Football stadium plans clear final hurdle

The athletics department's plans to replace the south end of the football stadium received a green light from the state Board of Regents Wednesday. The board approved the budget ($46 million), financing plan and schematic design for phase 1, clearing the way for construction to begin in July. The existing end zone seating won't be removed until after the 2014 season.

Targeted for completion in August 2015, the first phase will close in the south end zone with permanent upper (5,800) and lower (7,500) seating. The structure will connect the east and west concourses, add concessions and restrooms and house a two-level indoor club area. The project includes an HD-quality video board/sound system, the purchase of which the board approved in May. Glass facades on the club's upper level will look north into the stadium and south toward Reiman Gardens.

When completed, the stadium's seating capacity will exceed 61,000, a net gain of more than 4,200 seats.

The cost of the project will be covered by private gifts, department funds and the sale of $39 million in bonds, to be paid over 25 years with incremental revenues from the stadium and Bergstrom football complex.

A second phase of the project, estimated at about $14 million, will improve the parking and green spaces south of the stadium and adjacent to Reiman Gardens. Design concepts for that area still are being developed and reviewed.

Campustown lease

The board approved Iowa State's request to lease the middle floor (25,000 square feet) of a three-story building currently under construction by Kingland Systems at the southeast corner of Lincoln Way and Welch Avenue. The university's plan is to move the Iowa State Daily operations (currently in Hamilton Hall), University Relations (Communications Building) and the ISU Foundation call center (Durham Center) to the Campustown building in the summer or fall of 2015. The lease is for 15 years. The university will pay rent and its own operating expenses. The move is intended to free up campus space to accommodate enrollment growth, and also gives Iowa State a role in jump-starting Campustown redevelopment.

New centers

The board approved two new centers at Iowa State. The Iowa Soybean Research Center in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is a public-private partnership intended to meet the needs of Iowa soybean farmers. Funding partners include the university; Iowa Soybean Association (representing farmers); seed, chemical and equipment companies; and Iowa service providers such as farm management companies, cooperatives, grain elevators and crop advisers. Previously, no mechanism existed in the state to coordinate collaboration and information exchange among those serving soybean farmers. As proposed, plant pathology professor Greg Tylka will serve as director, and 25 percent of his time will be reassigned to the center. The center will be housed in Agronomy Hall.

The reinstated Midwest Transportation Center will administer a new grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to Iowa State's Institute for Transportation of $2.5 million/year (requiring a 100 percent non-federal match) for at least two years. The grant will fund efforts to solve transportation safety and infrastructure issues in the U.S. DOT's four-state region 7. Five universities and one community college will collaborate with Iowa State researchers. Iowa State's share of the matching funds will come in the form of indirect costs recovered and College of Engineering graduate student tuition. The center, which has existed in some form since 1987, will report to the vice president for research.

Leath compensation

Completing his annual performance review in closed session, the board met in open session to approve a salary increase for President Steven Leath of 7.123 percent. His salary for the year beginning July 1 will be $500,000. The board also approved a five-year contract with Leath and awarded him tenure in the plant pathology and microbiology department, pending approval by the faculty. Lastly, they approved a five-year deferred compensation plan valued at $562,500 and distributed this way: $25,000 (after July 1-Dec. 31, 2014), $100,000 (after Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2015), and $125,000 annually (Jan. 1, 2016-June 30, 2019).

Iowa president Sally Mason (new annual salary of $525,828) and Northern Iowa president Bill Ruud ($348,400) each received a salary increase of 2.5 percent and continuation of their existing deferred compensation plans.

Extension on Deloitte contract

On a 9-0 vote, the board approved a contract extension with Deloitte Consulting of up to $1 million for phase 2. Deloitte is assisting with the Transparent, Inclusive Efficiency Review (TIER) of the three universities. Regent Larry McKibben, who co-chairs the board's efficiency review committee, said the project timeline will be extended, from an anticipated September conclusion now to December, in order to review the universities' academic units and programs when faculty are on campus and can be involved in the process.

"We're going to have a little cost creep because we want to retain Deloitte in a longer time frame to keep them involved in the project," McKibben said. 

In the meantime, McKibben said Deloitte's phase 1 report -- which will identify approximately a dozen areas for administrative efficiencies and savings -- will be ready the week of June 16.

He said a Deloitte team would return to each campus yet this month to initiate phase 2. He said these campus forums would be less formal than the town hall meetings held in late March and early April.

McKibben shared his pleasure with Deloitte's work to date (the committee reviewed an early draft of the phase 1 report) and said the Deloitte team set its own "aspirational goal" for this project: Provide excellent and affordable higher education as an Iowa asset to the world.

Other ISU items

In other business, the board

  • Approved Iowa State's salary increase parameters for the year that begins July 1
  • Approved an update on development of the FY15 budget
  • Received a joint update on sustainability programs at the three campuses
  • Received the annual student financial aid study, which looks specifically at full-time resident undergraduates who filed the federal aid application, received and accepted financial aid. In 2012-13, that number was 11,288 at Iowa State, an increase of 394 from the previous year.
  • Received an update from Michael Crum on Iowa State's efforts to coordinate and integrate its economic development assistance services to the state and foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurialism on campus. Since August, Crum has served as senior policy adviser to the president for economic development.
  • Approved the interim appointment of John Cool as superintendent of the Iowa School for the Deaf, Council Bluffs; and Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School, Vinton. Superintendent Patrick Clancy will retire on June 30; his successor, Steven Gettel, arrives Aug. 1. Cool serves as assistant administrator of the Council Bluffs school.