Because The University of Iowa is a state university, the legislature significantly influences its budget, and your involvement with your local legislators can have an impact on the resources available for your child’s UI education.
“The more we can have parents telling their legislators to support the University legislative agenda, the better,” says Mark Braun, UI director of state relations.
For that reason, the University has an ongoing UI Advocates program that provides parents, alumni, and other UI supporters with information and tools that enable them to effectively communicate with their local legislators. As advocates, parents will receive regular updates from Braun’s office about how the Iowa House of Representatives and Senate are making higher education funding decisions.
These updates educate advocates about University-related legislation and funding proposals, enabling parents and other advocates to then share their thoughts with their local legislators.
Even though UI officials are in close contact with members of the legislature, a visit, phone call, letter, or e-mail from a parent can have a significant impact on how individual legislators understand UI-related issues.
“Legislators view parents as the underwriters of their children,” Braun says. “When those underwriters say they want something, that resonates with the elected officials. If a parent raises an issue with a member of the legislature, I’ll hear about it in the rotunda of the state capital the next day. The more contact we can have on the University’s behalf, the more influence we can have. ”
Braun and his counterparts at Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa spend their days at the state capital when the legislature is in session, attending committee meetings, reviewing bills, and keeping the lines of communication open between the universities and the General Assembly. By building relationships with legislators, Braun positions the University for favorable consideration when budget decisions are being made.
This session, the three Regents universities are encouraging the General Assembly to support a $40 million funding package, dubbed the “Partnership for Transformation and Excellence.”
This plan is a four-year strategic effort to ensure moderate, predictable tuition for Iowa students at the three universities. If it is funded as requested, the Regents will hold tuition increases for Iowa undergraduates to the rate of inflation determined by the Higher Education Price Index.
The Regents’ plan also will require the three universities to reallocate at least $20 million in internal resources to the top priorities of high-quality education programs, research, and public service for Iowans.
For more information on the proposal, visit the web site.
“I’ve been serving as the University’s liaison to the legislature for six years, and the University and Board of Regents has the most coordinated and structured approach to the legislative session that I’ve ever seen,” Braun says. “The opportunity for state support is as good as it has ever been, and support from parents will help bring our funding proposal to fruition.”
For information on becoming a UI Parent Advocate, contact Braun’s office at (319) 335-0553 or visit the Governermental Relations site.