A legislative leader says he’s sending a message to the board that governs the three state-supported universities. In November the Board of Regents will set tuition rates for the next academic year at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa — and one Regent has suggested a tuition hike of 6% is in order.
During a weekend appearance on Iowa Public Television, Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal said he hopes it’s much less than 6%. “Three or four years ago we started working with the Board of Regents. Tuitions had nearly doubled over a four or five year time span. We worked with them and said we would commit ourselves to trying to find additional resources and, in essence, we had this grand bargain: if we found those resources, the Regents said they would keep tuition increases at or below the higher ed inflation index,” Gronstal said. “And I’m hopeful that the Regents will do that.”
But Gronstal is not wading into the debate about whether the presidents of Iowa, Iowa State and U.N.I. should get bonuses. Some Republican legislators have said now is not the time to award bonuses to the campus executives, but according to Gronstal, that’s up to the Regents to decide and legislators shouldn’t “mess around” in a personnel matter.
“The process we have set up is one where we have Regents manage the Regents institutions. I think that’s their job,” Gronstal said. “…We have a Board of Regents of highly professional people that we put in to run our Regents institutions. I think it’s kind of for them to make judgments as to what’s important in order to maintain quality at our universities. The moment we start playing politics with it is the moment we start discouraging highly-qualified people from wanting to be at our Regents institutions.” Three Republicans in the Iowa House said last week that “Iowa families are making sacrifices and tightening their belts” during this recession and it’s time for the universities to do the same and do away with the “performance incentives” or bonuses for the university presidents.