Iowa, Iowa State liberal arts colleges face budget woes, cuts

cigaretteman

HR King
May 29, 2001
71,461
51,047
113
Facing unsettling headwinds like sliding enrollment, surging costs and shrinking demand for “general education” courses, the liberal arts colleges at the University of Iowa and Iowa State are facing deficits in the millions of dollars.


At the UI, the deficit was $6.2 million last year. At ISU, the deficit is $11.4 million, with expectations the shortfall will swell to $15 million in three years.


In response, Iowa State’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences — the second largest on campus — recently unveiled a multiyear initiative aimed at “right-sizing” its budget for today’s enrollment, expenses and employment realities — including that a growing number of freshmen are entering college having already completed many “gen ed” requirements.


Advertisment

“Colleges of arts and sciences at universities nationwide have experienced significant financial headwinds for several years,” according to a “reimagining liberal arts and sciences” summary that college leaders sent to faculty and staff last month.


“While (ISU’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences) has been able to sustain its current breadth of programs for longer than many others, these financial challenges have now reached a tipping point where they must be structurally addressed to ensure the long-term success of the college.”


Daily News​


Newsletter Signup
checkmark-yellow.png
Delivered to your inbox every day







Enrollment in the college has dropped from 7,090 in 2017 to 6,173 in fall 2021.


ISU plan​


The Iowa State plan calls for cuts across the college’s 19 departments — giving them until the 2025 budget year to come up with a $8.6 million in reductions and outstanding debt.


The college will cut an additional $6.4 million from its central programs and services, while also aggressively pursuing “growth opportunities with the goal of generating new revenue.”


As a “financial backstop,” the Iowa State provost office will cover any “fiscal-year-end spending authority deficit” up to $4 million annually for three budget years, for a total commitment of up to $12 million.


College leaders are working with department chairs to accomplish the mandated budget reductions — ranging from a low of $68,421 for the computer science department to a high of $955,452 for the history department.


The cuts were determined by metrics and trends like the number of undergraduate majors, student credit hours taught and research productivity.


Computer science, for example, has seen its enrollment soar from 280 in 2016 to 722 in fall 2021. The history department’s enrollment has fallen from 237 in fall 2016 to 201 in fall 2021.


Departmental cost-cutting measures could include streamlining course offerings; phasing out low-enrollment programs; and merging departments or programs.


UI woes​


The UI’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences — the largest college on campus — acknowledged “unprecedented challenges and transitions” in an April 2021 self-review.


The report stated the college — home to 37 departments and programs and nearly 70 majors — has encountered “constant turnover in senior leadership, budget model changes, fiscal uncertainties, concerns about diversity, equity, and inclusion, and disruptions in transparent communication with regard to college vision and direction” since the last review in 2013.


The college is “in need of stability and a clear path forward.”


It “is in receivership and is currently addressing a $6.2 million deficit that it has arranged to pay back over a three-year period,” the study stated.


And the hurdles were magnified by the pandemic, necessitating a cut of $15.9 million for the 2021 budget year.


Mirroring campuswide enrollment trends, the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences reported 14,490 students this fall, down from 15,286 in fall 2020 and 17,432 in fall 2016.


“As is the case for other universities and colleges, UI enrollments are expected to decrease in coming years due to broad demographic changes,” the study stated.


The new budget model the university debuted in 2018 — in which colleges are funded based on the net tuition assessed to majors — didn’t help, according to the self-study.


The study noted the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences generates approximately 50 percent of the UI’s gross tuition revenue and “continues to subsidize other colleges despite the fact that it struggles to meet basic operational costs, including providing faculty and staff with salary increases.”


Although many students who start in the UI liberal arts college eventually matriculate to colleges housing their majors — like business — the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences “receives no credit” despite its “substantial” contribution to the students’ degree through general education courses.


Trends alter future​


At Iowa State, the liberal arts college study took note of the number of students arriving on campus having earned “a significant number of (general education) college credits in high school.”


