Cedar Falls, Iowa -- University of Northern Iowa President Ben Allen announced today strategic decisions to reallocate and realign resources to support academic priorities and to ensure future growth.
"We remain committed to our vision of becoming one of the nation's premier public universities, and our mission of providing the best possible academic experience for our students," Allen said. "The current economic challenges and changes taking place in higher education provide an opportunity for strategic repositioning of the University of Northern Iowa for the next decade. We want to define our own destiny rather than allow circumstances to do it for us."
Pending approval by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, UNI administrators will make the following program and services changes:
- Recommend the closure of Malcolm Price Laboratory School
UNI will continue to lead the nation in teacher education by incorporating the latest research and development models in partnership with education experts, leading universities and school districts. Malcolm Price Laboratory School has been an integral part of the strong heritage of achievement in teacher education at UNI, but it is not feasible for UNI to continue to subsidize the school or to invest millions of dollars to improve the aging school building. The financial constraints, combined with current best-practices and research that support realistic and diverse field experiences for education students, make it necessary to recommend the closing of the school by June 30, 2012. Funds will be reallocated to Iowa's Statewide Research and Development initiative and the UNI teacher education program.
- Reduce general fund support for Intercollegiate Athletics
UNI is continuing its progress toward reducing general fund support for the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. Through a combination of expense reduction and revenue generation, general fund support provided to Athletics will be reduced by an additional $500,000 over the next three years. Athletic Director Troy Dannen will provide more detail as soon as final decisions are made. Elimination of sports programs is not anticipated.
- Integrate selected UNI Museum collections within campus and community for greater student access
Successfully integrating selected collections into library and department buildings is a primary goal to provide enhanced student access and stronger visitor traffic. The current museum building is in need of major repairs and renovation. The museum building will be closed to the public June 30, 2012 and the collections will be moved to various campus and community locations to provide research, teaching and outreach opportunities. The university will retain ownership of the collections. The closure will save $200,000 annually as well as capital funds that would be required to renovate or build. Office and exhibit spaces will be provided.
- Print services partnership for access to new technology and services
A partnership with a variety of local printing and copying companies will provide access to the latest technology and lower overall printing expenses. UNI Print Services will close no later than June 30, 2012. This change will allow UNI to avoid more than $400,000 in equipment replacement costs, as well as department salaries and benefits.
These recommended program changes and cost savings will allow UNI leadership to invest in programs (academic and non-academic) where there is the greatest demand and need.
- Academic program changes -- announcement next week
A separate announcement about academic program mergers and closures will be made next week. The programs likely affected are those with low graduation rates.
During the past three years, President Allen has established multiple study groups at UNI to review all academic and non-academic programs, as well as services and outsourcing opportunities. Many changes have already been made with program and service enhancements, closures, outsourcing and reduced staffing levels.
The strategic budget decisions announced today are in addition to significant changes already made by the university. Since 2000, UNI's annual general fund appropriation has been cut seven times and is now below 1996-97 funding levels. State funding to UNI has decreased a total of $23.6 million, or 24 percent, in the last four years. The university began fiscal 2012 with a $5 million budget shortfall. The fiscal 2012 appropriation is $4.3 million below the fiscal 2011 level. UNI will begin fiscal 2013 with an obligation of $4.1 million in negotiated salary and benefits increases.