The University of Iowa
Special Senate Meeting
Tuesday, October 16, 2001
Capital Senate Chamber
Abdel-Malek, J. Aikin, J. Berg, D. Bills, T. Boles, D. DeJong, J. Desmond, R.
Hamot, L. Hunsinger, R. Hurtig, J. Jew, M. Klepser, S. Kurtz, S. Larsen, R.
LeBlond, P. Lloyd, J. P. Long, C. Lynch, D. Manderscheid, T. Mangum, K. Marra,
J. Menninger, S. Moorhead, P. Muhly, W. Nixon, T. O’Dorisio,
G. Parkin, J. Polumbaum, A. Qualls, M. Raymond, C. Ringen, J. Ringen, T.
Schmidt, H. Seaba, W. Stanford, S. Stromquist, K. Tachau, L. Troyer, E.
Wasserman, R. Weir, P. Weller, J. Westefeld
J. Altman, S. Armstrong, Z. Ballas, N. Bauman, C. Berman, R. Bork, M.
Browning, P. Chang, J. Cowdery, H. Cowen, K. Diffley, C. Dungy, , B. Fallon, L.
Geist, V. Grassian, R. Hegeman, J. Jew, M. Klepser, P. Kutzko, R. LeBlond, P.
Lloyd, J. P. Long, C. Lynch, A. McCarthy, R. Miller, J. Moyers, I. Nygaard, C.
Porter, P. Rubenstein, L. Snetselaar, C. Sponsler, S. Vincent
Heidger, D. Brown, L. Dusdieker, B. Muller, R. Slayton, R. Valentine
Senate Officers in Attendance: Amitava
Bhattacharjee, President; Jeff Cox, Vice President; Erin Irish, Secretary;
Carolyn Colvin, Past President
Charles Drum (University Relations), Panayot
Butchvarov (Philosophy), Lola Lopez (Office of the Provost), Susan Birrell (HLSS),
Bonnie Slatton (HLSS), Sheila Benson (LLC), Dennis Roseman (Mathematics),
Celeste Albonetti (Sociology), Maile Sagen (Ombudsperson), F. Charlton
(Anthropology), Philip Lutgendorf (Asian Language and Literature), Jeffry
Schabilion (Biological Sciences), John Beldon Scott (Art History), Jackie Rand
(History), Heather Woodward (Press-Citizen),
Steve Collins (Electrical Engineering), Joe Bolkcom (State Senate), Bob Dvorsky
(State Senate), Michel Gobat吀(History), Jon Whitmore (Provost), Vicki
Hesli (Faculty Assembly), Kristin Clark (Office of Faculty Senate), Keith
Stroyen (Mathematics), Lee Anna Clark (Office of the Provost), Mark Schantz
(General Counsel), Tamara Meertz (Des
Moines Register), Barbara Eckstein (English), Steve Hoch (Office of the
Provost), Raul Curto (Liberal Arts and Sciences), Francisco Sanchez (Spanish and
Portuguese), Tom Dean (Office of the President), Lisa Heineman (History), Derek
Willard (Associate Vice President), Mary Mascher (State Representative), Stephen
Vlastos (History), R Myers (State Representative), Laura Gotkowitz (History)
Call to Order
meeting was called to order at 3:38.
Bhattacharjee began the meeting by thanking the Senators and guests for
attending this special meeting of the Senate.
Approval of Meeting Agenda
Tachau moved and Prof. Hunsinger seconded the following:
approve the agenda. The motion carried.
New Business: Political
responses to the budget crisis
introduced the business of today’s meeting by announcing that when he called
the meeting, the budget cut was extremely substantial.
It is now less, but combined with the cut earlier this year, it still amounts to
a crisis for public higher education in this state. Referring to
President Coleman’s speech of September 25, he
spoke of a widening
gap between the resources from the state and elsewhere, repeating her caution
that they are not
he added that we are
looking more and more like a private university.
The issue is not what constitutes a fair cut. If the state is having a shortfall, we should share the cuts.
Our meeting here today is an attempt to come to grips with the problem. While we are
working with the administration to make cuts that would be the least painful to
the university, we must also articulate to the wider public our views on state
support of the university.
began the discussion by
stating that a
fundamental problem we face here and nationwide
is the attitude that if there is a national need, we “turn on the faucet.”
But our services are not like a faucet: the
educational service universities provide are not instantaneous, taking, for
instance, four years to train a physician, three years for a lawyer, four years
for a undergraduate to be educated. Fearing
that higher education is at risk in this country, he pointed out the
difficulties in dealing with a budget that is determined on an annual basis, and
suggested that our budgets be worked out in terms of 3-5 years, a time-frame
similar to the educational programs we provide.
