UI Labor Center will fight to stay open, despite university program cuts

    The university said about 32 jobs will be impacted by the latest program cuts.

    The landscape at the University of Iowa is changing.

    This comes the university continues to suffer from more than $16 million in state budget cuts since 2016.

    Now, the university said a handful of programs have to go to offset loss in funding.

    Among the seven programs expected to be cut from the general education fund is the Labor Center.

    "We're really waiting for a more concrete answer to, 'who is it that wants to close this center'," said Jennifer Sherer, Director of the University of Iowa Labor Center.

    Sherer said she was blindsided by the university's decision to close the Labor Center.

    "We are the only entity within the regents system or within the state, honestly, that's devoted to education and research by and for and about working people," said Sherer.

    For nearly 70 years, the Labor Center had been an educational resource for workers, and staff conduct research on topics that have impacted the workforce in Iowa.

    "This is just the latest gut-punch to workers and their employers," said Iowa Senator Joe Bolkcom.

    Bolkcom and those in support of seven institutions expected to close, and others to lose funding, said the University's President's decision is disappointing.

    "That said, he's been dealt a hand that has Governor Reynolds and legislative republicans, for 8 years in a row, reducing the appropriation to the University of Iowa," he said.

    "We've had to make several hard decisions," said Sue Curry, said university Interim Executive Vice President and Provost.

    Curry said university leaders looked for where they could make changes that would impact students the least.

    "They're good activities, there's no judgement here, but they're activities where we need the dollars purposed for our educational mission," she said.

    Sherer wishes she had a say on the university's decision, but she is not letting go of the center without a fight.

    "I believe we are here to stay, and we're beginning a dialogue with the thousands of people that we will make sure weigh in on this," said Sherer.

    The university said about 32 jobs will be impacted by the latest program cuts.

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