Faculty development requests, MU upgrades on regents agenda

Descriptions and budgets for two more renovation projects at the Memorial Union and for CYTown parking and infrastructure improvements at the Iowa State Center are on the agenda when the state Board of Regents meets next week at the Iowa School for the Deaf in Council Bluffs. The board also will review faculty professional development requests for next year. The full agenda is online, and all public portions of the meeting will be livestreamed on the regents website.

Memorial Union improvements

On the heels of a $10 million project that renovated the top three floors of the MU comes two more projects: A $2.25 million project to remodel 5,000 square feet on the second floor (main level) and a $4.3 million project to renovate 12,000 square feet in the third-floor area between the bookstore and parking ramp. The impacted second-floor area would open up the Col. Pride Lounge to the main east-west corridor and includes spaces formerly used by the U.S. Postal Service, lectures program staff and hotel desk. With higher ceilings, flexible seating and better lighting, it would become a larger, more attractive space for students to meet, study and dine using existing food services.

The third floor project would renovate space vacated by student service offices that moved upstairs last spring. It will create two suites with offices, student lounge and study rooms for Multicultural Student Affairs and Student Support Services. Both programs currently operate in undersized areas in the Student Services Building. As proposed, both projects would begin next summer.

CYTown infrastructure

The $28.5 million plan to prepare lots for the proposed CYTown development will add underground infrastructure, improve 4,200 parking stalls, raise the eastern portion of the lots above Ioway Creek's 100-year flood plain and relocate the CyRide transit hub. Funding will come from the athletics department, university investment income and private gifts. Work would begin in the spring.

Faculty requests for development leave

Iowa State is requesting professional development assignments (PDA) for 41 faculty for fiscal year 2024 (July 1, 2023-June 30, 2024). That represents 2.3% of the ISU faculty. Each of the regent universities has its own eligibility requirements for a PDA. At Iowa State, there's essentially one: All faculty with at least a half-time appointment may apply. Priority goes to accomplished senior faculty, faculty seeking competitive fellowships (such as a Fulbright Award) and those who haven't received a PDA in the previous five years.

More ISU requests

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

  • Sell six acres of land, including five buildings, on the west edge of Nevada, to Frontline Bioenergy, Ames. Iowa State purchased the land in 1998 and developed it. Initially, it was used by the Iowa Energy Center, which closed in 2018, and, via a set of leases involving the ISU Research Park, by Frontline BioEnergy, which used it for a university research project that also has ended.
  • For use by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, purchase nearly 23 acres of farmland from the Committee for Agricultural Development for $337,175. The property, three miles southwest of central campus, is adjacent to land owned and operated by the student-managed Ag 450 Farm. The purchase would benefit approximately 130 students enrolled each year in the Ag 450 capstone course.
  • Sign a 15-year lease with the ISU Research Park for 81,500 square feet in a yet-to-be-constructed Ag Innovation Lab facility in the south part of the park. The Digital Ag program in the agricultural and biosystems engineering department, currently operating at the BioCentury Research Farm, focuses on improving ag productivity and efficiency and understanding the impact of equipment and new technology on crop agronomics. The program needs more space to support its ag industry partners. The space would include offices, lab and testing rooms, high bay and cold storage, and access to shared common and atrium areas. Rent would start at $808,360 per year, adjusted every five years.

Scheduled oral reports during the two-day meeting include:

  • Annual report on campus safety, with chief of police Michael Newton and peers, to the campus and student affairs committee, Wednesday, 11 a.m.
  • Update on student health centers, with associate vice president of health services Erin Baldwin and peers, to the campus and student affairs committee, Wednesday 11 a.m.
  • Summary of an upcoming high school admissions pilot project with the Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency, Quad Cities, and several nearby school districts, with board staff member Rachel Boon, academic affairs committee, Wednesday 1:30 p.m.
  • Annual report on economic development and tech transfer, with David Spalding, interim vice president economic development and industry relations, and peers, to the full board, Thursday, 9:15 a.m.