Cox read the resolution that he had prepared (given below), and copies
establishment of publicly funded state universities that combine the highest
quality teaching and research with accessibility to students regardless of
financial means represents one of the highest achievements of American
have contributed to that achievement by building up over many decades a public
system of higher education based on what President Mary Sue Coleman refers to as
a contract between the people of Iowa and our state universities;
contract, which depends in equal parts on (1) the provision of high quality
teaching and research, (2) accessibility to students, and (3) adequate state
funding, is being eroded in a process of "fiscal privatization".
therefore as faculty members of the University of Iowa:
President Coleman's defense of the public character of Iowa's state
universities, and her opposition to "fiscal privatization";
upon all Iowans, including community and political leaders throughout the state,
to renew their commitment to high quality, democratically accountable public
our state legislators from Johnson County to speak out publicly in defense of
faculty to speak out in defense of public higher education directly to our state
legislators, the governor, and the people of Iowa through whatever means
Prof. Cox moved and Prof.
Colvin seconded the following:
To accept the resolution.
Discussion continued with Prof. Hunsinger agreeing
with the resolution and returning to President Coleman’s speech, asking what
caused the loss of support. President
Bhattacharjee responded that much of it amounts to fiscal realities:
tax cuts were passed, and there were unexpected revenue shortfalls.
Prof. Tachau brought up the Taliban, which is often spoken of as imposing
a medieval regime. She pointed out
the only education they had available is religious, in contrast to our society
in which we enjoy secular institutions of higher education. She suggested that
we have gotten too comfortable, adding that we are willing to pay for security
at home, but a broader security includes education for the people.
Prof. Kurtz countered that political powers don’t want to spend more
money. He made the point that, in the past, the university received a lot of
support from the state, but at that time they had no one else to support.
Now the state also provides support to community colleges and private
schools. There is also the problem that we are not visible in western Iowa.
He admitted not having a solution, but could identify part of the problem
as increased competition, both within the state and at a federal level.
Prof. Seaba, mentioning that she went to school on a
national defense scholarship, went on to point out that an important part of
national defense is an educated public. Addressing
visibility of the university within the state, she brought up our significant
service mission, and suggested that “service” be added to “teaching and
research” in Prof. Cox’s' resolution as a friendly amendment (paragraphs 2
and 3), which was accepted.
Menninger addressed a more specific issue: why we were singled out by the
governor and the legislature “for special treatment.” He fears that it is
likely to happen again. He
suggested that an appropriate response would be a political pothole, some
obvious failure to provide an essential service that would make the voters take
notice. Contrary to the principles drawn up last week for budget reduction,
which included protecting financial aid and the four-year graduation plan, he
argued that instead, we should protect those things that makes us special, such
as research. Prof. Hurtig, who had
proposed the pothole analogy earlier, addressed Prof. Kurtz’s point, asserting
that our primary responsibility is what we do for people, producing educated
citizens and professionals, while they are students here, a point that seems to
have been lost here and elsewhere. Prof. Desmond concurred with the last three
speakers and argued that we are only 19% a public university, suggesting that if
the state truly wants us to be a public university, our support from the state
should rise above 19%. Prof. Nixon asked that we consider what is appropriate
for faculty to do, and suggested we do something akin to sitting at the gates of
the castle. He suggested that we
make the failure of the legislature apparent by embarrassing them.
Bhattacharjee took this suggestion as an opportunity to distribute a list of
state leaders and representatives, provided by Vice President Willard, to whom
one could write in support of the university.
Prof. Cox stated his belief that there is no need
to create academic potholes; they will become apparent on their own.
He reiterated President Coleman’s statement that we are in no position
to demand, and added that we really need the 19%.
He urged us to talk directly to our legislators, especially those from
Johnson County. He thought we
should also get the regents to speak out for public universities.
Prof. Colvin added that Jane Hoshi is actively trying to recruit faculty
to speak in western Iowa. She went on to add her support to Prof. Cox's
resolution, and asked us to consider the changes that would occur if we became
more privatized. Prof. Hunsinger
called the question, with a second by Prof. Tachau.
(see above). The amended motion passed.
and Prof. Tachau seconded the following:
To open the floor. The
the discussion by suggesting that we be certain of our facts, regarding the 19%
state support of the university, or of the amount covered by tuition. Prof.
Hunsinger returned to a few issues that had been raised earlier.
He agreed that potholes would appear automatically.
He asked whether it is worthwhile to maintain the university as a public
university. As a member of the College of Medicine, he would be less affected by
such a change than most, yet he is vehemently opposed to becoming privatized. He
went on to propose that we win the hearts of the people, not just those of the
legislature. If we don’t keep undergraduate education as our highest priority,
we will lose the support of the people of Iowa.
Prof. Kurtz disagreed, pointing out that how we view our mission could be
quite different from the view of the citizens of Iowa.
Representative Bolkcom joined the discussion, saying that he is critically
concerned about the governor's proposal. He
does not believe we should have to balance the budget of the university on the
backs of students. He pointed out
that the community colleges are having their worst year, ever.
