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UNI Emails Reveal Administrator Plans to Release Budget Cuts to Public, Faculty and Students | KCRG-TV9 | Cedar Rapids, Iowa News, Sports, and Weather on Astini News

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – The Gazette, Waterloo Courier, and KCRG-TV9 recently reviewed 2,000 emails and documents sent and received by University of Northern Iowa administrators regarding Malcolm Price Lab School and the UNI Museum.

The document review focused on emails sent and received by President Ben Allen, Provost Gloria Gibson, and Dean of Education Dwight Watson.

The emails reveal carefully calculated outlines as early as January on how to release the budget cuts to the public, faculty and staff.

Price Lab parent and member of UNIFY for Education, Chris Andrews, says he's not surprised by the crafted communication plan.

"I think a lot of the decisions made have been executed exactly how they wanted them," said Andrews.

A January 23rd UNI Cabinet Meeting Summary shows early preparation for the backlash. Administrators are advised to avoid using terms like "funding/budget" and instead focus on a "transformation". The outline also asks that UNI leaders avoid discussion about teacher contracts and "packages to be offered".

"I really empathize and sympathize really with those people that can't speak and feel the guillotine a few inches from their neck," said Andrews. "Maybe because they're afraid of losing their job."

Dean of the College of Education, Dwight Watson, appeared to be one of the people asked to keep a somewhat tight-lip on the program cuts.

In an email conversation from February 25-27th, Watson is asked by communication officials to stop saying he is "concerned about the situation and the future". Instead, he is asked to show "strong leadership, vision and confidence in moving forward."

Later, communication officials suggest Watson turn down an invitation to speak with parents, faculty and staff at a March 2nd Price Lab rally. UNI spokesperson Stacey Christensen tells TV9 they asked Watson not to speak, because the rally followed an already heated and emotional discussion between UNI President Ben Allen and parents, staff and students.

A timeline for the release of information to the public also shows early plans to talk with editorial boards of several newspapers before talking with the larger faculty. This has been a subject of great discontent for many UNI faculty members.

Christensen says, during those meetings with the editorial boards, administrators did not discuss specific plans or cuts adding, "UNI is committed to communicating internally before talking about big announcements publicly."

While Price Lab parents do not speak for the entire university, they tell us they felt left out of the conversation and did not like getting information from the media.

"The lack of information," said Andrews, "we still really don't even know why they're closing [Price Lab]."

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