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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

June 13, 2007

Regents wrap-up

by Anne Krapfl

Proposed renovations of the stadium and Snedecor Hall, a couple of new academic programs, a new name for the College of Agriculture and plans for a geomechanics research lab were among items pondered by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, June 12-13. Here's a wrap-up of regents activities.

Stadium renovation will begin this fall

The Board of Regents, State of Iowa, accepted athletics director Jamie Pollard's proposed financing plan for $19.5 million of first-phase improvements to Jack Trice Stadium June 13, and authorized the sale of bonds to partially pay for the work. Included in the bond request total is $2.5 million to refinance the remaining debt on the existing stadium suites. The athletics department has raised $3.5 million in private gifts. The remainder would be paid for with athletic facilities revenue bonds, which would be repaid over 25 years.

Last summer, the board asked Pollard for an external review of his plan to pay for the proposed stadium improvements. He hired Minneapolis-based Convention, Sports & Leisure to review the department's financial plan and assess the "reasonableness" of the revenue assumptions in it. CS&L officials have confirmed the athletics department's planning assumptions and financial plan for phase I of the stadium project. The debt repayment plan relies on additional revenues from: building more private suites and re-pricing the 10-year leases on existing suites, enhancing the amenities for the existing "club section" seats to strengthen that ticket option, and increasing National Cyclone Club giving levels required to qualify for various seating options both at the stadium and in Hilton Coliseum.

The phase 1 improvements to the stadium include:

  • (On the west side), adding 22 suites at the concourse level (for a total of 48 suites on the west side), enlarging two existing suites, installing operable windows in all the suites, and replacing the existing concession and restroom buildings. The new restroom, concession and retail shop areas would be partially built over the west berm, more than doubling the width of the west concourse.
  • (On the east side), renovating the existing club section (adding restroom and concession areas) and demolishing the center concession/restroom building.

Phase 1 work would begin immediately following the 2007 football season and be completed in time for the 2008 season.

New name for college

The board approved Iowa State's request to change the name of the College of Agriculture to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, effective immediately. Executive vice president and provost Elizabeth Hoffman said it's important that agriculture remains in the college's name. But, noting that 11 of the college's 15 departments are branches of science dealing with living organisms and life processes, it also is time for the college to have a name that better reflects the broad scope of the teaching, research and public service conducted in the college.

Hoffman said that in 1999, 16 colleges in the nation still carried the name "College of Agriculture." With Iowa State's change, now just seven remain with that name.

New Ph.D. in business and technology

The regents approved new Ph.D. program in business and technology in the College of Business, the college's first Ph.D. program. The program will prepare individuals for academic careers in research, teaching and public service. The estimated $1.14 million per year additional cost will be covered by new university funds, department and college reallocations, and external sources. The funds will add three faculty positions, graduate tuition support and graduate assistantships; and support research.

New B.S. in bioinformatics and computational biology

The regents also approved a B.S. program in bioinformatics and computational biology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. It will be administered by the genetics, development and cell biology department (GDCB), with faculty participation as well from the computer science and math departments. No Knew faculty or staff positions are needed. The required staff, faculty and space needed to implement the program will be met by GDCB reallocations. Graduates of the program will be trained to solve biological problems using techniques that include applied math, informatics, statistics, computer science, chemistry, artificial intelligence and biochemistry.

A new B.A./B.S. program in informatics at the University of Iowa. It does not focus on bioinformatics; rather graduates of the program will be trained to use computing to solve problems for organizations whose services focus on areas such as economics, art, geography, health sciences, biological sciences, linguistics, music or sociology.

Final approval for Snedecor

A final green light on renovation plans for Snedecor Hall got the final green light from the regents on June. 12.

The $9 million renovation of all three floors of Snedecor, home to the statistics department and several related service programs, will take about a year. The building will be vacated for up to 16 months, with some employees housed with academic units and others at the ISU research park or Wilson residence hall. The university will use indirect cost recovery funds from federal grants to pay for the renovation. A portion of these funds is designated to address depreciation of facilities. Vice president for business and finance Warren Madden noted that Snedecor houses numerous programs that bring in federal grants.

The renovation will create modern classrooms, computer labs and spaces for consulting; upgrade mechanical systems; replace the restrooms and windows, add an interior hallway in the south wing to improve traffic patterns; and restore the exterior masonry.

Employees and equipment likely will be moved out of Snedecor at the completion of fall semester. Following abatement of hazardous materials in the 1939 building, construction could begin by late March 2008 and wrap up the following spring. Employees likely would move back to Snedecor following the spring 2009 semester, according to project manager Tom Oftedal, facilities planning and management.

ISU buys property along Elwood Drive

The regents endorsed Iowa State's request to purchase 36 acres along Elwood Drive south of Reiman Gardens. Iowa State will pay the Packer family $1.5 million for 36.3 acres of land zoned for agriculture use at the intersection of Elwood Drive and Ironwood Court. Madden said the university is interested in the property because Elwood Drive is the primary entryway to campus. Iowa State wants to enhance this entryway as much as possible, including a gateway project near this property, and control potential retail or commercial development.

Dr. R. Allen Packer was a renowned microbiologist and distinguished professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine from 1942 to 1985. Members of the Packer family may continue to use the two residences on the property for a specified time.

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will use the cropland for experimental plot work that allows students to be involved in research.

Planning begins for geomechanics research lab

The regents gave permission for Iowa State officials to begin planning for a research lab focusing on geomechanics.

The proposed state-of-the-art geomechanics research lab would be affiliated with the civil, construction and environmental engineering department and rely on interdisciplinary collaboration. It would provide research, teaching and outreach opportunities. Approximately 87,000 square feet would provide lab, office, classroom and exhibition space. A location and exact cost is not yet known, but the estimated $20 million price tag would be covered by federal grants and private gifts. Madden said the university would not pursue the project if these funding options don't produce the needed dollars.

The proposed lab would focus on earth mechanics and construction sensor technology as they relate to construction engineering. The benefits would be significant to the construction industry, especially companies that do road construction, foundation engineering and earthwork.

Compensation policy endorsed

Iowa State's compensation policy for the fiscal year that begins July 1 received the regents' endorsement. Details of the policy were summarized earlier.