Restroom project at Parks Library gets green light

Forty-three Iowa State faculty received preliminary approval from the state Board of Regents Dec. 6 for professional development assignments in the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2018. The group includes 29 males and 14 females and their plans vary in length from a semester (28), full academic year (12), something in between (two) to a full calendar year (one). 

The board's academic and student affairs committee approved the proposals, which will go to the full board in January.

All Iowa State faculty employed at least half-time -- 1,865 -- were eligible to apply for a PDA, typically used to pursue intensive research or scholarship, or prepare publications. Priority may go to tenured faculty over nontenure-eligible, and to faculty who haven't received a PDA in the past five years. Next year's group includes faculty from the rank of Distinguished Professor to assistant professor. Their average length of service is 11.8 years. The estimated faculty replacement cost, net of the salary savings from faculty on assignment for a full year, is $116,000.

Senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert told regents it's a competitive application process; not all proposals make it through the department, college and finally university approval process. Faculty are required to submit a final report on the outcomes achieved by their professional development assignments, he said.

Dietetics graduate degree

The board approved a Master of Professional Practice in Dietetics (MPPD), a non-thesis, online graduate degree in the food science and human nutrition department. By 2024, a master's degree will be required to take the national credentialing exam to become a registered dietitian. Demand for the MPPD program is high among current dietetic internship graduate certificate students -- about 180 annually -- and credits earned in the certificate program will be applied to the master's degree.

Renovation projects

An Iowa State request to renovate numerous restrooms at Parks Library cleared both the property and facilities committee and the full board this week. The university will gut and reconfigure 14 restrooms across all five levels of the northwest section of the library. The renovations will provide accessibility compliance and add a family restroom to each floor. Work will be done over the summers of 2018 and 2019. General university funds will cover the $2.3 million cost.

Approved by the property and facilities committee in October, these ISU requests received full board approval this week:

  • A two-summer, $4.8 million project to replace all the windows and blinds in Friley residence hall. The cost will be covered by residence department funds.
  • Interior upgrades and renovations at the Knoll, as part of the presidential transition. October's estimated $750,000 project budget has since been reduced to about $150,000 by President Wendy Wintersteen. University (non-general fund) resources will cover the costs.
  • A revised budget for the cancer therapy addition to the small animal hospital at the College of Veterinary Medicine to purchase different oncology equipment than initially proposed, add patient recovery space and accommodate higher-than-anticipated bids. The revised project budget is $3.7 million, an increase of $950,000.
  • A revised budget, an increase of nearly $1.2 million, to $4.5 million, for the window replacement project at Wallace-Wilson residence halls. The increase is due to rising product and labor costs. Work began last summer and will be completed in summer 2018.

And finally, these projects were presented to the board's property and facilities committee this month and will be forwarded to the full board for final approval in January: 

  • A university proposal to house the interdisciplinary Nanovaccine Institute, which the board approved in June but has functioned as a multi-institution research venture since 2013, on the unfinished fifth floor of the new Advanced Teaching and Research Building. Anson Marston Distinguished Professor in chemical and biological engineering Balaji Narasimhan serves as director for the institute, which includes about 70 scientists from 21 universities, health care companies and national laboratories. The project budget is estimated at up to $6.5 million, to be covered by university funds and private gifts. The building's lower floors are scheduled to open next semester.
  • A proposal by ISU Dining to renovate and reconfigure about 75 percent of the Hub interior to separate the coffee and grill venues and reduce congestion. The plan moves the coffee venue to the north end of the building (phase 1), separating it from the grill area. The southeast corner of the building, now used primarily for vending, would be converted to storage. The existing seating areas would be renovated. ISU Dining will pay for the estimated $2.4 million project. The timeline calls for bidding the project in the spring, with the coffee venue ready by the start of fall semester and the grill area several months later.
  • A proposal by the athletics department to reconstruct and expand the parking lots immediately north and south of Hilton Coliseum (C1 and C2) and the roads on the east and west sides of the building. The number of highest-level donors to the department continues to grow, as does feedback about crowding and lack of parking for basketball games. The project includes additional sidewalks, new lighting, improved accessibility and a dedicated parking area for the visiting team bus. The addition of a north driveway to Lincoln Way, for event day use only, is being studied. Athletics department funds will cover the estimated $3.8 million cost.
  • The cost of recreation services' proposal to upgrade, irrigate and light the intramural fields east of Willow residence hall would increase $580,000 (about 28 percent) under an amended plan that includes additional turf upgrading, a retaining wall and some paved areas to better handle foot traffic. Recreation services funds will cover the revised $2.7 million cost.

Interim leaders

The board approved the interim appointments of: Joe Colletti as interim Endowed Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and interim director of the Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station; Pam Elliott Cain as interim senior vice president for university services and interim senior vice president for finance (the latter on Dec. 15); and Kristen Constant as interim vice president and chief information officer.

Bond sales

The board approved two bond sales on behalf of Iowa State. The first is for $25.4 million in academic building revenue refunding bonds to advance refund $26 million of bonds sold in 2009 to finance part of the construction costs for Hach Hall. Lower interest rates will save the university an estimated $2.2 million.

The second is $21.5 million in recreational system facilities revenue refunding bonds to advance refund bonds sold in 2010 to finance part of the construction costs for the State Gym expansion and renovation. Lower interest rates will save recreation services an estimated $1.6 million.

Audit conclusion

In response to Auditor of State Mary Mosiman's Oct. 24 report on the university's purchase of a single-engine airplane in July 2014 and former President Steven Leath's use of it for both business and personal use, Iowa State leaders defended the purchase and said Leath's reimbursement payments to date are adequate.

Mosiman subsequently acknowledged the university's response (but did not audit the content of it) and wrote, "the university should ensure all purchases have a business purpose and the business purpose is clearly documented." Regent Nancy Dunkel, chair of the board's audit and compliance committee, and board executive director Mark Braun had no further comment about the issue.