Iowa Press; 1630; Higher Education
Graduate Press show 16:30 was recorded on May 19th the heirs May 21 28 50. Major funding for this program was provided by friends of Iowa Public Television. Most college students have gone home for the summer. Lawmakers too but many issues dealing with higher education remain. Tonight in Iowa Presa talk about tuition college athletics and quality education with Iowa State University President Gordon. This is Sunday May 21st edition of Iowa Prout's. Here
is Dean board. Good evening. Since taking over his Iowa State University president in 1986 Gordon Eaton has seen his students riot during VSA festival activities he's fired a football coach and started several studies of Iowa State's future roles including its far flung extension service. Eaton must also be dealing with those who administer the school from off campus such as the board of regents who oversee Iowa's three state universities and Iowa lawmakers who determine university budgets. Both groups are scrutinizing. Among other things whether there is too much duplication of courses at the three Iowa state universities but Nancy Crawford reports while the study has continued some fiscal matters have been determined last fall tuition at Iowa's three state universities increased 12 percent for in-state students. And since then there has been talk of further increases in students called for a tuition freeze in some Iowa lawmakers this past session tried to place a limit on how much tuition could be increased. But that measure failed.
Lawmakers did however move to establish additional student aid programs increase the dollar amount for tuition grants for needy students to attend private colleges and universities and ratified the final stage of a three year plan to boost faculty salaries at the region's institutions. State appropriations are one way to build a budget. And many schools say that's not enough and they also rely on private contributions. However recent statistics show that contributions to colleges and universities nationwide dipped for the first time in 13 years and at Iowa State University Dean's contributions are said to be down by over $3 billion. So money survival and quality education. Some of the subjects we'll cover with our guest tonight Gordon Eaton the president of Iowa State University president it will be questioned by Dave yeps of the Moines Register and Mike Glover of the Associated Press. Presently you've just had a long range study at Iowa State University and you decided not to implement many of the changes recommended in there. Why shouldn't Iowans conclude that all this talk about
change is just talk and all these studies are just a way to get the pressure off. Well that's a good question and my answer that I think you really have to look at what we've decided to do. The documents that came out this week ran 213 pages it recommended 131 specific actions that were going to take what we're going to do some of the things that are recommended by the committee we are going to do many others under sweeping reorganization three colleges that's proposed. One is engineering one is family consumer sciences one is education sweeping reorganization of another has been postponed veterinary medicine until we see what nationally it is going on. All of veterinary medicine is being examined. Present time. The last thing that we are doing for the moment is simply postponed into the future as the vet medicine reorganization is to look at all of the life sciences pure and applied at the institute.
So we're not finished yet at this point but nevertheless you did back away from some of the recommendations that were made by your long range strategic planning committee in politics Dr. Eaton. When politicians study things it's often a stall. You've got your study. University of Iowa has got one you and I've got one. The legislature's got one in the Pete Marwijk study is is going that's five of them is the education establishment in the state really stalling to avoid having to make fundamental changes in higher education in this state. Right. Well let me speak only for my own information because I don't really know what's going on with the other two in that regard. But certainly it's not a matter of a stall. I think we're moving ahead with now and what we've announced this week coupled with what's to come in the next six months is actually a very radical change in the organization of the institution. If you go back to all of the recommendations that were made I need to put that in context for you when I see that this committee two years ago and this was before I had any knowledge that the regents in the governor and the legislature were also going to undertake so I asked them to draw up a
roadmap for a variety of routes that we might take to get to a smaller more sharply focused university I ask them literally to think unthinkable thoughts and to speak unspeakable words and they didn't disappoint me in any way at all. They proposed massive comprehensive changes throughout the whole institution. And I think when they did that it was their belief and certainly with mine as I received this that obviously we weren't going to do every single thing that I was going to pick and choose among the things they proposed the ones that I thought would best suit the institution to get where we want to do. But as a matter of ability involved here that perception is very heavily involved in politics and university funding and all that. I think there's a perception setting in that you've done a study and now you're backing away from it. How do you keep your credibility with legislating when we tell them we can do it. We can change. And then suddenly they see a study of not much happening. Well we are doing it and we are changing it. And I I guess I would argue that you need to look at what we're going to do what we've announced we're going to do what isn't it we're not doing anything we're we're doing quite a
bit. And is that do you sit a smaller more sharply focused University. That's the long range goal. But my broader question there is smaller and more sharply focused. But what will be Iowa states niche in the future. How do you see Iowa. Iowa State and you and I in this state serving its residents and the students who come here from around the nation around the world for that matter. But it seems to me that the role of Iowa Iowa State and you and I are big roles are becoming blurred. Well Dean I guess I'd argue is in the sense that what we were aiming at in this study was in fact to blur that and what has been proposed and what has been accepted and the provost and I are recommending be be done doesn't blur it. It's sharpens it. What do you see the role being. Well let's let's let's take some very broad fundamental areas one of the one of the sweeping changes that's proposed in what we've accepted as a recommendation is the merging of three different programs all related to food and food processing and food technology.
