Mason: Growing enrollment will soothe dwindling state support


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University of Iowa President Sally Mason lauded campus flood recovery and talked about rising tuition during her State of theUniversity address on Tuesday night.

Mason told UI student leaders the university will continue to rely on increased enrollment of out-of-state students for increased funding as state appropriations lag. Masono also said students will be able to attain more grant and scholarship money to meet rising tuition. Mason’s speech came before a joint meeting Tuesday of the UI Student Government and Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students.

Mason said flood recovery and campus renewal remain a major priority for the UI, noting anticipated completion dates for damaged campus buildings.

“We have rebounded wonderfully,” she said.

She compared the monetary damages of the 2008 flood to that of Hurricane Katrina. She estimated the flood caused about $1 billion worth of damage to the UI campus.

“[Recovery is] not moving as fast as any of us would like, but it is moving,” she said.

Hancher Auditorium and various music buildings have estimated completion dates of 2015 and 2016, while the lower-level of the IMU will likely reopen in 2013 or 2014, Mason said.

“I’ve seen the designs, and it’s spectacular. It’s going to knock your socks off,” she said. “[The changes] really will transform this campus in a way that no other campus has the opportunity to do.”

She also addressed increasing tuition rates. Though UI tuition has steadily increased every year since 1981, she said students shouldn’t worry about the price of their education.

“Don’t be fooled by the price,” she said. “We’re willing to negotiate.”

She said scholarships will help alleviate some of the costs of tuition. This year, the UI has increased the funds set aside for scholarship funds from $33 million in the 2009-10 school year to $46 million in the 2011-12.

“[There are] more and more opportunities to offer scholarships,” Mason said. “We’ll have more ways of making up the difference by other means of support.”

One of the UI’s strategic plans is to use enrollment increases as a way to offset in-state appropriations, she said. The UI receives $200 million in state appropriations each year.

“Our state appropriations are still … critical to our university,” she said.

Mason urged the leaders to maintain open communication in the coming school year.

“Partnership has been essential to my leadership policy,” she said. “Working together … it should always be one of our common goals.”

UISG President Elliot Higgins expressed his gratitude for Mason’s support over the years.

“She has provided a high level of support [for student governments],” he said.

Executive Council President Kelli Todd had a similar opinion.

“It’s wonderful that we have the opportunity to have direct communication with our president,” Todd said.

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