Hancher, School of Music can split, regents say


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AMES — The state Board of Regents told UI officials on Thursday to pursue a plan that splits the future locations of Hancher Auditorium and the new music facility.

The regents unanimously approved UI President Sally Mason’s proposal to rebuild Hancher near its current site west of the river and the music building in a downtown location.

“We do feel this is an excellent solution and provides the campus community not only with what is an academically sound decision … but also provides the community with some wonderful opportunities with performances in two portions of the campus,” Mason said.

While Regent President David Miles lauded UI officials’ involvement with the entire community, he requested they come before the regents at the end of April for an update on negotiations for property near the intersection of Clinton and Burlington Streets.

Mason said officials wanted Hancher to remain on the West Campus to retain its “very pastoral, very lovely location.” The rebuilt facility will be built higher than the floodplain.

Faculty and students have said a downtown music location would provide more accessibility to campus and more downtown exposure.

Though Benjamin Coelho, the associate director of undergraduate studies in the School of Music, said he’s sorry to see the facilities separated, the music school will be better able to “fulfill its academic mission.”

Matthew Wolf, a sophomore minoring in music, said he supports the downtown site for its convenience.

“[It’s] not so out of the way now … [this] ties the university together,” Wolf said.

But some uncertainties about the location remain. Part of the project study area is occupied by two banks.

If there are problems with the acquisition, UI officials have a backup plan, Mason said.

“Should we run into difficulties that cannot be solved with the East Side location, we are prepared to move back to the West Side and look again,” she said.

For now though, UI officials have approval to move ahead with negotiations for the proposed location.

Regent Robert Downer requested to abstain from discussion of the East Side site because of a stock ownership interest in the area. Mason, “in the interest of full disclosure,” also excluded herself from that portion, because she sits on the board of one of the banks located on the proposed site.

Though UI officials will return before the regents in April, Miles expressed his approval of the plans.

“These will be facilities that will last a long, long time and have a real impact on the whole community,” he said.

DI reporter Jordan Fries contributed to this report.

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