Mason honored during final board meeting of her presidency
Thursday, June 4, 2015

The following is a roundup of highlights from the June 4 Iowa Board of Regents meeting in Ames:

President Mason honored

UI President Sally Mason
President Sally Mason

The Iowa Board of Regents honored University of Iowa President Sally Mason during the final board meeting of her presidency. Unfortunately President Mason was unable to attend due to illness. Regent Katie Mulholland presented a plaque and read a resolution honoring Mason’s work to improve student success and expand access.

During Mason’s tenure:

  • Four-year graduation rates have risen from 47 percent in 2007-08 to 51.1 percent in 2013-14
  • Freshman retention rates are up from 83 percent in 2007-08 to 85.8 percent in 2013-14
  • Enrollment has grown from 30,328 in Fall 2007 to 31,387 in Fall 2014

New Regents introduced

Regents President Bruce Rastetter today welcomed the three new board members recently appointed by Governor Terry Branstad. 

  • Ms. Mary Andringa of Mitchellville, chief executive officer and chair of the board at Vermeer Corporation, an industrial and agricultural equipment company headquartered in Pella.
  • Ms. Patricia Cownie, a philanthropist and community leader from Des Moines.
  • Ms. Rachael Johnson of Sioux City, an education major at the University of Northern Iowa.

They replace Ruth Harkin, Bob Downer, and Hannah Walsh, who were honored at the April board meeting.

UI course changes approved

The Regent universities submit an annual report of course changes, including the addition and elimination of courses, and changes in department numbers, course numbers, course titles, and semester hours. Since the last report in spring 2014, the university added 368 courses to the curriculum and eliminated 216 courses, for a net increase of 152 courses.

The net increases occurred primarily in the Colleges of Dentistry and Liberal Arts and Sciences.

  • The College of Dentistry implemented a revised Curriculum Management Plan for the D.D.S. program, which resulted in a net change of 48 new courses.
  • The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences added course offerings in response to student demand, which resulted in a net change of 128 new courses.

Campus Safety and Security Sub-Committee

The Board is establishing a new subcommittee of the Education and Student Affairs committee to review best practices for responding to sexual violence and harassment and reporting of on-campus crime. The subcommittee will include a chair, vice chair, and at least one representative from each of the universities and special schools. They will meet at least twice a year.

Annual Regent student financial aid study

In 2013-2014 there were 24,808 full-time, resident, dependent undergraduate students who received and accepted financial aid at one of the Regent universities, an increase of 989 students or 3.9 percent over the prior year. The increase in students filing for aid follows two years of decrease. Financial need is calculated by subtracting the expected family contribution from the cost of attendance (tuition, fees, books, room and board, and personal expenses).

  • 10 percent had a family income less than $30,000
  • 18 percent had a family income between $30,000-$59,999
  • 22 percent had a family income between $60,000-$89,999
  • 49 percent had a family income above $90,000.

At the University of Iowa, there were 7,165 students who accepted financial aid, an increase of 578 students or 8.8 percent over the prior year.

Campus sustainability annual report

Each Regent university achieved a Gold rating in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) program. UI highlighted several programs:

  • The Climate Narrative Project: A unique media arts project to expand discussion regarding the growing impact of global climate disruption, chronicling regenerative approaches to energy, food, agriculture, water and waste management, community planning, and transportation.
  • Sustainable Fuel Index: With grant funding through the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, the university is investigating the methods for identifying and developing a sustainable bio-renewable fuel supply. The university created an inter-institutional project team to systematically evaluate the sustainability of biomass energy to be co-fired with coal in the main power plant.
  • Energy Smart Classroom Scheduling for the Summer Session: In Summer 2014, general assignment classroom activities were suspended after 6 p.m. on weekdays and all day on Saturdays and Sundays in the selected buildings. Air handling systems were cycled down during unoccupied times in those buildings. Electrical consumption during the 10-week summer session was reduced by an average of 19 percent in the three buildings (EPB=13 percent; Maclean=17 percent, Pomerantz=27 percent).
  • Miscanthus Harvesting and Testing: The University of Iowa will soon be growing its own crop dedicated entirely to creating energy. The plant—a sterile hybrid grass called Miscanthus—will be harvested and used to supply power, steam, and chilled water to the main campus. The project is part of the UI’s Biomass Fuel Project, designed to reduce the use of fossil fuels by substituting locally available renewable materials in the main Power Plant, with the goal of achieving 40 percent renewable energy consumption by 2020.

Salary policies

  • AFSCME & Merit System Supervisory and Confidential Staff: The statewide collective bargaining agreement provides an across-the-board increase of 2.5 percent on July 1, 2015. Eligible merit staff members will continue to receive step increases of 4.5 percent at their next scheduled merit increase dates, until they reach the maximum of their pay scales.
  • SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION (SEIU at UIHC): A voluntary agreement on wages for a two-year contract beginning July 1, 2015, provides for an across-the-board increase of 2.75 percent.
  • COGS (University of Iowa graduate assistants): A voluntary agreement for a two-year contract beginning July 1, 2015, provides for continuation of the minimum tuition scholarship in an amount equal to 100 percent of the cost of resident graduate tuition for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the College of Education. The agreement also provides for contribution of 25 percent of mandatory fees and a 1 percent increase in the average graduate assistant stipend.
  • Nonorganized Faculty and Staff: The approved policies and matrices are subject to approval by the executive director upon consultation with Board of Regents leadership and will be included in the docket for the August meeting.

Standard & Poor’s settlement update

More than 28,000 UI employees and retirees will receive about $50 each as part of a settlement reached between the Iowa attorney general’s office and Standard & Poor’s Rating Services. The agreement is in response to allegations that S&P fraudulently rated finance securities in the years leading up to the 2008 financial crisis that made the securities appear stronger than they were. This lowered the value of TIAA-CREF retirement funds in which UI employees participate.

Board of Regents employees and retirees will split the $2.5 million from the $21.5 million settlement that has been designated for distribution. Those who had active TIAA-CREF accounts between September 2004 and October 2007 and are still active will receive a portion of the settlement.

Property and facilities

UI leaders presented the 2016 Capital Plan to the Board, which reflects the anticipated FY2016 capital projects, pending further review, available funding, and approval by the Regents.

The Board approved requests from the university to proceed with plans to expand the Pathology Core Lab and the Pediatric Specialty Clinic. The Board also authorized utility enabling projects and entrance plaza landscaping as part of the new University of Iowa Children’s Hospital construction.

In addition, the Board approved the university’s request to purchase property located at 104 East Market Street at a price of $2.6 million. The parcel is immediately adjacent to the central campus, including the Pentacrest, the John Pappajohn Business Building, and numerous other academic buildings, as well as residence halls.

Safeguarding IT and institutional data

University of Iowa Associate Vice President and Chief Information Officer Steve Fleagle presented to the board along with his colleagues at our sister institutions. He described UI’s dedicated security team, which includes significant expertise in computer forensics. Fleagle says IT can turn off access to more than 300 systems simultaneous if under cyber-attack and uses two-factor authentication on many systems, meaning access requires both a password and mobile phone activation.

Because everybody shares a role in security, Fleagle says IT is continually working on campus awareness and training. “Passwords are like underwear. You must change them often and shouldn’t share them.”