Kirkwood, UI partnership will ease college transition process


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A new community-college facility on the University of Iowa campus isn’t likely the first in the nation, but local leaders say it’s a positive move for Iowa.

Kirkwood Community College officials are moving forward with plans to build a multimillion-dollar building on the UI Oakdale Campus. Students enrolled at Kirkwood will able to take classes on the campus near Coralville.

Experts said the partnership will be beneficial to students because it will make the transition from community college more smooth, while allowing each education center to conserve resources.

“It is notable. It is definitely the first in Iowa and the first possibly in the Midwest,” said Steve Carpenter, the Kirkwood print services director.

Michael Allen, a leader at the American Association of Community Colleges, said having a community college on a four-year university’s campus would be beneficial for both students and faculty.

“There is an opportunity to develop a synergy between the faculty and students of the four-year and two-year institutions,” Allen said. “It allows the two to share resources, which is important, especially in these economic times.”

He did not believe this is the first time a community college has shared a campus with a four-year university. However, he was unable to provide examples of campuses where this has been the case.

Plans for the facility are on hold until results of a Sept. 13 ballot referendum are known. The two main goals of the bond referendum, if approved, are to renovate Linn Hall on Kirkwood’s main campus in Cedar Rapids, and construct three new regional, educational centers in Cedar Rapids and Washington County and on the UI Oakdale Campus. Voters in 18 counties — including Johnson and Linn — will cast ballots on the measure.

A final price for the project — which will take several years to complete — has not been determined, but the bond referendum calls for $46.5 million over a 15-year period for construction and renovation to new and old campuses.

UI Vice President for Research Jordan Cohen said the university has worked with Kirkwood for well over a year, and officials from both institutions, as well as the Iowa City School District, are excited to work together.

“We think it’s a natural linkage, especially as education continues to develop,” Cohen said.

He acknowledged that the Oakdale location would increase accessibility for both Kirkwood and UI students.

“[Oakdale] is almost equally positioned between Kirkwood and the main campus,” Cohen said. “We think it’s a really good position.”

The Oakdale center would contain approximately 60,000 square feet, almost twice the size of the Kirkwood’s Jones Regional Center in Monticello which it will be modeled after, Carpenter said.

The center in Monticello provides services for an estimated 240 students from eight different schools. With commitments from numerous schools, Kirkwood officials said they’re confident the large space will be well-used.

Cohen said a center at the Oakdale campus will be a learning experience for students majoring in education.

“It will be a great opportunity for our schools in the College of Education to be part of new ways to deliver education,” he said.

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