Three members of the board that governs the state-supported universities attended their last regular meeting today in Council Bluffs. The terms of Board of Regents members Robert Downer of Iowa City, Ruth Harkin of Cumming and Hannah Walsh of Spirit Lake are ending.
Walsh is the student member of the board and told fellow board members that her vote in favor of the new funding plan that would distribute 60-percent of the funding based on the number of in-state students, was a mistake.
“Being representative of all of our regents students has been incredibly important to me. And I felt that voting yes would serve as a testament to my devotion to this mentality. This is a decision I’ve come to regret,” Walsh says. “As much as I wanted to be a representative of all, we cannot tear down one university to build up two.”
Walsh is a senior at the University of Iowa, the school that will lose money under the new funding formula. “While I do believe that some portion of funding should be tied to the number of Iowa students attending each university — the current percentage is too high — and the role that graduate/professional students play, too low,” Walsh says. She says the unique nature of each school is one of the strengths of higher education in Iowa.
“No two of our universities are totally alike. Each contributes differently to the state of Iowa, each bettering our state for future generations,”Walsh says. “Individually our institutions are strong, but together our institutions are even stronger. I worry that such a high percentage of funding tied to our in-state students will diminish the strength that we, along with so many others, have built.” Walsh says she also feels there’s a need to add a graduate student representative to the Board of Regents.