That's a very specific role that Iowa state that's quite different from any of the roles that either of the other two institutions were reorganizing the College of Engineering which has been one of our really pillars of strength at this institution since its beginning and we're trying to tighten and sharpen it up to make it more effective and at the same time more efficient. That sets us apart as well. The one area where the public may perceive that there is some overlap is within a core of course is that constitutes the liberal education part of any university students education and you've got to maintain that you're not running a university. Most of the changes that we're proposing and much of the reorganization has a major impact at the graduate level at the undergraduate level it has somewhat less impact on the other hand. We're eliminating departments were merging other departments we're shutting down programs that have small enrollments and all of this is moving us in a direction of higher both effectiveness and efficiency. I
would I would argue I think we have an easier case really to identify our distinctiveness among the three institutions than the other to do. That just happens to go with the territory of a land grant university. As you reorganize your institution what steps are you taking and how long will it take to make Iowa state number one. AG research again. It's going to take a sustained period of I would imagine five years altogether and I am very pleased with what our elected officials have done for us. Both the governor and the legislature and now recognizing the need to attach a priority to funding in agriculture last year and this and over the next three or four years we're anticipating increased funding to get us back up to where we used to be. As you know where we're the number two ag state in the country after California we shouldn't be lagging behind. It's the 75th anniversary of the extension service. But do we need that anymore. Well agriculture has changed a lot and we hear them on the air telling yuppies how to mow their lawns. Why do we really need an extension service.
I'm happy to address that because President Reagan's administration kept asking that same question. Their feeling was it was an idea whose time had come and it was effective and then had passed but a whole lot of new problems are facing us. One of the suggestions they made was that a lot of the technical advice that farmers got is now available to them from commercial sources from major chemical companies fertilizers and so forth. But at the same time we're facing this problem of severely polluting our soils and our groundwater. And obviously those people are not going to deal with that problem and advise farmers on alternative methods of agriculture. So just in the area of agriculture alone it seems to me you want a third disinterested party that doesn't have a commercial gain behind the. But if you if you buy into the notion that there needs to be an extension service state this question goes to work fundamental point if you need an extension service widening station service that teaches yuppies in Des Moines how to more their yard or how to do their garden a little better how to get better tomatoes out of the garden.
Hasn't that role expanded into sort of a public relations constituent service farm with I would guess that the answer to that question is yes although perhaps not by design. Keep in mind that that is that the extension office in each county has an advisory board that brings to them what the people who are paying taxes to support the extension service want from the extension but never got it. Let me just take the farm crisis which we now watch essentially have behind us. I hope the role for the extension service changed very sharply in that period. And it moved into an area of sociology and away from technical agriculture it really felt that it needed to help farm families cope in a psychological way in sociological ways. It needed to help the farmers be better businessmen many of them weren't keeping adequate records that would help them make intelligent decisions. These kinds of needs aren't going to get there. When you hear of what they're saying though is that the extension service is perceived as an agricultural assistance extension service. What is changed. Iowa has fewer farm far fewer farm families now
and the extension service goes on the extension service right now and has a very strong emphasis on helping small communities with economic development. And these are non agriculturally related. In other words the organization evolves as the needs change for the populace and it's not just it's not to keep it alive or to stay afloat. It's to serve Islands that's a service arm of the university and as is the people it serves have different kinds of needs. We try to respond by changing. Isn't that a bit like the March of Dimes. I mean once polio was conquered they went in and got into other things. And now that you have fewer farmers and they're served by tons of information out there the extension service now is all of a sudden an economic development. There are tons of economic development initiatives already underway by the state. Go back to the fundamental question is Why do you have an extension service. Is it just there for political purpose. No it's the outreach program for the state universities. Why is it the first thing that Iowa State says will have to be cut any time a legislator offers to cut the budget of Iowa State University Extension Service.
