UI requests funding for pharmacy building


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University of Iowa officials said Tuesday they continue to set their sights on a new College of Pharmacy building for the fast-developing West Campus area.

A request to fund planning for the structure was vetoed by Gov. Terry Branstad during the summer.

At an afternoon state Board of Regents meeting in Cedar Falls, several UI officials took the time to discuss some of the unanswered questions about the proposed facility’s still-tentative plans.

UI Provost P. Barry Butler and Rod Lehnertz, director of planning, design, and construction for UI Facilities Management, outlined projected costs, details, and plans for a new Pharmacy Building to the regents’ Planning and Facilities Committee.

The new facility, set to be located to the east of the 1996 pharmacy tower addition, would sit roughly on the site of the Quadrangle Residence Hall.

The building was constructed in the 1960s, and now, the pharmacy complex also includes a wing that was added several years later. Complete with two lecture-style classrooms, with the capability to hold 124 seats in each, typical class sizes run 108 to 110 students. Last year, the UI requested that the regents recommend to the Legislature $6 million be approved for planning of the new building’s construction. While the regents approved the request, the Legislature appropriated only $3 million.

In June, the project hit an additional snag when Branstad vetoed the $3 million.

At the time, while Regent President Bruce Rastetter commended Branstad for approving a $2 million allocation for the UI Entrepreneurship Initiative and $1 million for a multipurpose training facility at the State Hygienic Laboratory, he was disappointed by the lack of approval on several other fronts.

 “… The board is disappointed that funds necessary for the planning and design for the highest priority academic capital projects, which are central to the specific missions of each university, were not approved,” Rastetter said in June.

Lehnertz and UI spokesman Tom Moore both said that prior to the current proposal presentation, they had been worked more closely with the regents.

They plan to be ready for next year’s Legislative session, they said.  

Lehnertz said the $6 million should cover most of the planning and design costs for the project.

“The project schedule in general is based on the assumption that the new residence hall, which is under construction, will be complete, and that will allow for us to take the Quadrangle Residence Hall … and place the Pharmacy Building on that site,” Lehnertz said.

The report stressed the importance of the project.

“It does not meet the educational needs of the 21st century,” Butler said, referencing what he called the facility’s small isolated spaces, and low ceiling heights.

“It just doesn’t permit itself to be used in the learning environment that it’s expected. The conditions in this building, intended to be a state-of-the-art facility, but [it is] one that is lacking even the basic needs for research and teaching.”

According to a report in fiscal 2009, the Pharmacy Building consumes more energy per square foot than any other building on campus, and its consumption totals more than all the buildings on the Pentacrest.

“The age, condition, configuration and outdated mechanical and electrical systems of the original building are constant strains on the quality and productivity of the college’s faculty and students,” Moore wrote in an email.

Butler also noted in the presentation that more than half of Iowa’s pharmacists come from the UI program, and UI graduate pharmacists are located in 95 of the 99 Iowa counties.

With the high demand, number of students, and limited space, Butler said he believes it is amazing that the college does so well. He said the program will continue to grow, but not without a new facility.

A re-proposal of sorts should go before an anticipated presentation to Regents at today’s meeting, also set to be held in Cedar Falls.

“[The proposal] also will allow for enrollment growth,” Butler said. “We grew a little bit a few years ago, and as you can see from these pictures, it’s just not possible to go beyond that.”

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