Regents will again seek funds for new building projects

Projects include UI Pharmacy, ISU Biosciences, Schindler Ed Center buildings

Officials at Iowa’s three state universities will take another run in 2014 at convincing Gov. Terry Branstad to approve state funding for building improvements at campuses in Ames, Cedar Falls and Iowa City, the leader of the state Board of Regents said Tuesday.

Regent President Bruce Rastetter of Alden said the proposed projects at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa will provide needed improvements and savings for a system facing deferred maintenance of about $500 million. He said board members and university officials need to do a better job of articulating that to the governor in the next state budgeting cycle.

Branstad vetoed $3 million for the planning and design of a revamped UI Pharmacy Building, $2.5 million for the planning and design of a new ISU Biosciences Building, and $1.5 million for the planning and design of UNI's Schindler Education Center renovation. In his veto message, the governor said it was inappropriate to spend taxpayer money designing and planning the project "until strategic plans and sustainable financing are secure."

In response, the board has asked regents Larry McKibben and Milt Dakovich to lead a comprehensive efficiency study of infrastructure, technology and other areas of university functions with an eye on identifying areas where improvements can be made, savings can be achieved and investments should be made, he said.

Rastetter said the regents also have asked university officials to “to go back to the drawing board” and make the case why the capital improvements are needed to boost efficiencies, save on costs associated with deferred maintenance, and improve facilities that will produce educational benefits for students and faculty.

“I think we’ll have success with it,” Rastetter told reporters after addressing the Des Moines Conservative Breakfast Club.

“We should have done a better job of articulating that,” the regent president said. “That wasn’t presented in a good fashion last year. We’re trying again on all three buildings.”

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