Yeah you did that one when we talked about and in fact the committee that I established to look at this. And incidentally I ask you to look at many of the same questions that you have raised. I specifically asked you and I'll come back to your question in just a minute. But I specifically asked was it drifting too far away from agriculture. Because I had an image I think that was very much like yours that it existed primarily to serve only agriculture. There were a large number of people from different walks of life on this committee and their recommendation was no extension should be expanded now to meet new and different kinds of needs. It's partly funded from the state partly by the federal government as the federal government cut funding we cut the size of the extension service. Then as the state looked as if it wasn't going to be able to continue to support it obviously we had to talk about pulling in our horns. Some of the most controversial recommendation that came out of the committee was whether or not to shut down some of the county offices. We've got 100 county offices two in one county and one in each of the other
other 98. And while there are some very persuasive rational arguments for removing that presence the people in those counties when I went down to the legislature and held a hearing you may have been there mostly the people in attendance were legislators from those counties that felt more than most threatened by the loss of any contact with the institution and the advice we could provide so the people out there want this president even if we could switch gears just a little bit. Athletics has been somewhat and especially at the university level. President Rawlings has been out front recommending freshman eligibility death and things like that. To what degree do you have a responsibility to be out front and to lead public opinion on this issue we haven't seen. Let me. I think I have an equal responsibility but we have somewhat different situations. And let me just give you a little background. The issue of freshmen eligibility has been around for a long time. It was a subject of a protracted debate in San Francisco in January at the NCAA ballet meeting
so that when President Rawlings brought it up this was not a brand new issue. It was hotly contested in discussions out there. But let me let me paint paint a picture of that may or may not be a contrast because the University of Iowa two weeks ago we had a banquet on on campus one evening to honor those varsity athletes that had be averages or better 3.0 GPA or better. There were 135 athletes that we honor that evening. 43 of them had above a 3.5 every year but of the 135 or seven. There were 50 freshmen who had competed in Varsity athletics this year that were doing very well academically. And I think we have to be careful that we don't draw sweeping generalizations from different anecdotal information is a difference between Iowa State and Iowa. You've got athletes with good great points and they don't know they've got at least a good grade point too I just don't know what the proportion is I happen to know that the proportion of ours that have that are doing very well academically is high. Now I don't know what the
proportion over there would be but I would point out that the first thing we did in wants to questions of this kind after his announcement was look at the full performance of our athletes and the performance was exactly by coincidence to the hundredth of a grade point the same as the rest of us do about it. Whether you buy into that notion of fresh relatability or not he's taking the lead on a position and trying to sway public opinion. If you agree or don't agree do you have a responsibility to be as out front and as public. Sure. I think every university president has a responsibility to be out in front on this particular issue because the national perception is one that there are serious problems but I think it varies a great deal from university to university and to you know to throw out the baby and the bathwater when when things on many campuses aren't going badly would be inappropriate. Do I have athletics and academics and proper perspective. A lot of people think that particularly at University of Iowa fans I know you wouldn't want to criticize the University of
Iowa. Don't have it in perspective that it's become a religion. It's sort of like Nebraska. So do you think that Iowans in general have a proper perspective on the role of athletics viz a viz the role of academics at our State University. I think that first of all it varies a great deal. Our fans I would argue and I'm sure I'll hear from them if I've heard is misrepresenting their view. I not I bet every year on going to a bowl I think Iowa State University athletic fans are content if we win more games in a season than we lose occasionally. They'd like to go to will bowl perhaps not a major bowl but a minor bowl they'll keep coming to the games with nothing more than that to attract them. I do think it's different in the universe with that comment. Iowa state traditionally has not been very successful in athletics generally in the visible programs football especially. How much does Iowa State need athletics. Is it becoming in major colleges and universities now essential
