I understand that your son Josh is a senior in high school and looking at colleges. Have you been able to visit any colleges with him, and if so, how does it make you feel about The University of Iowa?
I’ve been able to go on a few visits with Josh, and looking at other colleges is very instructive. It has put me in the position of thinking about college and students from that other perspective, from the “other side of the desk,” I guess you could say. I’ve come back thinking very positively about how our admissions staff does their work, and it makes me proud of how we deal with our orientation tours and orientation sessions for those who’ve accepted admission here. It also makes me want to further emphasize the important role of the Parents Association in interacting with me and with the rest of the administration, because the parents’ perspective is so important.
Have tuition increases for next year been set? How will the state’s revenue shortfall affect the University?
At this point, it looks likely that the Regents will set next year’s undergraduate tuition increase for Iowa residents at $360.
By keeping the increase at this level, lower than recent increases have been, I think the Regents are expressing their concern for the burden that recent tuition increases have created for students and their parents. They’re also making a public statement about the importance of protecting accessibility to the institution and of maintaining quality. However, such a relatively modest increase is also a calculated risk. In order for the University to maintain quality, the legislature will need to be supportive of Iowa’s universities. Because of the recent announcement of a state appropriations cut, maintaining quality will be a big challenge for us. We are currently looking at ways to deal with this. It’s important for parents and students to remember that they can be terrific advocates for higher education and for the University.
As I pledged to parents and students, I want to do my part to control the rate of rise and predictability of tuition in my interaction with the Regents, who set tuition. The more stable the state appropriations, the more stable the tuition. With the present state budget problems, this is a very difficult time for everybody. I applaud the Regents for having the discipline to do two things: one—to try to maintain a reasonable balance between accessibility and quality, and two—at the last Regents’ meeting, they asked the three universities [The University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa] to develop internal processes to review the entire approach to setting tuition. Interim Provost Pat Cain has charged a group to look into that—they’re working on that right now.
How is the University’s capital campaign going?
The campaign continues to be very successful. It’s ahead of schedule in the sense that we’ve achieved about 78 percent of the campaign’s dollar goal [$665 million raised out of $850 million] with just 69 percent of the campaign period elapsed. There is a substantial thrust in the campaign on scholarships and on curricular facilities and buildings. I’m very interested in the scholarship aspect of the fund-raising—I’m going to make that one of my contributions, both personal, by contributing money, and by helping to fund-raise. Especially at a time of pressure on families because of tuition increases, I think it’s very important to work on more scholarship assistance.
How will the new provost affect undergraduate education?
The provost has a huge effect on the students because the provost is responsible for the hiring of all the deans and because the admissions office and the student financial aid office report to the provost—it’s a very important position from the viewpoint of parents and students. A national search is currently under way and we hope to be able to name a new provost by spring 2004.
I want to thank former provost Jon Whitmore for his years of service to the University and wish him the best in his role as the president of Texas Tech University. I also want to acknowledge and thank Pat Cain for stepping into the role of interim provost on September 1, where she will remain until a permanent replacement is named. Pat is a distinguished educator and scholar from the College of Law who is very student-oriented, and she is doing a terrific job.