University of Iowa's Bruce Harreld moves into president's house

Harreld and wife arrive at 102 Church St. after monthslong renovations

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After spending his first nine months as University of Iowa President living off campus in a leased Iowa City town house, Bruce Harreld and his wife, Mary Gillilan Harreld, over the weekend moved into the presidential residence at 102 Church St.

The couple couldn’t inhabit the 108-year-old digs until crews completed $1.5 million in overdue upgrades — addressing failing plumbing, leaking gutters, deteriorating mortar, woodwork cracks, and worn carpet, officials said.

University officials decided to take advantage of the transition between presidents to tackle the upgrades after former UI President Sally Mason announced her retirement in January 2015 — before Harreld’s hire, said Rod Lehnertz, senior vice president for finance and operations.

The 13,000-square-foot structure at 102 Church St. — which was built in 1908 for $25,067 and has housed 14 presidents, including Harreld — is used for universitywide events and includes a 1,300-square-foot presidential apartment. It has undergone several renovations over the years, the most recent of which occurred in 2004 when crews remodeled the kitchen to facilitate catering for large events, upgraded heating and cooling systems to make them more energy efficient, and replaced the single-car garage with a two-car garage.

The recent upgrades to the electrical and plumbing systems, finishes, accessories, and exterior surfaces went as planned and stayed on budget, Lehnertz said. Delaying the project would have added to its cost, he said.

While Harreld and his wife waited to move in, they lived in a town house that cost the university $2,000 a month — or $24,000 a year — which UI officials said was less costly than a hotel and provided a small yard for the family dog.

Before taking over as UI president in November, Harreld and his wife were in Avon, Colo. — a mountain town near Vail — where he was working as a consultant for businesses and corporations. They previously had lived in Cambridge, Mass., when he was teaching at Harvard Business School.

The university — at the same time it pitched the presidential residence upgrades — proposed $750,000 to $900,000 in improvements to the president’s office in Jessup Hall. But Harreld last year asked to put those renovations on hold.

Lehnertz said crews instead advanced some “minor” upgrades for the office, which has not seen significant improvements since the building was constructed in 1924. The budget for that work was scaled down to about $90,000 — about $60,000 to paint, replace carpet, and remove asbestos and about $30,000 to update the audio-video equipment in the president’s conference room.

That project is expected to be ready for the fall semester, according to Lehnertz.

UI presidents who have lived in the house:

George MacLean, 1899-11 (moved there in 1909)

John G. Bowman, 1911-14

Thomas H. Macbride, 1914-1916

Walter A. Jessup, 1916-1934

Eugene A, Gilmore, 1934-1940

Virgil M. Hancher, 1940-1964

Howard R. Bowen, 1964-1969

Willard L. Boyd, Jr., 1969-1981 (moved there in 1976)

James O. Freedman, 1982-1987

Hunter R. Rawlings III, 1988-1995

Mary Sue Coleman, 1995-2002

David J. Skorton, 2003-2006 (moved to the house in 2004 when renovation was completed)

Sally Mason, 2007-2015

Bruce Harreld, 2015-present (moved in August 2016)

Source: University of Iowa

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