Steven Leath, administration review university’s long-term goals

Danielle Ferguson

With the new academic year underway, goals set by ISU President Steven Leath in 2012 are being checked for progress.

An objective to raise $100 million for the university overall between July 2012 and July 2013 was exceeded with $112 million to $113 million raised last year.

“I promised to raise $150 million for student scholarships,” Leath said. “We promised to do that in the next five years.”

To meet that goal, the university would need to raise $30 million each year.

“I was pleased in the first year we raised about $55 million. We’re way ahead of our schedule,” Leath said. “That doesn’t mean that if we reach $150 million we’re going to quit.”

A January 2014 deadline of adding 200 faculty members within two years to keep the student ratio from “going wacko,” as Leath put it, is close with 140 hired.

“The hiring is going fairly well,” Leath said. “We’re most delighted that the applicants are really strong, which is good for every aspect of the university.”

Leath is not sure when the goal, introduced in January 2012, will be met.

Leath’s commitment to not raise student mandatory fees this year was met with the Iowa Board of Regents approving to freeze undergraduate in-state tuition for the 2013-14 school year.

Also approved by the Board of Regents this summer was a four percent raise for Leath, as well as University of Iowa President Sally Mason.

The Board of Regents informed the three presidents they could have a zero to four percent range of raise increase.

“We felt the two university presidents that were up for review, Mason and Leath, met [the Board of Regents’] goals and objectives, so we went at the top end of that range at four percent,” said Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter.

ISU faculty, professional and scientific staff members who performed satisfactory work were able to receive raises for the second year in a row, after going two years with a lack of money to fund faculty raises.

The lowest paid faculty received a higher percentage of a raise compared to those whose salary was higher.

“There was an amount that was basically set for satisfactory performance for everybody, and that’s where the differential came in,” said Faculty Senate President Veronica Dark. “If you were already low in terms of salary, your satisfactory boost was bigger than if you were already paid at a higher rate.”

Once satisfactory performance raises were distributed, the remainder of the allowed money for raises was distributed based on merit of each faculty member. The faculty’s merit is decided within each department.

“I could never give [the faculty] all the raises they would like to receive,” Leath said. “We felt … the lowest paid faculty and staff … had the most disadvantages of all the cuts in terms of things like commuting, medical costs, gas, etc., so we set a slight differential for our lowest paid faculty to get a higher percentage.”

The increasing enrollment continues to flash on Leath’s, as well as faculty’s, radar as a concern to be dealt with. Teacher-to-student ratio and living space are still on Leath’s mind. Faculty members are also concerned with classroom availability.

“Every room is full. [A professor] can offer later in the afternoon or an 8 a.m. class, but students don’t like that,” Dark said.

Along with working on classrooms and student-to-faculty ratio, the university is planned to practice recommendations made by the Board of Regents Transparency Task Force.

Before every regents meeting, there will be a recorded hearing on all the university and special school campuses for any citizen to present an issue or opinion before the board. Each university and special school will have an officer who is responsible for tracking public record requests and leading each public hearing.

Shirley Knipfel, assistant to the president, is the transparency officer for Iowa State.

Plans for the meetings are soon to develop in the president’s office.

“This is an issue that really came out of the Legislature … about schools being more transparent and citizens of Iowa having an opportunity to address the Board of Regents and have input,” Leath said. “It’s a good idea.”