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Pharmacy building project moves forward

BY CHRIS HIGGINS | OCTOBER 24, 2014 5:00 AM

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A new University of Iowa pharmacy building is all but certain following the latest state Board of Regents meeting.

The regents approved the UI’s project description and budget for the new building during their meeting Thursday in Iowa City.

The final budget rings in at $96.3 million, to be paid through state appropriations, College of Pharmacy gifts and earnings, treasurer’s temporary investment income, and indirect cost recoveries.

“The building itself will create a state-of-the-art practice facility for the teaching and training of the future pharmacists in the state of Iowa,” said Rod Lehnertz, the director of planning, design, and construction for UI Facilities Management.

The current pharmacy building was constructed in 1961, with an expansion in 1996. Only the expansion will remain.

The rest of the building will be demolished and the new facility will be constructed at the site of Quadrangle Hall, also due for demolition.

Construction is meant to start in the spring of 2016.

Pharmacy students have called the current building cramped, outdated, and in much need of replacement, and they said students struggle to even find places to study.

“We, as students, see the real needs for the new building,” said Alyssa Billmeyer, a pharmacy student and the president of the Graduate and Professional Student Council. “Every day, we try to work with what we have, and it’s just not cutting it anymore.”

The project has not been without some hitches. It is heavily dependent on legislative funding in the form of a four-year $64.3 million plan, which was denied during the last legislative session.

However, UI officials have expressed confidence funding will be approved at the next session, citing Gov. Terry Branstad’s enthusiasm for the project.

Officials needed to persuade the legislature to give a few million dollars in planning funds as well.
The UI College of Pharmacy is the only public pharmacy program in the state. However, it has faced declining enrollment and faculty numbers in recent years.

The Pharmacy Building was found to be the least energy-efficient on campus by the UI Energy Center.

Although Billmeyer will have graduated by the time construction is complete, she is hopeful about that future students will benefit.

“I can’t stop talking about how awesome it is,” she said. “We’re just very pleased this is able to happen.”


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