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Q&A with Pres. Mason: Economic downturn, flood recovery

BY DI STAFF | JUNE 30, 2009 7:21 AM

On Monday, the Daily Iowan sat down to talk with UI President Sally Mason about the economy’s effect on campus cuts and ongoing rebuilding efforts following last summer’s flood.



( Daily Iowan video feature )

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DI: UI Hospitals and Clinics officials have started laying people off. What is their status, and how are they dealing with it?

Mason: To their credit, they’ve done a tremendous amount to reduce the [budget deficit], so that we’re really looking at a fairly small number of layoffs. That’s no consolation for anyone that gets laid off, but with a workforce of over 6,000, we’re looking at around 130 layoffs. The Hospitals and Clinics was not eligible for stimulus money like we were … The UI Hospitals and Clinics has been facing things since the flood last year, when numbers of admissions had to go down by necessity, because it was even difficult to get to the hospital during to the flood.

DI: What is the current status on decisions about rebuilding Hancher and the Arts Campus?

Mason: I think it’s safe to say that the Art Building location — probably not too controversial — will have the plan ready to go for the Board of Regents [in August]. With Hancher, Voxman, and Clapp, the performing arts [buildings are] trickier. We know that, and we want the community to be as involved as possible in helping us make the decision on this facility … In July we’re going to have the first of a couple of open forums, where anyone from the community can come. Our campus planners will lay out the options for locating Hancher, Voxman, Clapp — and just do it in a general way so people can have a chance to think about these things and comment on them… And then we plan to have another open forum, probably early in the fall semester, where we hope we’ve narrowed down the locations for [those buildings], maybe to one or two.

DI: After the decision to cut the German program, will there be more programs under consideration to be cut?

Mason: Every university goes through a program-review process or should go through a program-review process on a regular basis … I think with our budget situation we are facing, we have to look at them all. We have to make certain that they are meeting certain standards in terms of number of students who are enrolled. Obviously, when you have a Ph.D. program — and you don’t have a large number of students in your Ph.D. program — you need to think hard about how central it is to your mission and whether this is something you need to continue doing for the indefinite future. That’s what’s happening with German.

DI: If you had just graduated high school and were going through Orientation, what would you do to set yourself up for college?

Mason: I’d work my summer job. Hopefully, I’d have one. I was one of those college students who didn’t have any money, so work was essential. I couldn’t work enough. So for me, the summer was work, work, work, get ready for college, save as much money as I could for tuition, and have some left over for spending. Really, just getting myself prepared. I was one of those probably geeky kids who went to summer orientation and bought my books and had read most of my English books before I started … I always liked to think I could get a little ahead, so I could procrastinate a little later … I think my best advice is: If you’re doing Orientation, if you can get some books and get a head start, that’s a great way to get a leg up.


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