President Leath talks funding with Faculty Senate

Makayla Tendall

President Steven Leath spoke to faculty about money the university will receive from the state and how he feels about the Board of Regents’ performance-based funding model at the Feb. 10 Faculty Senate meeting.

Leath started the meeting talking about the amount of money the university will receive from the state for the fiscal year. As it stands, the university is receiving around $6.4 million, but Leath said that number could change because the budgets are released in a narrative form at this point.

“It’s unclear how much we’re going to get,” Leath said. “It’s never as good as you hope. It’s probably as good as you can expect.” 

Leath said part of the reason he hoped Iowa State was going to get more money was because of the tuition freeze that would keep the tuition the same for in-state students. However, the university’s cost still rise for various reasons, meaning Iowa State will have to find ways to make up for those costs without using students’ tuition money.

The Regents enacted the third tuition freeze, although Iowa State’s Government of the Student Body “eloquently” recommended having tuition raise in smaller increments, so students’ tuition will not suddenly rise after years of tuition freezes when universities must accrue the extra costs, Leath said.

“We get full funding for Iowa State students, but what it means is we get about $9,000 from the state for every undergraduate student,” Leath said. “The University of Iowa gets over $14,000. $9,000 is below the cost of education.”

Leath said part of the way the university will be able to make up for those expenses is through the performance-based funding model that awards universities more money based on the amount of in-state students who attend the school in an effort to award Iowa taxpayers who pay taxes for the regent universities.

There are more than 20,000 in-state undergraduates, Leath said. 

The University of Iowa would receive the lowest amount of funding because it has the lowest amount of in-state students. However, the University of Iowa recently planned to merge with the AIB College of Business in Des Moines, which would mean the university would have more in-state students.

Leath said he had not heard of the University of Iowa’s plans from President Sally Mason before the merger was to take place, though the Regents recently said AIB would be the Regional Regents Center managed by the University of Iowa.

Leath said Iowa State had looked at expanding its reach to Des Moines, but the best available space would not have been at the AIB College.

“We’re not enthused at this point, but it is what it is,” Leath said. 

Part of the state’s funding model for the regent universities would also allow more money for the amount of research and education being done in certain fields.

Leath said Iowa State’s “growth has probably been a little too fast in some ways,” but growth in the fields of agriculture, life sciences and biology has expanded, which could lead to more funding. 

Leath said Iowa State has also raised $117 million and plans to reach its fundraising goal of $150 million in the next couple of years. The university is also hoping to receive $3.2 million from the Regents to make up for the deficit in tuition funds and another $5 million for research.

However, “we’ve got to be realistic,” Leath said.  

In addition, the university may get more money depending on the amount of diversity. Iowa State has plans to higher a chief diversity officer and has promised children in two diverse Des Moines public schools full scholarships when they graduate high school. 

Leath said this could “create a pipeline” for diversity.