When you visit The University of Iowa, its hard to ignore the huge medical complex on the west side of the Iowa River. But unless youve been a patient, its difficult to understand how large and prominent our medical facilities are. What does the medical complex mean to the University?
As an academic medical center, University of Iowa Health Care is considered one of the elite in the country for its size and the prominence of its faculty and research. Its extremely well regarded.
People are surprised to realize that when you include all the facilities in Iowa City and our clinics around the state, UI Hospitals and Clinics have almost 800,000 patient visits a year 41,000 admissions and 740,000 outpatient visits annually. With an operating budget in excess of $500 million, the UIHC encompasses a broad spectrum of clinical services, including the Childrens Hospital of Iowa and the NCI-designated Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center. It also is a teaching hospital, closely affiliated with the College of Medicine and with the other health-related colleges, Dentistry, Nursing, Public Health, and Pharmacy.
We educate a lot of students in those colleges. The College of Medicine and the hospital have revenues that pay 94 percent of their budgets. The state of Iowa contributes about six percent, most of it for care of indigent people throughout the state. So we are a statewide resource for Iowas citizens.
On the research side, its sometimes not widely known that the presence of the hospitals makes a big difference to researchers in such fields as engineering and physics, as well as medical researchers.
Thats a real positive that the University can point toits easy for researchers to cross disciplinary and college lines and do interesting research together. One good example is Professor Kate Gfeller, whose primary academic area is music. She is doing groundbreaking work in otolaryngology and speech pathology, working with children who get cochlear transplants. The presence of the medical facilities enriches everyone, and this cross-fertilization ultimately results in better patient care.
So its a resource for the state of Iowa and the United States in terms of patient care and research. What does it mean to undergraduate students?
We have a very good Student Health Service, first of all, and it is overseen by the hospital. If a student has serious problems, he or she will have access to all the medical expertise in the hospitals and clinics. There are numerous students who find work in laboratories and other research facilities in the health care facilities. If that complex werent there, wed lose hundreds of student jobs.
But its also an area for students to find volunteer opportunities. Of course, the big one is Dance Marathon. Students have embraced that activity so fully, they work all through the year to make it work. I think one of the important facets of Dance Marathon is that it allows our students to get to know the children who are cancer patients and their families. They work with them long after Dance Marathon is finished and stay in touch with them even after they graduate. Its a volunteer opportunity for them, yes, but they learn more than they give back in volunteer service.
Weve been seeing the first consequences of the multiple cuts that have been made in the Universitys funds this year because of Iowa state budget cuts. How do these reductions affect undergraduates?
The University of Iowa has experienced three reductions in state appropriations in this fiscal yeara total of $38.1 million University-wide. The most recent reduction of $5.9 million$4.9 million of it from the General Education Fund, which most affects undergraduatesis especially difficult for us to cope with because of our increased spring enrollments and because most of our funding for this fiscal year is already committed.
Administrative units will receive a 50 percent higher cut than academic units because protecting academic quality is our highest priority. In addition, we protected financial aid and library acquisitions from any cuts at all.
In our summer session, we are eliminating 11 course sections, 222 student enrollments, and 809 credit hours. Because of that, we will lose $175,000 in tuition revenue, but we are saving more in instructional costs than we would lose in the tuition revenue.
Within the College of Education, weve closed journalism education, communication studies education, health occupations education, and a minor in human relations. A new fee has been announced to cover student teaching costs. Since the number of lecturers the college employs will be reduced, class sizes will rise.
Faculty positions have been eliminated by combining two sections of a chemistry class into one and cutting two first-year chemistry classes for the fall. Fewer elective classes in psychology and fewer tuition scholarships in womens studies will be available.
Weve reduced student hourly employees in the library. Weve reduced international activities on campus, particularly visiting lecturers.
We will strictly enforce our enrollment management guidelines. For this year, that means a firm application deadline of May 15. For next year, the deadline will be April 1. And we have shifted the cost for admissions and other student services programs to mandatory fees. In other words, we are cost-shifting to students.
Other areas, such as reductions in the number of full-time equivalent faculty, cuts in capital equipment replacement, suspension of admission to some graduate programs, and lowered support for start-up funds for new science instructors also may affect some undergraduate students in the future.
We are still waiting for word from the Iowa statehouse regarding state appropriations for the next fiscal year. We will keep parents apprised of developments. Thank you for everything you are doing to help us weather these difficult economic times in our state.
How is the work going to restore Old Capitol after the disastrous fire in November that destroyed its dome and caused extensive water damage?
Im impressed by what Ive heard of the construction plans so far. Its going extremely well. But it may not show on the outside for a while. We have had to make sure that the building is stabilized. Weve had to bring the humidity back down very slowly. The people who are doing the work are experts and I feel confident they will be able to bring the building back. Hopefully, well get started with reconstruction this season, but Im realistic. This will be a slow process.