Memorial Union projects could begin next summer

Meeting Nov. 9-10, the state Board of Regents approved 41 Iowa State faculty requests for professional development assignments in the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2023. The PDA plans include 21 for fall semester 2023, 14 for spring semester 2024 and six for the full academic year. While the three regent universities set their own eligibility requirements for a PDA, at Iowa State, 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.

Memorial Union improvements

The regents also approved budgets and schematic designs for two more renovation projects at the Memorial Union that will create modern spaces to better serve ISU students. Both projects are scheduled to begin this summer.

The first is a $2.25 million project that will remodel 5,000 square feet on the second floor (main level) to open up the Col. Pride Lounge to the main corridor. It includes spaces formerly used by the U.S. Postal Service, lectures program staff and hotel desk, and will provide a larger, brighter area for students to meet and study.

The second is a $4.3 million project to renovate 12,000 square feet on the third floor between the bookstore and parking ramp. This is space vacated by student service units that moved upstairs last spring to offices created through a $10 million renovation of floors 4-6. The project creates suites for Multicultural Student Affairs and Student Support Services, both of which currently operate from the Student Services Building.

Other Iowa State agenda items

In other business, the board approved Iowa State requests to:

  • Proceed with $28.5 million in infrastructure, flood mitigation and paving improvements at the Iowa State Center parking lot in preparation for the proposed CYTown development. The project will add underground utilities, 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. Construction begins in the spring and is scheduled to wrap up in fall 2024.
  • 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.
  • 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 in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. About 130 students enroll 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 operates at the BioCentury Research Farm, focusing on ag productivity and efficiency and studying the impact of equipment and new technology on crop agronomics. The additional space will help the program better support its ag industry partners.