Friday, June 4, 2021

Board of Regents ready to return to full classes, delays tuition decision

(Radio Iowa) - The president of the board that oversees the three state universities says they are looking forward to resuming regular operations this fall. Mike Richards has already lifted the emergency order that went into place on March 18th of 2020 at the height of the pandemic.

"Campuses will return to offering in-person academic coursework to the same extent prior to the pandemic with no social distancing or masking requirements. Facult and staff will return to the campus beginning July 1st 2021," Richards says.

He says students at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa will not be required to be vaccinated to return.

"Though vaccination is not required to return to the campus -- all members of the campus community are strongly, strongly encouraged to receive a vaccination," according to Richards.

Richards says they will continue the effort to help students deal with COVID-19.

"Each of our institutions will make vaccinnes readily available for those who want to receive their shots. The vaccines are safe and effective, so please, everyone get vaccinated," Richards says. "In short, Iowa's public universities will embark on a welcome return to traditional campus activities this fall," Richard says.

And he added that will include full football stadiums.

The Board of Regents met in Iowa City, and Richards announced the late adjournment of the legislature would require them to delay the first reading of proposed tuition rates.

"We will call a special meeting in June to hold a first reading of rates. As is our practice, we will not vote on rates in the June meeting. But our expectation is that we will hold a vote to approve rates at a meeting in late July," he says.

The Iowa Legislature approved a budget that gave no increase in state funding for the universities. The Legislature originally proposed a tuition freeze, but backed off that.

"Our universities need an appropriate amount of resources to continue to provide high-quality education. But we also want to keep our universities accessible and affordable as possible for Iowans," Richards says. "There are many factors to consider -- and we will be thoughtful as we move forward in this process."

The Regents approved a salary increase for Iowa State University president Wendy Wintersteen to move her salary from $590,000 to $600,000. That puts her salary at the same level as new University of Iowa president Barbara Wilson, who begins July 15th. They also approved continuing a $100,000 yearly retention bonus each year through 2023 for Wintersteen if she stays at the school. They approved a $105,000 annual retention bonus through 2023 for Board of Regents Executive Director, Mark Brown, while holding his salary at the same level.

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