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Release: Aug. 31, 2000

UISG leaders respond to Gov. Vilsack's UI visit

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- After meeting with Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack on campus earlier this week, University of Iowa Student Government (UISG) leaders say they are looking forward to working with the governor to promote the UI as a resource for all Iowans and to balance the needs of education in the state.

"The governor was right when he said the UI should do a better job of communicating to Iowans that Regents' schools are a resource for every citizen, and we hope he can help Iowans discover this, just as he did during his visit," says Andy Stoll, president, UISG.

Stoll says he is glad that the governor had a chance to see the variety of offerings at the UI, which affect the entire state.

"Supporters of higher education around the state have a lot of work ahead of them to convince the governor and the legislature that the Regents' universities are an important part of this state. We must all work hard to let the greater public know that strong state support is essential in not just improving, but maintaining the quality of UI services," Stoll says.

While Vilsack did not make any promises to increase UI funding, student leaders who attended the meeting said they were happy that the governor said he would do what he could to support the Regents' schools during the upcoming legislative session.

"The governor's comments reflect his recognition of the importance of funding higher education, but we have to balance competing needs," says Chris Linn, vice president, UISG.

"It is important that we don't fund one area of education at the expense of another, however. Each area of education relies on another for its success," Linn says.

While the governor spoke of the large amount of dollars allocated to Regents schools per student, UI student leaders said they hope that Iowans put the numbers in context.

"Numbers are numbers. They can be spun in different ways to fit an agenda. The bottom line is that the University of Iowa is struggling through a $10 million shortfall year, which has delayed improvements in quality," Stoll says.

Before this week's Town Meeting with the governor, student leaders had a chance to talk with Vilsack. During the meeting, they offered their help in putting together a panel of students from the three Regents' schools to address the problem of keeping college graduates in the state.

"As a native Iowan and someone who really loves the state, this is an issue that is close to me," says Linn.

"I hope we can do a thorough job of finding creative solutions that the state can implement to keep graduates in the state," Linn says. He added that UISG will be coordinating this effort in the coming weeks.