Mason: University of Iowa could physically restructure campus

Staff is doing ‘serious rethinking about how the campus looks’

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June 11, 2014 | 7:09 pm

The University of Iowa is considering “physically restructuring” its campus to make room for more students after announcing plans to grow last week in light of a new Board of Regents model for allocating state dollars.

The Regents last week approved tying 60 percent of the state’s higher-education dollars to resident enrollment, a move that — if numbers remain unchanged at Iowa’s three public universities — would make Iowa State University the top funded institution and pull up to $47.8 million in UI appropriations.

In response to the new metrics, UI officials have said they plan to ramp up recruiting of in-state students — while maintaining its push for out-of-state students — in part by expanding its use of paid advertising, online communication, earned news coverage and outreach visits to in-state high schools.

Mason, at a Staff Council meeting Wednesday, addressed the issue by saying the university is going to get larger and look more like other Big Ten campuses.

“If those are the rules of the game, by golly we’re going to play,” Mason said.

She told the Staff Council that she expects the competition to be stiff — as ISU and the University of Northern Iowa also have expressed intentions to ramp up recruitment of Iowa students. But, Mason said, she’s glad to vying for the state dollars with the UI community.

“If we get students, we get money — that’s the motivation,” she said.

In light of plans to grow enrollment and make room for more students, Mason said her staff is doing some “serious rethinking about how the campus looks.” That could include a physical restructuring of the Pentacrest that would move some of the administrative offices out and more academic programs in.

She said the Old Capital, and its current use, likely would remain unchanged. But everything else is up for discussion — including the possibility of additional building projects.

“We’ll have to see what our needs will be,” she said.

The regents’ new funding model also ties 15 percent of state allocations to progress and attainment, 10 percent to access, 5 percent to graduate and professional student enrollment and 5 percent to sponsored research, while 5 percent is left up to the regents.

The new metrics will be rolled out over a three-year period beginning in the 2016 budget year, and the regents capped the amount of money that can move from one university to another each year at 2 percent of the 2013 budget.

With that cap, if enrollment proportions remain unchanged at the universities, the UI would lose $12.9 million of its appropriations a year — money that would be split 50-50 between the other two schools.

Former Regent David Miles, who chaired the task force charged with reviewing Iowa’s funding model, said the new methodology better aligns state funding with regent goals and more appropriately subsidizes in-state student tuition.

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