that you have a winning athletic program in order to do some other things. So we mentioned contributions being down. You know first of all winning football and winning basketball has been demonstrated to affect alumni giving. When you have a winning team giving up and when you don't have consistently and when each team gets a little less. The other thing that's a little more insidious I think is television revenues that come from being successful enough to have many games of broadcast. And that's what's driven institutions like the University of Oklahoma over the years. We are not at Iowa State University I would argue that desperate for that kind of funding and we would like to think that we can coax alumni giving up by by other means. One I'm optimistic that we can like to move to a different topic a tuition here. Tuitions have gone up dramatically. The state universities in the last eight years. And one of the reasons it's been used to justify that is you need to pay faculty more. And yet we
see we're told anyway that you're paying for boiler's at Iowa State with some of the money that came from tuition's. I guess my question is do we get it wrong to begin with some of this money being channeled off to other things besides paying faculty more. No I don't think you. You don't have the facts wrong. I think perhaps you have the interpretation wrong. Let me talk about that for a minute. Last year we gave the largest factory salary increase of the three institutions that average ten point eight percent. The other two institutions in the system came in at 10 percent. At the same time we had losses in tuition revenues as a result of a decline in enrollment. And because when I came here I was instructed by the board by the governor and by the legislature to solve a lot of our own problems through the process of internal reallocation. Money was moved around. You could argue that some of the money that the legislature provided to us to pay for faculty salaries could have been used to raise the faculty
salaries even higher than that. Ten point eight percent but facing the tuition revenue losses and having been given a very clear mandate to manage through the process of reallocation some of those monies I think are viewed by the legislature as monies that went to do something in addition to what we did. We did what they asked we got we got a third year of double digit an increase in factory salary. How much more is tuition going to have to go up in the future. I think tuition should now be coupled to inflation. You mentioned it had gone up dramatically in the 80s it went down equally dramatically in the 70s and we spent all of the 80s making up for the losses by 1980. Tuition had dropped to 62 percent of the level in real dollars that it had been in 1970. Next fall it will be right back up where it was in 1970. Personally if I could get you to touch on a topic you mentioned earlier you talked about some of the changes the legislature and the governor are wanting to make in Iowa State University. You've been there a few years now and you've had a chance to make some of those changes if you could sort of write your own. You're asking me or I would
state what would you like people to say. Gordon Eaton accomplished. Well let me try this. I came in at a very low point in in the state's economy and at this point in the history of the university it had followed a period of relative abundance in which many wonderful things have had been done it had been turned into a comprehensive university from having been much more of a traditional small land grant institution. So I knew as I came in that I wasn't going to get to repeat what my predecessors had been able to do. I found that the institution was adrift. They had been buffeted so badly by five budget reversions. Well enrollment continued to grow and therefore continued to siphon off resources from the students who were already there. That clearly something had to be done. I think what I will have accomplished by the time I leave the
institution is to get it back moving again to get it invigorated. And admittedly we use something akin to the electric shock that I use to start a heart that's done and created a lot of anxiety on campus. But I think we're getting back on track. I sense a much better mood on campus and the desire to get on with it. But the other thing that I've been doing is bringing in new leadership from all around the country. We had tended to be I think top heavy with our own graduates in positions of administrative responsibility. So I think I've I've diversified the outlook and the approach to problems. So even though your critics call you a hatchet man you've had to make those changes in order to refocus attention to the institution. How long do we give you to do that. I mean a lot of people your critics say that you're taking too long to get this done that you've been there a long time you've managed to make everybody mad at you. That's OK. College presidents do that because it goes with the territory. But how long do we give you to refocus the mission. I mean you said here tonight you need five more years to get Iowa State back in the egg research game.
