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Release: Aug. 25, 2000

UISG and Gov. Vilsack to discuss higher education issues

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa Student Government leaders say their Monday, Aug. 28 Town Meeting with Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack will cover several issues, among them tuition and state funding for the UI, keeping UI grads in the state and making the state more attractive to new businesses.

The meeting of UISG representatives, the governor and all interested students will take place at 11:15 a.m. in the Terrace Room of the Iowa Memorial Union.

Christopher Linn, UISG vice president, says the student body will stress to the governor that the UI is an invaluable resource for all Iowans and, as a result, it is vital that the state appropriate enough money for the UI to operate, and to increase the quality of the institution.

"When the governor makes his recommendations for funding to the state legislature, he sets a ceiling for funding. If his recommendations are low, the legislature isn't likely to increase them, especially in a tight budget year," Linn says.

"State appropriations directly impact tuition and possible increases. That is why it is important that students attend this event and that they tell Gov. Vilsack their feelings," Linn says.

The Iowa Legislature reduced the UI's fiscal 2001 budget by $2.8 million and underfunded the UI's requested salaries and fringe benefits by $4.2 million. The combination of the shortfall, salary funding, base reductions and other mandatory cost increases that were not funded resulted in a $10 million shortfall, which the UI had to address in other ways, says Doug Young, UI controller.

Linn and other UISG representatives say tuition at the UI may "unreasonably" increase next year as a result. This would come on the heels of a recently approved 6.9 percent tuition and fee increase for 2000-01 year, most of which is being used to cover the unexpected shortfall in state appropriations.

The UISG, in a letter to Vilsack, wrote that if the quality of the UI is to improve, "it must receive consistent financial support from the state. The Regents system serves more than 67,000 students and it is a resource for the 2.9 million residents of Iowa as well."

On keeping students in Iowa after graduation and attracting more higher-paying and quality jobs to Iowa, the UISG says the state could do more in attracting highly competitive and quality companies, as well as those that pay higher salaries.

"An obstacle to keeping younger people here is the perceived lack of recreational activities," the UISG further wrote. The state could play a role in promoting recreational opportunities and the state's more relaxed atmosphere, which may be attractive to people in large metropolitan cities.

Monday's Town Meeting will be the first time Vilsack has visited campus this year to hear opinions directly from students on these and other, broader issues.