The report recommended the college identify financially viable general education courses.


It also stated innovation and growth are an essential part of the liberal arts college’s reimagining plan, “representing the bridge from current budget challenges to a renewed emphasis on faculty hiring, research initiatives and enhanced support and services.”


Similarly, the UI self-study determined the recent hit to its operating budget “is not sustainable” and that college leadership “must make difficult decisions regarding how to reallocate resources,” fund strategic priorities and restructure the curriculum.


Possible actions, the study said, include consolidating programs and departments consolidation, created new division structures and eliminating programs.


‘We have to change’​


In a video message disseminated Wednesday across the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dean Sara Sanders said that as the world and student needs change, “we have to change as well.”


“We won’t be breaking up the college, and we won’t be compromising our commitment to a broad-based education in the liberal arts and sciences,” she said, adding, “We have a choice about how we can engage in this process.


“It can be a time of concern and struggle. Or it can be a time of excitement, creativity and reimagining.”

 

OutbackBowl2017

HR Heisman
Dec 4, 2016
8,768
12,969
113
Finance, purchasing, AR, AP, HR, marketing, and IT for all three universities and junior colleges should all be consolidated.
I work with all three universities as a supplier. Too much politics to do this and the Board of Regents has their hands in all the pots too. It’s quite sad how things operate based off of who has contracts at higher prices and are allowed to charge higher prices because they have the contractual rights to do so.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tfxchawk

swagsurfer02

HR King
Gold Member
Dec 8, 2010
59,625
24,947
113
Your response Outback is exactly what I am talking about…exphuquinactly! Well done.
You are the frog sitting in the pot is slowly boiling water asking, “What’s for dinner?”
You’ll never knew what hit you until it is too late.

You ever think that some of this majors don’t prepare kids with actual skills for the real world?
 

MepoDawg#

HR Legend
Gold Member
Oct 29, 2012
15,725
17,078
113
Good. Liberal Arts degrees should go away as should liberal arts requirements for all students. Waste of time and money.
 
  • Like
Reactions: NCHawk5

OutbackBowl2017

HR Heisman
Dec 4, 2016
8,768
12,969
113
Your response Outback is exactly what I am talking about…exphuquinactly! Well done.
You are the frog sitting in the pot is slowly boiling water asking, “What’s for dinner?”
You’ll never knew what hit you until it is too late.
Your response is always to blame this side or that side. The world is changing and how kids go to school has changed due to the pandemic. Don’t be so jaded to point your old ass finger at people and say they are to blame. I’m waiting for the “when I was younger” or “kids today aren’t as smart as when we were kids!” Kids are smarter and more aware of their surroundings than when you were once young.
 
Last edited:

GOHOX69

HR Legend
Sep 26, 2009
13,706
16,922
113
Universities need to start becoming more selective. Simply accepting hordes of in state students shouldn't be the mission of any university. Cut some of the chaf and drop some poorly enrolled majors and convert them into graduate options.
 

Tfxchawk

HR MVP
Jun 22, 2021
2,298
2,128
113
Universities need to start becoming more selective. Simply accepting hordes of in state students shouldn't be the mission of any university. Cut some of the chaf and drop some poorly enrolled majors and convert them into graduate options.
No
 

joelbc1

HR King
Gold Member
Sep 5, 2007
72,688
37,704
113
you can’t always get what you want!
You ever think that some of this majors don’t prepare kids with actual skills for the real world?
Which skills? The critical thinking skills? The ability to read, comprehend and figure out something all by yourself? The ability to analyze a job and set up a program to accomplish it without too much oversight? The ability to appreciate life and the history of mankind?
Does it teach you to read a balance sheet? Nope. But reading a balance sheet doesn’t teach you how to talk to someone, either.
A liberal arts education gives one the ability to appreciate life and all its aspects...a liberal arts education gives life depth and balance. A liberal arts degree might be the most important degree available to guarantee the future of mankind.
 

