Funding request to replace LeBaron Hall goes to regents

State funding requests for the year that begins next July, a $55 million replacement/renovation proposal for LeBaron and MacKay halls, and a recommendation to discontinue a 4-year-old shared student application portal are on the agenda when the state Board of Regents meets Sept. 18-19 at the Iowa School for the Deaf in Council Bluffs. The full agenda is online and, for the first time, live videostream of all public portions of the meeting will be available on the board's website.

Iowa State will ask for the same increase ($7 million) to its general university operating appropriation it sought during the 2019 legislative session, when it received $4 million. No incremental increases will be requested for the university's direct appropriations for programs and units. The regents face an Oct. 1 deadline to submit fiscal year 2021 funding requests to the state.

As proposed, Iowa State and the University of Iowa will seek an additional $2.9 million in FY21 for the four platforms in its joint Biosciences Innovation effort, currently supported by $1.1 million in state funds. Iowa State is taking the lead on three of the four platforms (biobased chemicals, precision and digital agriculture, vaccines and immunotherapies) identified in a 2017 "TEConomy" report released by Gov. Kim Reynolds. Iowa is overseeing the fourth, medical devices. A year ago, the two universities requested $4 million ($1 million per platform) in recurring appropriations to work with the state's economic development authority to establish the Iowa Biosciences Development Center. The FY21 request reflects that funding plan.

New central campus building

Iowa State will present a three-year (2021-23), $10 million per year state appropriations request to the board, part of a $55 million plan to provide modern instructional and research space for the College of Human Sciences. If funded, the project would replace LeBaron Hall (built in 1958 and not significantly renovated since) with a new building that's 70% larger. It also would renovate a small portion of the adjoining MacKay Hall. The college completed space studies in 2014 and 2017, and while it needs additional space, would like to maintain its central campus location.

As proposed, the state funds would be supplemented with $10 million in university funds and $15 million in private gifts.

Admissions portal underused

The Iowa Public Universities Application Portal launched in July 2015, an outcome of the regents' 2014-15 TIER efficiency study and intended to provide high school graduates an efficient way to apply to more than one regent university. However, use has been low -- between 66 and 137 completed applications annually. In the meantime, all three regent universities started using the National Common Application, which meets the needs of Iowa residents who want to apply to more than one of the state's public universities. The regent universities' admissions study team recommends discontinuation of the state portal.

In other business, Iowa State leaders will seek board permission to:

  • Demolish the Insectary building on Pammel Drive. Entomology department employees and programs moved into the Advanced Teaching and Research Building last year and the building is vacant. The site would be maintained as green space. University funds would cover the estimated $600,000 demolition cost.
  • Replace the roof on all sections of Friley residence hall. The cost, estimated at $5.6 million to $6 million, would be paid with dormitory system improvement funds.
  • Add a bachelor of science in business analytics degree program in the Ivy College of Business, beginning in January 2020.
  • Add a masters of athletic training degree program in the College of Human Sciences, beginning in May 2020.
  • Sell 10.6 acres of woodland on Stagecoach Road in east Ames to an Ames family for $166,500, the highest of two bids received. Previously the land was used for forestry department teaching and research (1954-66) and leased to the city (1966-2016).