IOWA CITY - University of Iowa President Sally Mason said Friday that she will strive to improve the school's public relations in response to guidance from its governing board, which declined to extend her contract.
A document released Friday shows the Iowa Board of Regents let Mason's five-year contract expire July 31 and now considers her an at-will employee, which means she has no job protections. Board President Craig Lang told Mason in an Aug. 3 letter that regents had directed her to "reframe and reprioritize your goals" for the upcoming school year during her annual evaluation. Lang noted the regents agreed to increase Mason's salary by 2 percent, to $493,000.
Mason, 62, has led the university since 2007 and is credited with guiding the school's response to floods that devastated its arts and music campus and a recession that caused state funding cuts. She also came up with the popular plan to freeze tuition for in-state undergraduate students next year, which was approved by regents Wednesday. Yet Mason often has been on the defensive for the university's handling of personnel matters and other controversies, facing criticism for responding slowly or with excessive secrecy.
Mason acknowledged in a statement that she no longer has a contract. But she said she was satisfied that regents last year approved a 5-year deferred compensation plan guaranteeing her $150,000, on top of her salary, for every year she stays in the job through 2016.
Mason said she has worked with the regents to set a series of "mutually agreed upon goals that I am committed to reaching." Another document released Friday shows Mason's top performance goal for now is to improve the school's public relations in Iowa, both with members of the Legislature and the average resident.
"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," is how the goal is stated.
"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," Mason said. "I am committed to achieving the goals we established together and working to best of my ability to serve the citizens of Iowa."