While you were away

BY DI STAFF | AUGUST 20, 2009 7:05 AM

UI garners $34 million in stimulus funds

UI President Sally Mason has announced the details of how the university will use federal stimulus money through July 2010.

The $34 million in cuts to the UI general education budget for fiscal 2010 will be offset by the $35.5 million in stimulus funds.

Officials will put $20 million toward the general education budget and use $14 million to fund grant proposals, Mason said. The remaining $1.5 million will be distributed later this year.

Some examples of the selected projects include $3 million for Energy Hawk, an energy-efficiency initiative, $600,000 to create high-tech classrooms, and $900,000 to purchase DNA-sequencing robots.

The UI Economic Research Institute predicted the proposals will also help the university’s budget avoid $2.6 million in recurring costs and generate a net revenue of $2.7 million in fiscal 2011, the institute reported.

Projects totaling more than $500,000 will be presented to the state Board of Regents for approval on Sept. 16-17.

— by Kevin Hoffman

Donations to UI top $200 million

Fiscal 2009 donations to the UI and UI Foundation exceeded $200 million for the second time in the university’s history. Donations totaled more than $203 million, an 8.2 percent or $15.5 million increase from fiscal 2008.

The donations will help the university “rise above the current challenges and meet our mandate to teach, discover new knowledge and serve the world,” UI President Sally Mason said in a statement.
Donations in fiscal 2009 helped the UI Foundation surpass $2 billion in cumulative gifts since 1956. UI Foundation President and CEO Lynette Marshall called the increase “nothing short of remarkable.”

— by Amy Dalkoff

Bar shuts down after numerous police calls

An South Side Iowa City bar, Los Cocos, 1921 Keokuk St., has shut down.

Owner Heather German made the decision after a shooting occurred in the parking lot on Aug. 9.
German was unavailable for comment, but Iowa City police Sgt. Troy Kelsay confirmed he was informed by the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division that Los Cocos had canceled its liquor license.

The bar was granted only a six-month license renewal in June because of what was described as high criminal activity near the establishment. Licenses are normally renewed on a yearly basis.

— by Nicole Karlis

Plans for third high school delayed

Iowa City residents may not see a new high school in operation by 2015.

Plans to build the new building — which would help ease the enrollment crunch in the district — have been delayed because of insufficient funds, said Superintendent Lane Plugge.

The projected operational costs for the district to handle increased enrollment could be as low $700,000, Plugge said, but that number skyrockets to $1.7 million when including staffing for a new school.

Officials are considering changing district boundaries as an alternate plan to address increased enrollment. Some students set to attend West High may be moved to City High School.

“City High is pretty stable; it isn’t growing,” Plugge said.

District officials have not yet set a revised date for opening the new high school. Their goal is to open the third high school when there are enough students to fill it, as well as when the plan becomes financially feasible, Plugge said.

— by Holly Hines

Former school counselor charged with abuse

A former Iowa City elementary-school guidance counselor was arrested and charged with second-degree sexual abuse on Aug. 12.

According to police documents, Coralville resident Donald Clark, 41, had closed counseling sessions with an 11-year-old boy when working at Wood Elementary. Clark allegedly molested the boy in these closed door sessions.

School officials have since said all school employees are subject to extensive background checks before being hired.

Clark has two previous drunk-driving arrests. He was also charged with indecent exposure a month before leaving his counselor position.

Second-degree sexual abuse is a Class B felony; if convicted, Clark faces up 25 years in prison.

— by Scott Raynor

Committee reviewing applicants for VP position

A 12-person search committee, headed by UI Professor Keith Carter, started reviewing applications for the UI’s new vice president for strategic communications.

UI President Sally Mason created the role last year to help the university meet strategic goals and serve as its chief communications officer.

Hiring for the vice presidency is on track despite universitywide restrictions on hiring, officials said.

Though, budget concerns forced the committee to continue the search without an outside firm.

Carter noted the high number of applicants could be the result of the poor economy.

“Perhaps some applicants are looking for a switch to a new institution due to financial difficulties at their own institutions,” he said.

UI officials hope the new vice president will start by the end of the calendar year.

— by Lauren Mills

UI set to revise faculty sexual-misconduct policy

After the UI student sexual-misconduct-policy revisions were completed in December, UI President Sally Mason decided it was a good time to look at the faculty policy, UI law Professor Jonathan Carlson said.

The law firm Schuster & Clifford will provide guidance and advice to the UI as officials update the existing faculty and staff sexual-harassment policy.

The law firm met with various campus-based focus groups in March to discuss the current policy.

On the university’s side, the review will be spearheaded by Carlson, who will lead a nine-member on-campus committee that will work with Schuster & Clifford to rework the policy.

Carlson is preparing policy revisions for review by the committee and consultants with the input period likely to take place this fall. A final draft is expected to be ready by December.

— by Shane Ersland

UI gets approval for new Art Building East site

The state Board of Regents approved a new site for the UI Art Building East at its Aug. 5 meeting.

The building was damaged beyond repair during the flooding in June 2008, and university officials have searching for a new location.

The UI received permission from the regents to negotiate with property owners along both sides of River Street, which includes apartment buildings and fraternities, for the new site.

The move is estimated to cost around $60 million and could be completed in two to three years. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover the majority of the cost to relocate.

— by Shane Ersland

Flu vaccine tests underway at Iowa

The UI began testing the H1N1 flu vaccine on volunteers earlier this month.

The National Institutes of Health chose the UI Hospitals and Clinics July 22 as one of eight hospitals nationwide to test the H1N1 flu vaccine.

The announcement pleased hospital officials and researchers, who applied for the research opportunity in 2007.

“We were awarded the contract based on our history of being able to manage large-scale clinical trials,” Patricia Winokur, the principal investigator for the study, said in a news release.

The UIHC is seeking volunteers ages 18 to 65 and older to participate in the study for seven months.

The nationwide study is aimed at determining the effective dosage of the H1N1 vaccine in preparation for the flu season this fall.

— by Zhanran Zhao

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