DES MOINES — The Iowa Board of Regents on Wednesday unanimously approved a $65.4 million budget cut for the state universities for next year, citing revenue reductions due to coronavirus and declining state financial support.
The $3.47 billion general operating budget also includes money for the Regents board office, Iowa Public Radio and the special schools for blind and deaf students.
The Regents approved tuition rates in June that included no increase from the previous year. That month, the Iowa Legislature cut the 2021 appropriation for the state universities by $8 million.
University presidents emphasized the historic nature of the challenge they face.
“Shutting down was one thing. Reopening is another,” University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld said during the online board meeting. “Every pocket of our university has been impacted by this virus and every pocket has been impacted differently than other departments.”
Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen said the effect of budget cuts could include the loss of 100 faculty positions, mostly through attrition and a new retirement incentive program. Iowa State saw revenues drop $114 million due to the pandemic, she said.
“We are working to minimize the effect of our financial challenges on students, faculty and staff. However, this is really an unprecedented situation,” Wintersteen said. “These are extraordinary times and we are forced to make difficult decisions to maintain the financial health of the university.”
Among other budget-reduction measures, the University of Iowa has reduced support for Hancher Auditorium as part of a three-year process to make the fine-arts center self-sustaining.
All three university presidents have taken salary reductions. The board approved a 10% cut to Wintersteen’s base salary of $590,000; University of Northern Iowa President Mark Nook’s base salary was cut by $42,110 and his deferred compensation package through June 2022 was cut in half, to $50,000. Harreld took a 50% cut in his base pay for a reduction of $270,416.
The board did not reduce deferred compensation packages for Wintersteen and Harreld.
The university budgets approved Wednesday were:
University of Iowa: $727.9 million, about $18.1 million less than a current year’s budget of $746 million.
Iowa State: $629.9 million, about $41 million less than the current year’s budget of $670.6 million.
University of Northern Iowa: $170.4 million, a cut of $6.6 million from the current year’s budget of $177 million.