Board of Regents to examine business plans for improved admissions and committees

Danielle Ferguson

Business cases involving how students apply to Iowa’s three public universities could be approved at this week’s Board of Regents meeting.

Deloitte Consulting, the firm chosen by the board to perform a comprehensive review of the three regent universities, will present three business cases to be approved for implementation at the Sept. 9 and 10 Board of Regents meeting. Two business cases deal with admission procedures while the third is focused on professional and scientific search committees.

Deloitte found opportunities to make the application process uniform across Iowa State, University of Iowa and University of Northern Iowa.

The first of the two admissions business cases deals with a common online application portal that would allow students to fill out one application to send to all three regent universities.

“I think the idea is that they want to create some added convenience for students so they don’t have to fill out three different applications to three different universities,” said Phil Caffrey, Iowa State’s associate director of admissions.

The applicant would still be responsible for application fees at each school.

An estimated cost to create a common online portal is about $500,000, but Jeneane Beck, regent spokesperson for the TIER study, said there are multiple methods to create the portal.

“Cost is still being flushed out,” Beck said. “We’re going to research. There [are] a variety of ways you can do a common portal, so it will be unsure to talk about cost at this point.”

The second of the two admissions cases would standardize the way the universities calculate the Regents Admission Index, commonly referred to as RAI. The RAI is calculated by adding an applicant’s ACT score, high school grade point average, number of high school courses completed in each core subject and the high school class rank.

High schools in Iowa are moving away from the class rank technique, Caffrey said.

“Right now, each university admits those students in a kind of different way,” Caffrey said. “They want to standardize all of that. You should have the exact same RAI score at each of the universities if you attend a school that doesn’t rank.”

Iowa State uses a mathematical formula to estimate a class rank for applicants who attend a high school that doesn’t rank.

For example: a student whose high school GPA is 3.7, an ACT score of 27, eight semesters of math and four semesters of science would produce an estimated class rank in the 82 percentile. That number would be added into the RAI calculator.

If the applicant’s RAI score is at least 245, that applicant is automatically admitted to the university.

Iowa and Northern Iowa use different methods, Caffrey said.

“Deloitte is suggesting that all three do the same thing,” Caffrey said. “ To make it so that we’re each evaluating applicants from these no rank schools the same way.”

The third business case found an opportunity to reduce the amount of hours university staff spend on the professional and scientific staff search committee and make the process uniform across the universities.

The review focuses more on search committees, a group of faculty and staff that helps recruit and screen job candidates, as opposed to the whole professional and scientific recruitment process, according to the board document.

The benefits are more related to time saved rather than money saved and will focus on effectiveness, Beck said.

Deloitte found that across the three universities, about 70,868 hours of professional and scientific staff time was spent on search committees.

Deloitte also found that Iowa State’s professional and scientific staff spends an average of 30,348 hours on search committees.

“It would free people up if they’re not spending as much time on search committees to do other important work,” Beck said.

If the business case is approved, the amount of hours spent on search committees would be reduced to about 13,584 hours at Iowa State and 33,456 hours in all three regent universities combined.

The three business cases will be discussed and up for vote for board approval Sept. 10 at 1 p.m.

“These three business cases [have] a goal of efficiency and hopefully some cost savings, Beck said. “These three are more about cost and transparency.”

The Board of Regents meeting will be in Ames on Sept. 9 and 10 in the Sun Room of the Memorial Union. Livestream audio will be available on the board’s website.