- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 5, 2015

AMES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Board of Regents awarded pay raises to two university presidents Wednesday, while also signaling support for an unprecedented mid-year tuition increase.

The board gave Iowa State University President Steven Leath a 5 percent increase, a sign of continued happiness with his job performance that will bump his base salary to $525,000. The board also approved a five-year deferred compensation plan for Leath that will pay him $125,000 annually through 2020.

Regents approved a smaller raise of 2.5 percent for University of Northern Iowa President William Ruud, pushing his base salary to $357,000. Ruud will also receive a two-year deferred compensation plan worth $150,000.

Those raises were approved after the regents evaluated their performance in a closed session in June.

The regents are searching for a new University of Iowa president to replace retiring Sally Mason, and are expected to make a hiring decision Sept. 4. Leath’s salary is now in line with what Mason made.

Also Wednesday, the board gave initial consideration to a plan to raise tuition by $100 on resident undergraduate students in the spring semester. No regent raised an objection, and a final vote is scheduled for next month. The only regent who spoke, Subhash Sahai, said he viewed the increase as “pretty nominal.”

The board usually sets tuition in late fall for the following school year, and last year voted to freeze rates for resident undergraduate students for a third straight year. But after Gov. Terry Branstad vetoed $6.2 million in funding last month for the universities, the board’s staff recommended keeping the freeze for the fall and imposing a 3 percent tuition hike for the spring on about 40,000 students.

The increase would generate $3.5 million in revenue. Board employee Patrice Sayer told regents the hike would “improve the budget status of our universities” so they can continue offering quality education.

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