’s asked UI Faculty Senate President Russ Ganim to work with the university’s shared governance leadership to enhance future review processes. Ganim, in an email to The Gazette, said, “The plan is to create a working group of representatives from shared governance organizations, faculty, and senior administration with the goal of establishing a more inclusive review process for centers and institutes moving forward.”
The group, he said, also will work with the UI budget review board.
Harreld in his presentation to the regents stressed the university must find alternative funding sources to implement its strategic plan.
Without it, he said, should state funding levels stay the course, “the board and Iowans know the university will struggle to fully implement its strategic plan.”
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