UNI budget cuts continue - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UNI budget cuts continue

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -

Budget cuts continue at the University of Northern Iowa.  Monday, the Iowa Board of Regents approved a measure that will offer incentives for staff to step down.  The move comes on the heels of protests against the planned closure of Price Lab School.

For most students at the University of Northern Iowa, it's business as usual.  But others continue to organize and protest the college's budget cuts, namely the planned closure of Price Lab School.  In Seerley Hall, the "Students United for Academics" urge classmates to bring their books and computers for a sit-in at the administration building through Friday night at 7 p.m.

"Basically we are just studying, learning, talking, having discussions in proximity to the administration offices. Our goal is for them to see that there are people here, there are students here to learn, here to study, and we are here to support the academic integrity of the university," UNI graduate student Roy Werner said.

That support stretches to the state capital in Des Moines.  A day off class at Price Lab Monday allowed a bus load of the school's students, parents, and staff to meet with lawmakers.

"Our legislators need to realize how many people want to keep Price Lab open and want more funding for the University of Northern Iowa," Price Lab parent Kristin Teig Torres said.

But the cuts just keep coming.  Monday, the Iowa Board of Regents unanimously approved a resolution to expand the early separation incentive program.  It offers tenured faculty the chance to resign or retire early with a full year's pay, pay for accrued sick time and money to extend healthcare benefits.  The early cash-out will only be offered to staff who will be affected by the planned elimination or merger of academic programs.

"It goes back to the whole purpose of looking at the university and planning to have the university be strong for the future.  So we're looking to reallocate funds from different areas on campus.  And the best way to manage personnel is through attrition.  So this is an incentive for people that are perhaps thinking of leaving the institution to give them an incentive to leave at this point," UNI spokesperson Jim O'Connor said.

Faculty have until April 23rd to decide whether to enroll in the early separation program.  How much money the university saves will bank on just how many faculty agree to enroll.  29 tenured professors have been offered an early retirement package.  Layoffs are possible depending on how many accept the offer.

UNI's latest budget cuts come as Governor Terry Branstad pushes lawmakers to increase spending on public universities by $20 million.

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