Univ. of Iowa President Working without Contract

By Diane Heldt, Reporter

University of Iowa President Sally Mason speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in her office in Iowa City, Iowa on Friday, Jan. 21, 2011. Mason said a plan approved by the Iowa House that would cap tuition increases and cut the university's budget would be "very painful" and put school initiatives at risk. (AP Photo/ Ryan J. Foley)

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By Aaron Hepker

IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa President Sally Mason's five-year contract expired July 31, and she has been working since then as an at-will employee of the university, according to a document from the regents office.

State Board of Regents President Craig Lang did not immediately return a message seeking comment today, and a regents office spokeswoman said she was unsure if Lang would say anything beyond the comments he made this week to Iowa Public Radio about Mason.

But a letter from Lang to Mason dated Aug. 3 says the regents asked Mason to lay out ways in which she planned to "reframe and reprioritize" goals for this academic year.

In a statement this afternoon, Mason said based upon her discussion with the regents in August, she and the board set "mutually agreed upon goals that I am committed to reaching."

"The regents have asked us to improve our outreach across the state and the university's relationship building with the Iowa Legislature, and to set specific targets on a range of objectives," Mason said in the statement. "The board members told me that they want the University of Iowa be well known for the great benefits it brings to the state, and I can’t agree more with that stance. I am committed to achieving the goals we established together and working to best of my ability to serve the citizens of Iowa."

Mason also said her initial employment period was for five years, a contract that ended on July 31, 2012.

"I was satisfied with the five-year deferred compensation plan for me that ends June 30, 2016, which the board approved last year," she said.

Lang told Iowa Public Radio the regents are asking Mason to improve the university's statewide outreach, improve relations with the Iowa Legislature and establish goals.

"We'd like to see the University of Iowa be well-known for the things it brings to the state," Lang told Iowa Public Radio. "The dentists, the nurses, the lawyers, the communication – that the university is doing really great things. And we think all of that kind of communication starts at the top."

Mason, along with Iowa State University President Steven Leath and University of Northern Iowa President Ben Allen, received a 2 percent pay raise in August after the regents conducted closed-session annual evaluations of the presidents.

Mason's salary this year is $493,272, and she also has a deferred compensation package with a $150,000 annual contribution through June 30, 2016. That deferred compensation package has been in place since 2007, and the amount was increased to $150,000 in 2011.

The Aug. 3 letter from Lang to Mason states the board "has also asked you to reframe and reprioritize your goals for 2012-13 based upon our discussion with you during your evaluation. Please submit your reframed and reprioritized goals to Executive Director Bob Donley no later than Aug. 20, 2012."

Those new goals for 2012-13, released Friday afternoon by the UI, lists as the top two goals for Mason increasing communication and brand management to increase public support of the university, and continuing progress toward the current UI fundraising goal of $1.5 billion.

The communication goal, listed first and as 30 percent of her performance, says Mason will "increase the amount of positive communication in Iowa about the University of Iowa to build greater support and brand recognition of the university by the general public and elected officials."

Remaining competitive in federal funding is listed as the third goal, finalizing a three-year strategic plan for UI Health Care is the fourth goal, and achieving regents standards in areas such as in-state enrollment, recruiting Iowa residents and long-term budgeting is the fifth goal.

Mason's five-year contract as UI president began Aug 1, 2007, when she started at a salary of $450,000.

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