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Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

United Faculty calls out use of funds

Over $1 million of general support fund shifted to UNI Athletics in the last two years

A report released during the Nov. 15 Board of Regents meeting revealed that UNI shifted nearly $1.06 million from General University Support Funds to cover UNI Athletics deficits over the past two years

Based on information found in UNI’s Comprehensive Fiscal Report for FY 2023, United Faculty put out a press release Tuesday evening bringing attention to the use of funding, what United Faculty President Chris Martin called, “a gut punch to our high goals and expectations for UNI academics.”

“We are completely astonished and angry to discover this,” Martin said in the press release. “This amount is equivalent to funding 10 or more tenure-track faculty positions, which we desperately need as many faculty positions have remained unfilled.”

United Faculty is the chief negotiating agent for UNI faculty, and is part of the American Association of University Professors.

(The shifting of funds) also raises a significant question about the budget priorities of this institution.

— Fernando Calderon, United Faculty Vice President

The press release reads, “UNI Athletics is an auxiliary program, which the UNI Factbook defines as ‘essentially self-supporting operations of the institution.’ Yet, unique to Iowa regents universities, UNI Athletics is already annually supported with about $3.4 million in General University Support Funds, and $1.28 million in scholarship support. The $1.06 million quietly shifted to UNI Athletics was unplanned and in addition to this typical annual support.”

The press release also noted the recent decrease in tenure-track and instructor positions. Between 2018-2022, the number of positions decreased from 506 to 408. 

As the Northern Iowan reported in September, the Textiles and Apparels Program is no longer accepting students, and the department cited faculty retirements as a reason why.

“The loss of academic funding ultimately affects students at UNI,” said United Faculty vice president Fernando Calderon in the release. “It also raises a significant question about the budget priorities of this institution.”

The above portion of the Comprehensive Fiscal Report for FY 2023 shows the over $900,000 amount shifted to UNI Athletics in the General Support row under the Variance column. (COURTESY)

United Faculty stated that, “​​The shifting of the funds to UNI Athletics was done with no consultation with faculty leadership.”

The press release continued, “The fund transfers came at a time when UNI Athletics had been cited with a ‘yellow’ warning for the BOR’s internal audit process on Sept. 14, 2022. UNI Athletics remained in yellow audit status as it missed its May 2023 original follow-up report deadline for corrective action. In FY 2023, UNI Athletics came in over-budget in several sports, and simultaneously fell short $871,212 in budgeted revenue from football, athletic marketing, and miscellaneous sources, according to the regents report.”

The Northern Iowan reached out to Director of University Relations Pete Moris for comment.

“Academics, student success and faculty support have always been central to our mission at the University of Northern Iowa. As part of the university’s Our Tomorrow campaign, over $169 million has been raised to date for scholarships, faculty support, engaged learning and academic programs. UNI continues to invest in our colleges and evolve our academic offerings to ensure we are providing the curriculum and opportunities that our students and the state of Iowa need today, tomorrow and into the future,” he said.

“Like many of our peer institutions, UNI has been faced with many difficult financial decisions across our entire campus over the last several years. Supporting successful NCAA Division I Athletic programs at UNI is integral in helping drive applications, admissions and financial giving to the institution. The success of our student-athletes in the classroom and in competition elevates the national profile of our entire institution, helping energize our campus and our alumni base and our greater Cedar Valley community,” Moris continued.

“UNI currently has one of the lowest athletics budgets compared to our conference peers. One of the ongoing directives for our athletics department is to generate more revenue and to identify additional opportunities for our athletics department to be more self-sustaining,” he said. “We understand and appreciate the concerns raised by members of our faculty union relative to these budget matters. Campus leadership continues to carefully weigh difficult decisions with the best interest of the entire university in mind as we continue to engage in dialogue with the UNI community on this topic.”

This is a developing story. It will continue to be updated at our website www.northerniowan.com

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