The Iowa Board of Regents today approved the 8 remaining recommendations from a consulting firm that are projected to make the operation of the three state-supported universities more efficient. The recommendations from the Deloitte firm center on sharing operations in areas such as human resources, finances and purchasing in order to save money.
The administrations at Iowa State University, the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa will implement some of the changes themselves, while the board is sending out requests for proposals for outside companies to implement others. Some of the plans could lead to cutbacks in staff, which Board of Regents president, Bruce Rastetter says the schools are ready to handle.
“We have said that we believe that through attrition and other aspects that we will be able to deal with the potential if indeed there is job loss,” Rastetter says. Regent Larry McKibben of Marshalltown led the review committee and says the faculty and staff makeup at the three campuses is very different and there won’t be one set procedure for dealing with the issue. “We have some of the university folks who have already talked about a phased retirement plan and how that might happen. Some of the ages of the faculty at the three universities and the staff people are different,” McKibben says. “We think it would be way to premature at this stage of the process to begin worrying about that issue.”
He says they need to first get to work on implementing the new plans before determining how they will impact the employment situation. “And then as we move forward to wrapping up the implementation phase, we’ll come closer to determine by university how that finalization of the implementation phase will take place in the next 12 months,” McKibben says.
Both Rastetter and McKibben said last month that they favored a third year of freezing in-state tuition for the three schools and using some of the savings to help do that. McKibben says with the time available for implementing the plans, it is still possible to find and use savings for a tuition freeze. “The buy-in is there and the desire to move forward and recognize these savings is there and I think 18, 19 months is more than enough to save that portion that we are talking about for tuition,” according to McKibben.
McKibben has said he expects the proposals from the consultant will lead to millions of dollars in savings, but says they still do not have an exact number on how much will be saved.