CONTACT: STEVE PARROTT
101 Jessup Hall
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-0552; fax (319) 335-0558
Release: Sept. 26, 2001
Coleman warns budget cuts will accelerate privatization of public universities
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Iowa will "accelerate the trend toward increasing
privatization of public higher education" if proposed budget cuts for
its three state universities are approved, University of Iowa President Mary
Sue Coleman said Tuesday night in her annual convocation speech.
The state is facing serious revenue difficulties and the university needs
to be part of the overall solution, the UI president said. "But we are
worried, and we are alerting Iowans about the dangers of privatizing public
higher education and bringing about a radical change in our character,"
Coleman said she would attempt to heed the plea of U.S. President George
W. Bush to preserve as many jobs as possible as a means of supporting the
nation's economic base in the wake of terrorist attacks. Given the magnitude
of the budget reduction proposal for this fiscal year, all university employees
would be asked to make "a personal sacrifice so we can keep as many people
in jobs as possible," she said.
The UI president said she would protect student financial aid and the four-year
graduation contract, but she warned that "some services and programs
will surely be eliminated" if the state legislature approves a proposal
by Gov. Vilsack to reduce the UI's current fiscal year budget by $21.9 million.
Coleman concluded by calling for a non-partisan discussion of the state's
commitment to higher education.
"We are at a crossroads in education in Iowa," she said. "The
recent debates over higher education in Iowa have been reduced to questions
of the immediate moment and purely matters of budget. This approach does not
adequately address the present and future needs of our students and our state.
"I call upon all of us political leaders, citizens, members
of our Board of Regents, and our own students, faculty and staff to
articulate a new public philosophy a philosophy reflective of the essential
education functions that contribute to the public good, and then in
turn a philosophy of long term public support."
Unless Iowans become engaged in deciding the future of our education, "we
will stray from our purposes" and "our educational standing will
fall," Coleman said.
To be effective, those discussions must start immediately and they must
be non-partisan, the UI president said. "It is time for us to take the
cue from our national leaders. On Thursday evening last week, I watched the
President console and inspire the nation. I watched Senators Tom Daschle and
Trent Lott stand together and support the President and the nation. Surely
Iowans can stand together as we make decisions for our public education that
will affect our state and democracy for generations to come."