Guest: New funding model hurts UI

BY GUEST OPINION | MAY 12, 2014 5:00 AM

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The recent recommendation by the Performance-Based Revenue Model Task Force of the state Board of Regents to allocate legislative funding largely on the basis of undergraduate Iowa residents enrolled would prove devastating to the University of Iowa. If fully implemented, the recommended revenue model would slash our annual legislative-general-fund appropriation by nearly $60 million, with those funds being reallocated to the other two schools. Our state appropriation has been shrinking as a part of the university’s overall budget for education and other core functions for decades; nevertheless, it represents the financial foundation on which all university functions rest.

Has the University of Iowa been a responsible steward of the support we have received from Iowa’s citizens? The facts speak for themselves. We are the only public university in Iowa ranked in the top 30 nationally. We have numerous highly ranked programs, including writing, speech pathology and audiology, nursing, medicine, law, psychology, English, political science, sociology, art, civil and environmental engineering, and many others. We are the sixth best college in the nation for military veterans. We offer an unsurpassed undergraduate experience, including more than 200 majors, minors, and certificate programs, and more than 40 percent of our undergraduates are involved in research with faculty mentors. Seventy-nine percent of dentists, 50 percent of physicians, and 48 percent of pharmacists in Iowa are UI graduates. We have teachers and administrators in 100 percent of Iowa’s school districts. From outside the state, our faculty and staff attract more than $400 million a year in research funding; although this funding cannot legally be used to support undergraduate teaching, it does have an enormous economic impact on the state. Our overall statewide economic impact amounts to $6 billion a year, yielding about $16 in revenue for every $1 of state funding.

Beyond undergraduate education, the UI has the additional core mission to provide high-level graduate and professional education. Our graduate and professional programs are world-class and often are available in the regents’ universities only on our campus. The graduates of these programs — doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, engineers, teachers, social workers, and others — provide vital services to Iowans. These programs are much more resource-intensive than undergraduate teaching; yet, they greatly increase the value of every UI undergraduate degree, by establishing our strong national and international reputation, one that stands above peer institutions in the region.
All of these accomplishments and the opportunities they provide for our students and citizens are threatened by the recommended funding model of the regents. We appreciate that our prime mission is to serve the citizens of the state of Iowa, and we have surely succeeded in doing so. Many of our out-of-state and in-state students do remain in Iowa and contribute to the state’s tax base and economic development. However, it must also be appreciated that, like all great universities, the UI is a major research institution that applies the talents of its faculty, staff, and students to serve our nation and the world. Iowans are duly proud that we undertake this multifaceted mission, and they have supported it for decades.

The recommended funding model of the regents undermines the comprehensive mission of the UI, and it does a grave disservice to the citizens of Iowa. In addition, it pits the three regents’ universities against one another in a needless financial contest. Each school has its own unique identity and mission. Why not continue to respect and celebrate those differences?  And why not tailor funding to the strengths of these three fine universities instead of mandating a “one size fits all” model?

Jonathan Carlson
professor of law
Faculty Senate president 1999-2000
faculty member since 1983

Carolyn Colvin
associate professor of teaching and learning
Faculty Senate president 2000-2001
member of the faculty since 1991

Jeffrey Cox
professor of history
Faculty Senate president 2002-2003
member of the faculty since 1977

Edwin L. Dove
professor of biomedical engineering
Faculty Senate president 2010-2011
member of the faculty since 1988

David R. Drake
Professor of Microbiology
Faculty Senate President 2009-2010
member of the faculty since 1988

Richard Fumerton
F. Wendell Miller Professor of Philosophy
Faculty Senate president 2011-2012
member of the faculty since 1974

N. William Hines
Rosenfield Professor and Dean Emeritus, College of Law
Faculty Senate president 1973-1974
member of the faculty since 1962

Richard Hurtig
Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders & Starch Faculty Fellow
President Faculty Senate President 1994-1995
member of the faculty since 1976

Sheldon F. Kurtz
David H. Vernon Professor of Law
Faculty Senate President 1996-1997; 2006-2007
member of the faculty since 1973

Michael W. O’Hara
professor of psychology & Starch Faculty Fellow
Faculty Senate president 2008-2009
member of the faculty since 1980

Jerald L. Schnoor
Allen S. Henry Chair in Engineering
Faculty Senate president 1993-1994
member of the faculty since 1977

Katherine H. Tachau
professor of history
Faculty Senate President 2004-2005
member of the faculty since 1985

Edward A. Wasserman
Stuit Professor of Experimental Psychology
Faculty Senate president 1997-1998
member of the faculty since 1972

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