swagsurfer02

HR King
Gold Member
Dec 8, 2010
59,625
24,947
113
Which skills? The critical thinking skills? The ability to read, comprehend and figure out something all by yourself? The ability to analyze a job and set up a program to accomplish it without too much oversight? The ability to appreciate life and the history of mankind?
Does it teach you to read a balance sheet? Nope. But reading a balance sheet doesn’t teach you how to talk to someone, either.
A liberal arts education gives one the ability to appreciate life and all its aspects...a liberal arts education gives life depth and balance. A liberal arts degree might be the most important degree available to guarantee the future of mankind.

Oh boy
 
  • Haha
Reactions: Hawki97

hawkeyetraveler

HR All-American
Gold Member
Aug 10, 2010
3,039
9,749
113
Lake rimmed cities of the midwestern states
You ever think that some of this majors don’t prepare kids with actual skills for the real world?
CEO of a well known company AND Liberal Arts undergrad checking in.

I learned how to critically reason, how to make a persuasive argument both verbally and in written form, how to form a hypothesis and conduct research. Now on a stand alone basis did it help me get my first job - no. Then again I was always planning on grad school (in my case an MBA in the late 90’s).

I use my liberal arts education constantly…and I mean constantly. My ability to reason and creatively problem solve are some of the most important skills I have and are directly influential in my career. Having said that, if you are going into liberal arts without a plan for what comes next, or if you don’t work hard, you may need to brace yourself for some time as a barista 😜
 

onlyTheObvious

HR Heisman
Jan 3, 2021
6,447
7,523
113
Some people don’t have the ability to think critically. Their major doesn’t seem to matter.

college doesn’t have a course to flush these people out. I think smart phones and the web has increased this pool of sub standard workers.

the workforce will Have to flush them out.
 

swagsurfer02

HR King
Gold Member
Dec 8, 2010
59,625
24,947
113
CEO of a well known company AND Liberal Arts undergrad checking in.

I learned how to critically reason, how to make a persuasive argument both verbally and in written form, how to form a hypothesis and conduct research. Now on a stand alone basis did it help me get my first job - no. Then again I was always planning on grad school (in my case an MBA in the late 90’s).

I use my liberal arts education constantly…and I mean constantly. My ability to reason and creatively problem solve are some of the most important skills I have and are directly influential in my career. Having said that, if you are going into liberal arts without a plan for what comes next, or if you don’t work hard, you may need to brace yourself for some time as a barista 😜

So going off of what you said above, just the degree alone may not have gotten you to where you are today, however it helped you develop problem solving skills.

Would you say that the MBA had more to do with you reaching your current title (unless of course if you own the business)?
 

MepoDawg#

HR Legend
Gold Member
Oct 29, 2012
15,725
17,078
113
CEO of a well known company AND Liberal Arts undergrad checking in.

I learned how to critically reason, how to make a persuasive argument both verbally and in written form, how to form a hypothesis and conduct research. Now on a stand alone basis did it help me get my first job - no. Then again I was always planning on grad school (in my case an MBA in the late 90’s).

I use my liberal arts education constantly…and I mean constantly. My ability to reason and creatively problem solve are some of the most important skills I have and are directly influential in my career. Having said that, if you are going into liberal arts without a plan for what comes next, or if you don’t work hard, you may need to brace yourself for some time as a barista 😜
You can still get that without having a liberal arts degree or even without having the liberal arts core if you’re majoring in something else. Some of the classes are good, but many are not. Some are just fillers and make money for the college.
 
  • Like
Reactions: DavidHawk324

hawkeyetraveler

HR All-American
Gold Member
Aug 10, 2010
3,039
9,749
113
Lake rimmed cities of the midwestern states
So going off of what you said above, just the degree alone may not have gotten you to where you are today, however it helped you develop problem solving skills.