The governor believes that historically, the state has not done well by
K-12 education, and his remedy is to recut the pie, taking from the Regents
universities. Bolkcom continued that we have had an historical commitment to
state support of quality higher education, and wondered where tuition hikes will
take us with respect to ranking in the Big Ten.
He mentioned that there are other constituencies making forceful claims
for increased state support. He
offered to let any of us shadow a legislator for a day, to see who is running
the state, and what our representatives are doing for us. Prof. Tachau responded
to Bolkcom's suggestion, saying that she had thought for years that faculty
members should be shadowed, as most people don' t have a good idea of that goes
on in a typical day here. Prof.
Hurtig addressed Bolkcom's point that many constituencies feel that their needs
are not being met, with the thought that the size of the pie is fixed.
He asserted that we, as voters, need to wake up and accept the reality
that services cost money. Rep. Bolkcom agreed, saying that many politicians want to
give money back, rather than taxing us appropriately, making the comparison to
European countries where taxes are much higher than in this country.
He read a list of tax cuts, making the point that it is a tough thing to
Cox asked how much the annual tax cut is, to which Bolkcom responded, 2.9
billion dollars over 6 years. President
Bhattacharjee asked how best to communicate to the leaders of the state the
value of higher education, explaining that it is not just the voters that need
to be educated, but the governor as well. Bolkcom
suggested that visits every day they are in session from a carload of faculty
could get their attention, plus provide an opportunity to engage the leaders.
Prof. Nixon expressed concern about the partisan tone the discussion had
taken, pointing out that the governor is a democrat.
Turning to the immediate problem, he asserted that it is devastating for
any organization to be told midyear that their budget has been cut when there is
no way to make up the lost money. Prof.
Hanley added that she was shocked that the university had been singled out, and
argued that we should consider becoming a real constituency, by organizing
Dick Myers was introduced by Rep. Mascher, who reported how tireless he has been
in converting the
7%, targeted cut, to the 4.3%, across-the-board cut. Myers began by reminding us that the legislature is
restricted by laws that dictate how the budget is set and how much can be spent.
He asserted that the downturn in the state economy happened very quickly,
adding that blame is irrelevant: the
law says we must, as a result, cut spending.
He said that it is a revenue problem but so far has been treated as a
spending problem. As this is a political issue, and he has 44, not 51 votes, he
fears going into special session. Whereas he doesn’t believe there will be
further “messing around” with the 4% cut, he is waiting for the budgetary
repercussions of the September 11 attacks. Admitting that the revenue situation
is dire, he thought that there were solutions other than spending cuts or
raising taxes, such as delays in tax breaks.
He also discussed the possibility of dipping into the emergency fund,
which exists as state law allows only 99% of revenue to be spent.
Unfortunately using this fund is complicated by earlier overspending.
He concluded by predicting that the entire next legislative session will
be spent on the budget. He warned
that many legislators believe that students and their parents should be paying
more for college.
Tachau, wondering if there was any way we could increase revenues, suggested
that we reclassify our services as homeland defense, analogous to public health,
an idea that Rep. Myers liked. Prof.
Kurtz suggested that the law that bars us from changing tuition midyear be
examined, as community colleges are not so restrained.
Rep. Myers responded by voicing his preference for giving people the
ability to plan ahead. Prof.
Hunsinger then redirected the discussion by reinviting other guests to
participate. Taking his cue, President Bhattacharjee thanked Rep. Myers
and the other state representatives for attending the meeting and for their work
to convert the 7% to a 4% cut.
Rand spoke to the issue of reaching “western Iowa”, warning not to speculate
too much about how they view us and recounting her previous experience in
establishing a Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.
Analogous to that effort, she felt that while it is important and useful
to talk to distant Iowans, it was likely that the political processes would
outpace any changes that would come about as a result of the dialogue.
Hurtig returned to the idea of building a constituency, pointing out that the
UNI faculty is unionized, but that it does not help them fundamentally.
What needs to happen is a public realization of the cost of the goods
provided by our universities. He added that in many cases the bad guys had once
been our own students. Prof. Nixon
countered that whereas we have been calling on Iowans to be democratically
accountable, perhaps the reverse should be true. People think we work 4.5 hours/week, teaching classes in
which students need to be warned of content.
Maybe we should be demonstrating the merit of supporting us.
Prof. Tachau stated her belief, shared by all of us, in the importance of
public education. She worried that a basis for our current budgetary crisis is
that our vision of what a university should be does not mesh with most
people’s vision, of Saturday afternoon football, Thursday night basketball,
and a hospital. Prof. Hunsinger
terminated the discussion by thanking President Bhattacharjee for calling the
session and Prof. Cox for composing the resolution, then moved to adjourn the
meeting, with a second from Prof. Nixon.
meeting was adjourned at 5:10.