Under the Golden Dome, Too – February 27

Upmeyer UTGD

It’s hard to believe the month of March is right around the corner. With the frigid temperatures we’ve been experiencing, I am looking forward to the first signs of a refreshing Iowa spring.

Earlier this year, the University of Iowa President Sally Mason announced her intent to retire at the end of the current school year. Since the announcement, questions have been raised about the terms of her employment contract signed in 2007 and her retirement package recently approved by the Iowa Board of Regents.

Upon her retirement, President Mason will become President Emeritus at the University of Iowa. As laid out in her 2007 employment contract, during her first year as President Emeritus, President Mason is expected to receive a salary of approximately $315,000 (60% of her current salary), an office, and secretarial support. However, she will have no teaching or service obligations at the university during this first “transitional” year. Additionally, at this time, it is uncertain what duties President Mason will have at the university in the years following this transition.

Approving such a large and extravagant retirement package with no track record at the university is irresponsible. Not requiring any level of service, while continuing to pay a public servant a six-figure salary, is wasteful. There are better uses of taxpayer dollars. This money should go directly toward the education of our students, instead it takes money away from them. In fact, this money could be used to pay the tuition and fees for nearly 40 Iowa resident students during the 2015-2016 school year.

Members of the Board of Regents have defended President Mason’s retirement package by saying it follows tradition, noting former University of Iowa presidents have been given the same option since 1940. With the retirement of President Mason, the university will have two former presidents serving in the capacity of President Emeritus- Sally Mason and Willard Boyd, who retired as president in 1991. Mr. Boyd remains a faculty member in the University’s College of Law.

Compared to Iowa’s two other public universities, the retirement options in President Mason’s employment agreement are significantly higher. Neither President Steven Leath of Iowa State University nor President William Ruud of the University of Northern Iowa were granted tenure when they were hired for their current positions.

In other news, next week will be the Legislature’s first “funnel” week, which is a deadline for legislators to pass bills out of their respective policy committees in either the House or Senate, in order to remain eligible for further consideration. Appropriations, Ways & Means, and Government Oversight bills are exempt from the funnel rules.

If you are planning to visit the Capitol in the near future, please feel free to stop by my office. I’d love to visit with you. I can also always be reached at linda.upmeyer@legis.iowa.gov or 515-281-4618.

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