Would you say that the MBA had more to do with you reaching your current title (unless of course if you own the business)?
I honestly think it is the combo. I would not be where I am without the MBA. But then again I would not be here without the liberal arts background as well. As a very concrete example, with a heavy economics/international relations emphasis I studied abroad as an undergrad for a semester which absolutely helped me get into international biz assignments early in my career.

And no I do not own the company.
 
  • Like
Reactions: nelly02

Herky T Hawk

HR Heisman
Feb 5, 2003
6,178
4,757
113
Liberal Arts colleges need to consider student limits for some majors. The ones that aren’t career oriented when you have a BA. Education, Journalism, computer science, etc. are fine. But things like art, english, anthropology, etc need to have limits and stricter requirements to get admitted to those programs. Those are majors that either require an advanced degree to do anything with, or have very few career opportunities in general. They need to be limited down to the people that have a future in that field.

The schools with career prospects like Nursing, Engineering, Business, etc. aren’t having these same problems. The MBA program has seen massive enrollment gains at Iowa since offering the online option back in 2019.

I saw a good joke recently. “ I have a friend that got his BA in Egyptology but couldn’t get a job. So he went back to school to get an MA in Egyptology and still couldn’t get a job. So he went back to get a PhD in Egyptology so that he could teach other people about Egyptology. It was then that I realized that college is a pyramid scheme.”

I know 5 people that majored in anthropology at a couple different colleges and got their BA. None of them pursued graduate school and none of them work in anthropology. One of them who worked in the anthropology lap in the basement if MacBride hall as an undergrad went to get her MA in education to become a social studies teacher which is probably the closest to anthropology of any of those people.

I could say the same about my three friends that majored in art.
 

joelbc1

HR King
Gold Member
Sep 5, 2007
72,688
37,704
113
you can’t always get what you want!
You can still get that without having a liberal arts degree or even without having the liberal arts core if you’re majoring in something else. Some of the classes are good, but many are not. Some are just fillers and make money for the college.
So how does a student in engineering or getting a medical degree have time to take a sampling of “liberal arts” courses unless they pursue such a degree as an undergrad? How much “ free time” does a business degree allow for a liberal arts course after the “major” is chosen.
 

hawkeyetraveler

HR All-American
Gold Member
Aug 10, 2010
3,039
9,749
113
Lake rimmed cities of the midwestern states
You can still get that without having a liberal arts degree or even without having the liberal arts core if you’re majoring in something else. Some of the classes are good, but many are not. Some are just fillers and make money for the college.
No doubt. There are a host of silly LA classes. On the flip side getting one semester of rhetoric is not giving you the same expansive worldview or critical reasoning skills you get with deeper emphasis. I am not arguing against STEM majors in any way - the combo of a liberal arts background with heavy STEM concentration is very powerful.

I am simply saying those that undermine a liberal arts background simply because it is called “liberal arts” are missing out on some of the exceptional benefits possible with those majors.
 

swagsurfer02

HR King
Gold Member
Dec 8, 2010
59,625
24,947
113
I honestly think it is the combo. I would not be where I am without the MBA. But then again I would not be here without the liberal arts background as well. As a very concrete example, with a heavy economics/international relations emphasis I studied abroad as an undergrad for a semester which absolutely helped me get into international biz assignments early in my career.

And no I do not own the company.

The bold part makes sense to me. It was your focus and helped out with what you’re doing. I used to worry about my step daughter as she’s a graphic design major, but I think she can find a spot with a company and be fine. I am pushing my daughter to explore a STEM major.
 
  • Like
Reactions: hawkeyetraveler

joelbc1

HR King
Gold Member
Sep 5, 2007
72,688
37,704
113
you can’t always get what you want!
The bold part makes sense to me. It was your focus and helped out with what you’re doing. I used to worry about my step daughter as she’s a graphic design major, but I think she can find a spot with a company and be fine. I am pushing my daughter to explore a STEM major.
And just what do you think an Economics is? Is not “economics” a science of the liberal arts? I have a lot of compadres who graduated with degrees in economics from 4years liberal arts colleges. My daughter would be one of them.
 

swagsurfer02

HR King
Gold Member
Dec 8, 2010
59,625
24,947
113
And just what do you think an Economics is? Is not “economics” a science of the liberal arts? I have a lot of compadres who graduated with degrees in economics from 4years liberal arts colleges. My daughter would be one of them.

