State funding requests are on regents' September agenda

State funding support for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2023, is on the agenda when the state Board of Regents meets next week at the University of Northern Iowa. The board's committees will meet Wednesday, Sept. 14, and the full board on Thursday morning, Sept. 15. All public portions of the meeting will be livestreamed on the board's website; the full agenda also is posted there.

Around Oct. 1 each year, the regents submit annual funding requests to the Iowa Legislature on behalf of the universities. As proposed, Iowa State is asking for two increases in operating support in FY2024: a $12 million (6.9%) increase to its general university appropriation and $376,519 in additional biosciences innovation support to fully fund, at $1 million each, the three economic development platforms under ISU management: biobased chemicals, precision and digital agriculture, and vaccines and immunotherapies. University of Iowa oversees the fourth, medical devices.

If funded, Iowa State's general university appropriation would increase to $186.1 million, the highest in more than a decade. Iowa State proposes to use the additional state operating support for:

  • Financial aid and support services for first-generation, resident undergraduates, $2 million
  • Additional degree and certificate programs in STEM and other high-demand fields to prepare Iowa's workforce, $4 million
  • Expanded mental health programming on campus and around the state, $1 million
  • Additional research in rare earth materials development and recycling, $3 million
  • Retaining high-performing faculty and staff to keep ISU's competitive position in areas such as digital agriculture, water quality and vaccine delivery technologies, $2 million

Building requests

Iowa State will request $62.5 million over four years (fiscal years 2024-27) in capital funds for an estimated $66.5 million second phase of the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at the College of Veterinary Medicine. University funds ($2.7 million) and private gifts ($1.3 million) would cover the remaining cost.

The regents also will request $8.2 million over two years (FY24-25) for a new 75-bed residence hall at the Iowa Lakeside Lab, a 147-acre research and experiential learning campus on West Lake Okoboji owned by the state, used by all three universities and currently managed by the University of Iowa. The new facility would replace 10 unheated cabins used only in the summer and two repurposed motel buildings -- a total of 65 beds -- and allow an additional 300 college students to study at the lab each year.

Adjusted construction budgets

ISU leaders also will seek permission to increase previously approved budgets for two campus projects:

  • Therkildsen Industrial Engineering Building (new construction). The request is to increase the project budget 35% (from $54 million to $73.2 million), to maintain the scope of the project while accommodating a projected 25% construction cost increase over 2021 estimates. The original budget anticipated a 10% cost increase. The $19.2 million increase would be covered by private gifts and university funds.
  • Union Drive Marketplace dining center (renovation). The request to increase the project budget 53% (from $3.6 million to $5.6 million) reflects both higher construction costs and an additional phase to what was a three-summer project, in order to complete additional venue upgrades and equipment purchases next summer (2023). ISU Dining funds would cover the increase.