The presidents of Iowa’s three Regents Universities made their annual trek to the statehouse today, urging lawmakers to approve their budget requests for the upcoming fiscal year. Their appearance before the education budget panel was marked by gratitude for last year’s higher appropriation after years of lean times for the schools.

Iowa State University president Gregory Geoffrey thanked the lawmakers repeatedly. "Those appropriations made a huge difference at Iowa State University. They helped us get out of a hole that was created by the tough budget years. They helped us gain momentum in a number of critical areas," Geoffrey said. All of the presidents said the extra funds helped them raise faculty salaries to retain and attract outstanding teachers.

New University of Iowa President Sally Mason was making her first appearance before the education budget-writers. She said competition for first-rate faculty remains fierce. "Even with this progress we still rank at or near the bottom of our peer group at Big 10 and AAU institutions," Mason said, "so now is not the time to back away from this type of commitment."

President Ben Allen said the money has made a big difference at UNI. "Last year’s support has allowed us to move forward with 17 new faculty hires and seven staff positions to support the academic mission. Your support has had an immense impact on morale on staff, faculty and students." Governor Culver has recommended funding $42 million of the Regents’ $44 million budget request this year.