You weren’t talking about economics up above, be honest.
 

Hawki97

HR Heisman
Gold Member
Dec 16, 2001
8,536
11,943
113
Iowa City, IA
It’s fine to get a liberal arts degree but you sure as shit better have a plan, the drive, and the work ethic to make something of yourself after because the degree itself ain’t going to open any doors for you. College graduates are a dime a dozen anymore. It’s not the differentiator it once was.

One can argue these statements could apply to any degree. But if I’m more on the unmotivated side of things, I’d rather have a degree in software engineering vs. philosophy when hitting the job market.
 
  • Like
Reactions: hawkeyetraveler

joelbc1

HR King
Gold Member
Sep 5, 2007
72,688
37,704
113
you can’t always get what you want!
It’s fine to get a liberal arts degree but you sure as shit better have a plan, the drive, and the work ethic to make something of yourself after because the degree itself ain’t going to open any doors for you. College graduates are a dime a dozen anymore. It’s not the differentiator it once was.

One can argue these statements could apply to any degree. But if I’m more on the unmotivated side of things, I’d rather have a degree in software engineering vs. philosophy when hitting the job market.
I’d rather have a father who was chairman of the board.
I think what you say is 100% but “motivation” has always been a key ingredient to job success. It is not limited to the liberal arts.
 

HawkRCID

HR All-American
Nov 7, 2018
4,244
8,094
113
Liberal Arts colleges need to consider student limits for some majors. The ones that aren’t career oriented when you have a BA. Education, Journalism, computer science, etc. are fine. But things like art, english, anthropology, etc need to have limits and stricter requirements to get admitted to those programs. Those are majors that either require an advanced degree to do anything with, or have very few career opportunities in general. They need to be limited down to the people that have a future in that field.

The schools with career prospects like Nursing, Engineering, Business, etc. aren’t having these same problems. The MBA program has seen massive enrollment gains at Iowa since offering the online option back in 2019.

I saw a good joke recently. “ I have a friend that got his BA in Egyptology but couldn’t get a job. So he went back to school to get an MA in Egyptology and still couldn’t get a job. So he went back to get a PhD in Egyptology so that he could teach other people about Egyptology. It was then that I realized that college is a pyramid scheme.”

I know 5 people that majored in anthropology at a couple different colleges and got their BA. None of them pursued graduate school and none of them work in anthropology. One of them who worked in the anthropology lap in the basement if MacBride hall as an undergrad went to get her MA in education to become a social studies teacher which is probably the closest to anthropology of any of those people.

I could say the same about my three friends that majored in art.
I actually like this idea….and have told kids we know who are “not sure what they’re going to study yet” or similar takes that maybe It wouldn’t hurt to pause and figure stuff out.

Going to college, studying a field that has 0/very few job prospects….is how we got into this student loan mess in the first place. It’s criminal to take 100k from kids over 4 years and give them an essentially worthless degree. I like your proposal of enrollment limits.
 

joelbc1

HR King
Gold Member
Sep 5, 2007
72,688
37,704
113
you can’t always get what you want!
I actually like this idea….and have told kids we know who are “not sure what they’re going to study yet” or similar takes that maybe It wouldn’t hurt to pause and figure stuff out.

