UI President Barbara Wilson speaks with community members at the Iowa State Board of Regents meeting at the Levitt Center for University Advancement in Iowa City on Thursday, June 3, 2021. Governors heard from the three public university presidents in the open session. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

On Tuesday, the Iowa Board of Regents will conduct mid-year performance reviews of their university presidents, who over the past year have faced a host of notable issues and challenges — such as transitioning from pandemic-era restrictions, free speech on campus, and hundreds of millions in new facilities and upgrades.

Judges will conduct evaluations behind closed doors because every president has requested it, according to the board — citing a portion of the Iowa Code that allows closed session reviews only if requested by those being evaluated.

In addition to University of Iowa President Barbara Wilson, Iowa State University President Wendy Winterstein, and University of Northern Iowa President Mark Nock, the board will evaluate its CEO Mark Brown and John Cole, who has been serving as interim superintendent of the Iowa School for the Deaf and Iowa Educational Services for the Blind and Impaired since July 1 .

The reviews will not bring about compensation or contract changes – as they usually do during annual assessments in the summer. Last June, Wilson and Winterstein each took an 8.3 percent salary increase for the 2023 budget year — bringing their base compensation from $600,000 to $650,000.

Nook’s pay has held steady at $357,110 — though, like Wilson and Winterstein, he’s secured a new deferred compensation deal that will pay him hundreds of thousands if he stays for several years.

For the 2022 budget year that ended June 30, Wilson received salary payments totaling $597,348 — just under the $600,000 base rate as she began her presidency two weeks into the budget year. According to new state salary data, Winterstein saw her total wages come to $618,000 — higher than the base rate of $600,000, because it includes extra salary and other forms of compensation.

Cool, with a base salary of $200,983 for the current budget year, earned total salaries of over $127,660 in fiscal year 2022, according to state data.

And Board Executive Director Brown — due to a complex salary matrix the board uses to get around state law that caps the job salary at $154,300 — was paid $390,336 in the most recent budget year.

in the last year

Since administrators last sat down for a review in June, the campus has increased tuition and has had fewer students on campus than in years past. The three universities combined for a total enrollment of 68,933 in the fall — down 8 percent from 75,030 in 2019 before the pandemic.

Enrollment this year was 14 percent lower than its peak of 80,068 in fall 2015. Looking at campuses individually, UI only saw enrollment rise slightly this fall from last — although it remained below pre-pandemic levels.

When universities requested an additional $32 million in higher-education money from the legislature in the coming fiscal year, they set their priorities for next year by disclosing how the money would be used — should they ever get it.

  • UI, which is seeking $12 million more, has committed $7 million to increasing the number of nurses in Iowa through initiatives such as its “Master of Science in Nursing: Entry into Practice” program aimed at creating a fast-track path for non-nurse college graduates desiring to become Nurses nurses.

“When fully implemented, the college will be able to increase its capacity with the intent of graduating an additional 48 nurses each year,” UI officials said in the allowance request. “This is a 30 percent increase in the number of nurses the School of Nursing will prepare to enter the workforce.”

UI also wants to use $5 million to improve higher learning outcomes for students who are the first in their families to go to college.

“Students who are the first in the family to attend college have lower retention and graduation rates than peers who have family members with college experience,” according to the UI funding question. “Addressing this disparity has been a primary focus of the university.”

  • Iowa State, which is also seeking a $12 million bump, will be split on several priorities — including first-generation student success; meet the country’s manpower needs; strengthening mental health programs and resources; and support innovation in agriculture, manufacturing and biosciences.
  • If UNI gets the additional $8 million it requests, $4 million will go toward keeping tuition down so the campus can compete with regional peers. The other $4 million will go toward graduating more teachers to address the “growing shortage of teachers in the state and across the country.”

Vanessa Miller covers higher education at OJ.

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