Regents to vote on funding request for vet diagnostic lab

A five-year, $100 million state appropriations request to replace the ISU veterinary diagnostic laboratory (VDL) is on the agenda when the state Board of Regents meets Sept. 7-8 at the University of Iowa. Funding for the estimated $124 million project also would include $20 million in private gifts and $4 million in university funds.

The regents face an Oct. 1 deadline to submit operating and building funding requests to the state for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2017. The board's top priority for next year is a $15 million request to address deferred maintenance, fire safety and energy conservation needs at all of the regent institutions and provide infrastructure for Iowa Public Radio. Over five years (FY 2018-22), the board's funding request to the state for this category totals $100 million.

A live audio stream of all public portions of the meeting will be available on the board's homepage. An agenda and supporting documents also are online.

Iowa State's VDL is the only full-service and fully accredited one in the state. Since it opened in 1976, its employee base has grown from 11 faculty and 20 staff to 25 faculty and 120 technical staff processing more than 75,000 submissions in space that hasn't changed. In addition to providing more space for modern diagnostic technologies, a new facility will meet biosafety and biocontainment requirements. The board will vote to request a state commitment of $20 million per year in fiscal years 2018-22.

Because of previous multiyear legislative commitments, in FY18 Iowa State also will receive $19.5 million to complete two biosciences facilities (Bessey addition and new teaching/research building) and $9 million to begin the Student Innovation Center south of Sweeney Hall.

The proposed request for increased state support for Iowa State's FY18 operating budget is 2 percent. This includes the education, economic development and agricultural appropriations that support operating expenses. If the 2017 Legislature were to approve the request, it would add $4.8 million to this year's $708 million operating budget.

In response to Gov. Terry Branstad's request for two-year appropriations requests, at this early date Iowa State also will request a 2 percent operating appropriations increase for FY19.

Vet Med café, chilled water expansion

Iowa State will present a schematic design and revised budget ($3.45 million, previously $1.85 million) and seek board permission to begin a project at the College of Veterinary Medicine to relocate and expand the Gentle Doctor Café and commons. This includes a second-floor addition to the north side of the college and renovation of adjacent space. The proposed commons, with a capacity of 50 people, is designed as flexible space for collaborative academic uses, meetings and special events. Construction would begin in May and last about 16 months. Food service would be maintained at the college during construction, likely a reduced menu in a temporary location. College funds ($3.35 million) and private gifts ($100,000) would pay for the project.

Iowa State also will seek final approval from the board on a $22 million project to expand the campus' chilled water (air conditioning) capacity on the north and west sides of campus in response to recent building projects and anticipated growth in the next 10 years. Specifically, it would add two chillers and one cooling tower to the north plant (Kooser Drive), replace the underground electrical line between the power plant and north plant to operate the chillers, and install new underground chilled water pipes near Kooser and Bissell Road. The proposed funding sources are utility revenue bonds ($18.75 million) and utility funds ($3.25 million).

In other business, Iowa State will seek permission to:

  • Award an honorary Doctor of Science degree to alumnus and Orange City native Dennis Muilenburg, chairman, president and chief executive officer of The Boeing Company, for "outstanding contributions to the advancement of science and technology, particularly in the field of aerospace engineering." Muilenberg received a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering from Iowa State in 1986, and a master's degree in aeronautics and astronautics from the University of Washington (1990). Faculty members in the aerospace engineering department nominated him for the honorary degree.
  • Promote one more (previously tenured) faculty member, bringing the total number of actions at Iowa State for 2016-17 to 59, (58 cases were presented in April).
  • Name the future indoor tennis practice facility for 1956 alumnus, Des Moines attorney and longtime ISU supporter Bruce McKee. The building naming would be effective when the university exercises its option to purchase the facility prior to or at the conclusion of a five-year lease the board approved in April with developer Dickson Jensen. McKee provided a lead $0.5 million gift toward the purchase of the estimated $2.5 million facility, which is under construction on South Dakota Avenue south of the basketball practice facility.