Wendy Wintersteen, Iowa State University president Credit: Iowa State University photo

Iowa State University officials need to do a better job telling Iowa taxpayers, business leaders and especially Iowa legislators about value ISU and the state’s public universities give Iowa, ISU president Wendy Wintersteen said in an IowaWatch interview.

“As we work with the state Legislature, I think we need to be changing the conversation, to help them understand that the regent universities, Iowa State University, we are not a cost but we are truly an investment,” Wintersteen said in an interview that aired on the IowaWatch Connection radio program this past weekend. (May 18-20, 2018)

“When I think about the future of Iowa, the universities here really are going to help determine what that future is,” she said.

Her comments came after the Legislature adopted $35.5 million in budget cuts that slashed $11 million from the current ISU and University of Iowa budget. Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the bill calling for the cuts, $5.4 million of it absorbed by ISU.

Wintersteen inherited the budget situation when she became ISU’s president in October.

Asked why she feels ISU officials need to pitch the university’s value, she pointed internally at the university. “I think it’s because we didn’t pay attention to what we needed to be doing. I think communication is just something we need to be working on constantly. We have to be working on it in the good times, as well as the bad times,” she said.

She said ISU officials need to continually make their pitch. “We’ve got to be doing it all the time because people tend to forget,” she said.

Wintersteen said she was encouraged that the Legislature approved adding $8.3 million in spending at Iowa’s three regents-run universities on items in fiscal 2019 that the regents are to determine. Fiscal 2019 starts July 1. The regents budget in the current fiscal year is $5.8 billion. ISU’s share of that is $1.5 billion.

The state appropriation for general education at the three state universities was $483 million before this year’s cut; ISU’s original appropriation was $172.8 million. State appropriations cover 30 percent of general education costs overall at the universities; 26 percent at ISU alone.

You can hear her complete interview in the radio program’s podcast above.

RELATED: UNI President Says Being Spared Mid-Year Budget Cuts Reflects University’s Mission

IowaWatch’s Lyle Muller assisted with some reporting and writing this post.

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