The top administrators at Iowa, Iowa State and U-N-I say the quality of their institutions may suffer if the universities endure another year of deep reductions in state taxpayer support. Governor Branstad is calling for a six percent cut.
University of Iowa president Sally Mason heads an institution which has seen its budget cut by about 20 percent over the past two years and she told legislators yesterday cutting six percent deeper would be difficult.
“Now I’d like to sit here and claim, ‘Sure we can do this, no problem,'” Mason said. “If I did that, I think I would be fooling you and I would certainly be fooling myself.”
I-S-U president Gregory Geoffrey says that six percent cut would be on top of the $62-million that’s been cut from his university’s budget since the recession began.
“If Governor Branstad’s budget proposal were to be enacted, that cut would rise to $72 million,” Geoffrey says. “That’s a very, very large number.”
University leaders say they’ve streamlined administrative costs as much as possible, but class sizes are larger and there are fewer classes.
Board of Regents President David Miles says Iowa’s three public universities have taken harder budget hits than universities in other states.
“While the vast majority of states across the country had to reduce appropriations in this financial crisis, in (fiscal year) 2010 only five states in the country cut their appropriations to higher education more than Iowa did,” Miles says.
Gloria Gibson, the acting president of the University of Northern Iowa, says if Branstad’s six percent cut is enacted, U-N-I’s state funding would dip to the where it was in 1998.
“Even with a tuition increase and a modestly-predicted enrollment increase, when we add up new unavoidable expenses we anticipate starting the year with a multimillion dollar deficit,” she told legislators.
Representative Cecil Dolecheck, a Republican from Mount Ayr, is co-chair of the committee that will draft education spending plans and he says lawmakers may cut a little bit deeper in the university budgets than Branstad has proposed.
The Republican who heads the House Appropriations Committee wants the University of Iowa to sell a valuable painting and use the profits for scholarships. Jackson Pollack’s “Mural” — painted in 1943 and is considered one of the most famous paintings by a modern American artist. It is valued at $140-million and was given to the university in 1951.