Going to college, studying a field that has 0/very few job prospects….is how we got into this student loan mess in the first place. It’s criminal to take 100k from kids over 4 years and give them an essentially worthless degree. I like your proposal of enrollment limits.
Disagree about the student loan mess. I think the numbers/facts have shown “for profit” colleges are the culprit behind this mess...and fr the record it is a bipartisan mess.
Ironically, the fight against these “for profits” being included in the student federal loan program was fought by two LIBERAL congressmen...Tom Hardin, Iowa and Maxine Waters, Of California fought their inclusion long and hard....and eventually, lost their fight.,
 
  • Haha
Reactions: BrunoMars420

BrunoMars420

HR Legend
Feb 14, 2016
11,960
13,030
113
Disagree about the student loan mess. I think the numbers/facts have shown “for profit” colleges are the culprit behind this mess...and fr the record it is a bipartisan mess.
Ironically, the fight against these “for profits” being included in the student federal loan program was fought by two LIBERAL congressmen...Tom Hardin, Iowa and Maxine Waters, Of California fought their inclusion long and hard....and eventually, lost their fight.,
Let’s not act like the government giving away free loans to 18 year old for public universities isn’t the main culprit for this lol. You can take out enough loans to buy a house as a student without any credit history at all
 

BrunoMars420

HR Legend
Feb 14, 2016
11,960
13,030
113
Before the lefties in here jump on me for this I believe we should have a private/public partnership for certain fields of studies that are in need of job applicants, like nursing, to be free. I also believe we can do more through the government (fed/state/local) to make community college affordable to possibly free.
 

joelbc1

HR King
Gold Member
Sep 5, 2007
72,688
37,704
113
you can’t always get what you want!
Let’s not act like the government giving away free loans to 18 year old for public universities isn’t the main culprit for this lol. You can take out enough loans to buy a house as a student without any credit history at all
Federal money went to much more than state and private liberal arts colleges. And congressional studies have shown that “for profits” are the main culprit for basically what has become fraud. The lack of credentialing, the lack of post-degree support and placement assistance has been identified as a leading cause of student defaults and bankruptcies.
I am not denying bad choices by students. I am stating that the facts and figures are pointing in other directions. “For profit” schools are a leading offender. Deny it if you need to Bruno...lI would expect you to.
 

BrunoMars420

HR Legend
Feb 14, 2016
11,960
13,030
113
Federal money went to much more than state and private liberal arts colleges. And congressional studies have shown that “for profits” are the main culprit for basically what has become fraud. The lack of credentialing, the lack of post-degree support and placement assistance has been identified as a leading cause of student defaults and bankruptcies.
I am not denying bad choices by students. I am stating that the facts and figures are pointing in other directions. “For profit” schools are a leading offender. Deny it if you need to Bruno...lI would expect you to.
No I think for profit colleges are shit too Joel. It is definitely predatory lending just as federal loans to 18-22 year olds are as well. The whole system needs a massive rehaul
 

HawkRCID

HR All-American
Nov 7, 2018
4,244
8,094
113
All over the country money is way too cheap….people are allowed to buy cars they can’t afford, houses….need to tighten lending requirements in all markets.

Ya don’t need a Corvette on a Camry income
 
  • Like
Reactions: GOHOX69 and nelly02

joelbc1

HR King
Gold Member
Sep 5, 2007
72,688
37,704
113
you can’t always get what you want!
No I think for profit colleges are shit too Joel. It is definitely predatory lending just as federal loans to 18-22 year olds are as well. The whole system needs a massive rehaul
Is it “the system” or is it Americans and their ignorance of how finances work? Methinks it is the latter more than the former.
“The road to hell is paid with good intentions.” But Hardin and Waters were both 100% spot on in their opposition (based on the facts) to including “for profits” in their federal reimbursement program.
 

CLUB215

HR MVP
Apr 28, 2015
2,028
1,792
113
Iowa City
So how does a student in engineering or getting a medical degree have time to take a sampling of “liberal arts” courses unless they pursue such a degree as an undergrad? How much “ free time” does a business degree allow for a liberal arts course after the “major” is chosen.
Got a liberal arts degree 12 years ago then came back and got my engineering degree four years ago. The liberal arts degree has and will continue to set me apart in the engineering work place (I can talk to people 😮).
 
  • Like
Reactions: cigaretteman