Well that's because it's going to take the legislature that long to provide us with the money. They're upping our base each year and it's going to be five years before they've been able to provide enough money to get the base. Now I don't have any more role in that. I mean I've told them that's what we need to do. I would say if you give me to the end of this committee you're David I'd be willing to stand up and be counted. What about these rumors that you're going to leave. They keep floating around all the time and any plans now on the horizon are absolutely no plans to leave. Every president and many provosts and this happened when I was provost that I am or nominated by people when there are vacancies. And your name gets on a list and then many states have laws where the list has to be published. So this is them looking at you as opposed to you looking at. I have not applied for a job at any other institution since I've been here. So I was going to cope with Iowa's declining pool of available high school seniors over the next few years and maybe many years but at least we can project to the next starting next year in five years. We have up to 3000 fewer high
school seniors in Iowa all available to come to the state universities. That's going to be a smaller school. It is a bridge that is for now that's being offset but not completely by small increases in the proportions of high school graduates that go on to college. It's being offset also but again not in proportion by increasing numbers of nontraditional students those over the age of 25. Your question is a very good question and I don't have a ready made answer but it is the challenge for all three Regent University presidents here in Iowa. The projection of the decline of college bound high school seniors through the year 2004 is that they'll be down by 30 percent in Iowa in Iowa. So. So either we have one of two things it seems to me we can do we can design a structure that accommodates getting smaller through time just as we've had stra structures that have accommodated growth in the previous several decades really since the end of World War II. Or we can look to those states where the projected numbers of high school seniors are going up
in the sunbelt states for example and in California and and recruit out-of-state for students. Does that mean that to some tuition concessions for other state students. No I don't think so although I think we're at the limit of the market right now an out-of-state student pays for the full cost of their education and in-state student pays for one third of the cost of their education. But if we push it much higher for out-of-state the competition will take those students away from as you mentioned. We're back to something like astore about credibility. One of the reasons that these all these studies are being done we're told in a way is to improve your credibility with islands and it's taxpayers who have given you a lot of money over the years I've seen figures that over the last eight years it's been about a 30 2.9 percent increase. Now a lot of state employees haven't gotten that kind of raise a lot of farmers in Iowa haven't gotten that kind of raise in their income. Do you think that by the end of the year after all these studies and so forth and you've reached you know you you mentioned that as a target that you'll be able to go to the Iowa taxpayer and justify the additional
spending that you think is going to be needed in the future. I do. And if in fact we can't demonstrate that to their satisfaction then we won't get that funding. How much more to make that a first class institution. I think first of all we need now to tend to faculty salaries on a regular basis. We need to keep them up because the pool of Americans who have gone out of Ph.D.s is getting smaller just as large numbers of faculty are getting ready to retire. So we we've got to have enough money to pay competitive salaries to attract new young faculty here. I think we need we need if we're really going to play a role in economic development and I think that's a challenge we're going to need the kind of money that buys equipment and creates laboratories that will allow us to do that. I would point out to you something that most of you may remember and that is in the last four years we brought 70 million new federal dollars to the state canvass teams in the state of Iowa to help us so we're helping the state that way ourselves. There's a lot of emphasis on reducing chemicals in agriculture right now. And yet Iowa State gets a lot of that research money from chemical companies to be able to wean yourself off the chemical company dollar.
Yes. Yeah. That that will not be a problem and part of it for example is the income we're now getting for the support of the we uphold sustainable agriculture. Senator I think and the other is the biotechnology money because just through those two approaches that will win the Iowa farmer off of chemicals. I noticed at Commencement yesterday military uniforms in the audience in addition to the caps and gowns and that was a tribute to your wish that was that was based on discussions with many groups of people those you know these are programs on the campus. These are students that receive right after commencement their commission they were given an option of either wearing the traditional cap and gown or appearing at yesterday's commencement ceremony in the uniform they're going to be on the campus the whole rest of the day. Thank you President and for being our guest tonight and I will press well that not only concludes this week's program but ends I will press for the season we thank you for watching. During the past season for our panelists tonight Dave Gibson and Mike Glover. And for all the staff who've worked in Iowa during the past season I'm done for thanking you and inviting you to stay tuned for Oregon have agreed with take
one. I have a good summer. Good night. Major funding for Iowa press was provided by friends of Iowa Public Television
- Iowa Press
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- "Iowa Press is a news talk show, featuring an in-depth news report on one topic each episode, followed by a conversation between experts on the issue."
- Guest: Gordon Eaton, President, Iowa State University. Rec. Engr. RWT, VCR9, BCA-30.
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- MLA: “Iowa Press; 1630; Higher Education.” 1989-05-19. Iowa Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 1, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-37-29p2nnd1>.
- APA: Iowa Press; 1630; Higher Education. Boston, MA: Iowa Public Television, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-37-29p2nnd1