Letter to Iowans

December 2010

To All Iowans:

The Board of Regents, State of Iowa, is pleased to present this Annual Report on the progress of Iowa’s Public Universities and Special Schools for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2010 (“FY 2010”).

As we discuss more fully in the pages that follow, FY 2010 was one of the most financially challenging periods in the 101 year history of the Iowa Board of Regents.

The global financial crisis which began in late 2008 hurt many Iowa families through lower home values or job losses.  Iowa’s Public Universities and Special Schools struggled as well, as state appropriations to the Regent enterprise – a critical source of support to our educational mission – declined $133.6 million or fully 19% from initial FY 2009 appropriations.  The severity and swiftness of these cuts threatened decades of investment by Iowans to build the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, the University of Northern Iowa, the Iowa School for the Deaf, and the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School and Statewide System for Vision Services into outstanding educational institutions that benefit all citizens of our state.

FY 2010 was also an inspiring year of protecting the core values and quality of our institutions and putting students first.

In FY 2010 our institution heads conducted comprehensive, top-to-bottom, strategic reviews of their operations.  We also challenged our institutional leaders to re-think and re-focus their academic and business functions, for the near term and the long term, to identify additional efficiencies and operational savings, to maintain appropriate alignment of their programs with their institutional missions, and to ensure long-term success; all while minimizing, where possible, any negative impact on our students.

As a result, the institutions were able to absorb 80% of the reduction in state appropriations into their operating budgets and to hold the FY 2010 resident, undergraduate tuition increase to 6%, well below national trends.  And, despite difficult financial times, in FY 2010 Iowa’s Public Universities also increased the amount of need-based financial aid to students to unprecedented levels.

This Annual Report presents our strengths and successes, candidly discusses the challenges, and makes the case for a renewed commitment from our elected state leaders to fund Iowa’s Public Universities and Special Schools going forward.

When Iowans are hurting, it is only fair that Iowa’s Public Universities and Special Schools share in the sacrifice.  And they have done so, without complaint.  But, as the Report makes clear, the decline in state support for Iowa’s Public Universities and Special Schools was not just a reaction to the financial crisis.  It has been going on for years.

As a result, in FY 2010, for the first time ever, the State of Iowa contributed less to the general education budget of Iowa’s Public Universities than our students and their families paid through tuition (41.5% vs. 51.9%, respectively).  In real dollar terms, state support fell to pre-1980 levels.

The State of Iowa cannot afford to continue on this path.  Further budget reductions are certain to be detrimental to the quality of our institutions, limit the availability of important academic programs, and damage access and affordability for our students and their families.

As the current financial storm begins to clear, the State must chart a different course.  If we want to grow attractive, knowledge-economy jobs in our state, and enable our children and grandchildren to makes their lives and raise their families here, then we must reinvest in the quality, access, and affordability of Iowa’s Public Universities.  Not just their futures, but the continued prosperity of our State, depend upon our actions.

In closing, I would like to thank the Iowans to whom these institutions belong, as well as our elected officials, for making public higher education a priority in Iowa.  I am extremely proud of the extraordinary efforts and accomplishments of the faculty, staff, students and administrators of Iowa’s Public Universities and Special Schools in FY 2010.  I invite you to read the full Annual Report to learn more of the remarkable year just ended.

This report is our effort to account to Iowans on our efforts to preserve, protect and to grow these outstanding institutions.  We look forward to your questions and comments, and thank you for this opportunity to serve.

Sincerely,

David W. Miles, President
Board of Regents, State of Iowa

© 2011 Board of Regents, State of Iowa

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