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Remaining stimulus money to fund several new projects

BY JOHN DOETKOTT | DECEMBER 17, 2009 7:30 AM

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While a majority of the UI’s stimulus money went to salaries and benefits for employees who will leave the university, several other important projects will also depend on the federal funding.

The UI spent nearly $33.4 million of its total $35.5 million in stimulus funds to reduce its workforce, an effort that included implementing an early retirement program. And with more than $2 million still in reserve, the university has started a number of projects to improve the campus and increase interest in the university.

The UI will spend roughly $500,000 to increase recruitment efforts, with $200,000 of that sum going directly toward reaching out to international students.

Director of Admissions Michael Barron said recruiters are focusing efforts on schools and areas that have traditionally yielded a high number of UI students to build what he called a “pipeline effect.”

“We’re able to build on past relationships and past successes,” he said. “We’re not doing it in some broad, blanket approach, we’re using a targeted approach.”

The stimulus funds will help cover travel costs and education materials.

With the Iowa Promise initiative, UI officials have said they plan to add 100 students each year over a five-year period, which may help to ease budget woes.

Another $483,500 of the stimulus money is going toward the new Energy Hawks and Energy Control Center, which, officials said, will ultimately produce cost-saving opportunities and further the UI’s eco-friendly initiatives.

Don Guckert, the associate vice president for UI Facilities Management, said the center would use the university’s existing technology and provide a base on which to build later.

“We’re building the infrastructure right now to enable us to do what we want to do in the future,” he said.

The new facility, to be housed in the University Services Building, will allow staff to monitor all campus buildings from one central location and identify small problems with equipment before they develop into serious conditions, thereby saving the UI money, Guckert said.

Liz Christiansen, the director of the Office of Sustainability, said few college campuses have the opportunity to manage their energy use in this way.

Savings from the project might not be apparent right away, Guckert said, but he noted it could wind up saving millions of dollars. He could not provide an estimate of savings on Wednesday.

The UI will also spend $450,000 to renovate classroom space in downtown Cedar Rapids to house M.B.A. classes. UI spokesman Tom Moore said the facility is necessary to accommodate working professionals who wish to further their education but are unable to make the trip to Iowa City.

Other projects funded by stimulus dollars include the further development of online classes, a campus license for DNA analysis software, and the development of curriculum and a teaching laboratory for nanoscale devices and systems engineering.


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