The board the governs the three state universities discussed several budget issues during a meeting via telephone Wednesday, including a directive to find more savings between the campuses of the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa.
Regents president David Miles says the schools have already done a lot to trim their budgets to save in the wake of a cut in state aid, and they now need to find more cost savings between the schools. He listed four areas, including the hiring and training of employees.
Miles says they need to examine employee benefits to find policies that hinder efficiencies and cost savings. Secondly they need to review employee training to see if they can save through shared training, and they also need to review employee wellness to see if they can save by sharing.
Miles says they also need to look at facilities. He says they should look at system wide contracts for equipment, “Green Cleaning Products and Services” and savings that may occur by reducing health risks; inventory levels that might be reduced if offsite storage can be secured, and finally electronic bids that move them more towards paperless systems.
Miles also asked them to look at information technology and the possibility of sharing software licenses, e-mail systems and web management. The fourth area is purchasing. This includes cell phones, printing and insurance coverage. The regents approved Miles’ directive for the schools to examine these items.
The regents also approved the early retirement incentive plan for the University of Iowa. Regent Ruth Harkin said she did not like the plan. Harkin says she’s concerned that there should be parallel programs for each of the schools and she said the U-I program is still “too rich” in its incentives. Regent Michael Garnter said he agreed with Harkin. But regent president David Miles defended the plan.
Miles says Harkin and Garner’s arguments are sound, but says he does not believe the retirement incentive plans need to be identical and should instead be tuned to each campus. The plan passed with Harkin, Gartner and regent Craig Lang all voting against it.
The regents passed a resolution on funding for the athletic departments at U.N.I. and Iowa State. Miles read the resolution. Miles says it asks the universities to assess the feasibility of and make plans that would over time eliminate the general fund subsidies for college athletics.
The resolution asks U.N.I. and I.S.U. to report on the feasibility of operating without budget support by the regent’s September meeting. The University of Iowa already has moved away from taking general fund money for its athletic department’s operation.