How LAS is handling budget cuts


Catt Hall 2016

Brian Mackley

Even with recent budget cuts by the Iowa Legislature to the Iowa Board of Regents and the possibility of more coming this year, students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) don’t have to be worried about losing any of their curriculum next year.

As the college waits for the Iowa Legislature to finish their yearly budget, the college does not know how many new staff will need to be hired on for next school year. LAS expects to be conservative in next year’s hiring process but even with the possibility of more budget cuts and reversions, students won’t see any drop in courses.

Current Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Beate Schmittmann is making sure the college is putting its resources where they need to be to ensure students can be successful. Due to the recent cuts, the college has made changes to be more efficient with the money given to them by the Board of Regents.

“The top priority for LAS is always make sure that students get seats in their required courses,” Schmittmann said.

Schmittmann and the college have worked to reduce expenses within the college that immediately do not serve students. One way the college has done this is by waiting until the budget given to them is finalized so they can adequately hire new staff. In addition, the college has narrowed down its IT staff as well as changed when students can take certain courses.

“Everyone may have to plan a little bit more carefully, but all the big courses that are required for a lot of students we’ll keep offering every year,” Schmittmann said.

Another way LAS is remaining innovative while going through budget cuts and preparing for the next upcoming school year is by offering fewer sections of certain courses to begin with and adding more sections only as they need them.

“We are trying to keep it very close to student demand so that we don’t end up with sections that are not quite full,” Schmittmann said. “We want them all to be full so we don’t offer more than is absolutely necessary.”

While things seem good for now in LAS, this upward direction inside the college could begin to fall if the Iowa Legislature continues this trend of cutting education funding.

“These are things that I think we can live with for a period of time without too much impact on students, but I am concerned that if we continue to see more and more reductions from the state,” Schmittmann said.

LAS is also offsetting budget reduction through making the most of its recent $150 million endowment given to the college earlier this year. The college is planning on using the majority of this new endowment on attracting new students by tripling the amount of money going to student scholarships as well as funding to improve and innovate its current courses.

“It doesn’t help us offset the budget cut but I think that it’s a very important commitment to our current students,” Schmittmann said.

For now, it seems LAS still remains strong after all the recent budget cuts and continues to keep serving its students first. With a new budget coming soon, the college will continue to wait and remain adaptive while they see if their budget will be reduced yet again.

“From a student perspective, I think the students will continue to feel well served,” Schmittmann said.