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Iowa Public Radio requests funding boost

Published: Friday, April 18, 2014 11:08 a.m. CDT

(MCT) — A change in the leadership of Iowa Public Radio last year hampered fundraising efforts and has prompted officials to ask the Board of Regents for an unplanned boost in funding.

The board of directors for Iowa Public Radio — which was established by the Board of Regents in 2004 to oversee public radio operations licensed to Iowa’s public universities — approved its 2012-2016 strategic plan in 2011.

The plan included an annual funding schedule that decreased regent funding and increased private support with the goal of making IPR financially independent by the 2017 budget year.

Large donor fundraising was “key” to increasing private support, according to a funding request made public this week by the Board of Regents.

“However, IPR had an extended period with interim leadership, which resulted in interrupting the plan to increase funding from large donors,” according to the request.

IPR received $944,800 from the regent universities in the 2013 budget year, $826,700 in the current budget year, and it’s slated to get $708,600 in 2015, according to the approved funding schedule. But the IPR board is asking regents to revert to the 2013 funding level of $944,800 for next year.

“This will allow IPR’s new executive director and board of directors to launch a large donor effort and to update the strategic plan,” according to the request.

The additional $236,200 in regent support for 2015 will, according to IPR leadership, allow them to develop a “sustainable model that will result in meeting its financial goals in the future.” IPR plans to review its strategic plan and provide a “revised university support funding plan” to the regents.

According to the request, IPR plans to use about $500,000 in reserves to cover costs this budget year and to “spend conservatively” and find savings to keep next year’s costs down.

The IPR board in February 2013 voted to fire Mary Grace Herrington, who had been the system’s chief executive officer since 2009. In follow-up media reports, board members discussed some of the reasons behind her firing, including workplace environment issues and Herrington’s management style.

Herrington later received a $197,000 settlement with IPR after the board publicly discussed the personnel matter. The settlement was for “emotional distress and other compensatory damages.”

In exchange, Herrington released all her claims against IPR.

Following a monthslong search, Myrna Johnson was named IPR’s new executive director in January. Johnson has more than 30 years of experience in the non-profit sector, including eight years in the government affairs office of National Public Radio.

She grew up in rural northwest Iowa and has a bachelor’s degree from Wartburg College and a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

The Board of Regents could discuss the IPR funding request at its meeting in Council Bluffs next week.


©2014 The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)

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