Monday marked the start of another legislative session in Iowa.
With enrollment of 36,000 students and more Iowans attending Iowa State University than any other institution, the partnership between the university and the Iowa General Assembly has never been more important. This year, Iowa State is requesting a 2% increase ($3.7 million) in recurring funds that will be used to bolster programs and initiatives related to student success.
The request comes in an effort to keep an Iowa State education accessible and affordable while maintaining quality. However, years of lagging state funding have put the quality of the Iowa State experience at risk.
As enrollment has increased to record levels, state appropriations per resident student has rapidly declined. In 2008 when record growth began, Iowa State received $12,700 per resident student. At that time, 50% of revenue came from the state and the other half from tuition and fees. Today, the university receives $9,400 per resident student which reflects less than 30% of revenue coming from the state and nearly 70% from tuition and fees.
Over the last five years, Iowa State's undergraduate students have increased by 26%. Of this growt
h, majority is attributed to increases in agriculture, the biosciences, and engineering - fields that drive Iowa's economy. Because Iowa State is the only institution in Iowa to offer these disciplines, it's imperative that they continue to remain strong.
Critical to the early detection and effective response to diseases, the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab (VDL) is a prime example of an area needing legislative backing as it affects the state's annual
$32 billion animal agriculture industry.
The lab's impact goes beyond animal health to public health and safety by identifying new and emerging diseases
as well as provide tremendous teaching and applied research opportunities.
The VDL serves as one of only 11 Tier 1 labs in the National Animal Health Laboratory Network and is the only one in Iowa.
The caseload at the VDL has doubled over the past five years, now processing up to 80,000 cases each year and conducting 1.5 million tests annually, many with same-day results. In 2015, the VDL lead the nation's response to the avian influenza outbreak - demonstrating the application of world-class technology to real-world problems.
40-year-old facility isn't world-class. Originally built for 11 faculty and 20 technical staff members, the VDL now houses 25 faculty and more than 115 technical staff. Programs are severely overcrowded with minimal room to expand or pursue new technologies that keep ahead of emerging diseases.
Outdated infrastructure and crowding don't only limit diagnostic testing, these challenges also hinder the learning environment for future veterinarians and researchers. In addition, the space is potentially hazardous due to poor layout and airflow, posing a threat to biosafety and biocontainment.
As a result, Iowa State is requesting state funding of $100 million over five years to build an updated standalone facility critical to keep pace with biosecurity and service needs for animal health, food safety, public health, and the competitiveness of Iowa's animal agricultural industries for the current and future generations of Iowans.
View more detailed information on all of
the university's legislative priorities
. For more up-to-the-minute updates, be sure to follow the Alliance for Iowa State on
Construction rendering of the new Veterinary Diagnostic Lab