The Board of Regents heard more information Thursday from the consultants hired to find ways to save money and be more efficient. The Deloitte consulting firm outlined more of what are called “business practices” which it says could lead to staff reductions while saving the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa millions. The cuts in staff would come mainly in the human resources, information technology and finance areas.
There were not a lot of specifics discussed, including the cost to implement some of the plans, but Regent Larry McKibben of Marshalltown says the specifics will come as the board decides how to proceed. “We’re now going to start into the sorting phase, we first of all have to determine what the regents will approve in November. That’s still an open question subject to town hall meetings and an agreement by the regents. At that point in time we will get to the implementation phase and certainly we’ll be very specific with the cost aspect of that, as we were in the initial phases,” McKibben says.
Board president, Bruce Rastetter of Alden, says they have to determine what the schools can and can’t do. “Part of that process that will be involving the universities, is the resources they have and the time they have and whether the people they have there have the time to work together,” Rastetter says. Rastetter was asked about the need for cost-saving measures at a time when the enrollments at the schools are thriving. “I’ve always kind of believed if you are wasting money, you stop wasting money,” Rastetter says.
He says it’s about transforming the universities and using innovation and technology to do things at a lower cost. He says this is one way to try and help students who have faced mounting debt as they try to pay for college, as the savings are to go back to each school. “The alternative, not doing anything, is to continue to raise tuition. And we believe as a board that that’s unacceptable,” Rastetter says. “And the great news is that the universities are working with use to want to get more efficient, to help get more efficient, and to reinvest those dollars.”
McKibben says each school can become stronger by helping the others. “We’ll have our own missions and our own unique parts of our universities — but to the extent that we all work together to help each other — we’ll be the best state in the nation to send people to the three regent’s universities,” McKibben says. Public hearings on the recommendations are scheduled for October 6th at 3 p.m. on the UNI campus in Cedar Falls, at 9:30 A.M. October 9th at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, and 8:30 A.M. on October 13th at Iowa State University in Ames.