Hawks move west


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The University of Iowa will now expand down Interstate 80, as the AIB College of Business will soon become the University of Iowa Des Moines campus.

The Daily Iowan met with UI President Sally Mason on Monday for a monthly Q&A in which she disclosed the plan briefly before it was officially announced during a press conference on the AIB campus.

Mason said the transition process will take roughly a year, but an integration team will be established immediately.

The AIB College of Business was founded in 1921 as a school that provides a variety of business programs. In 1941, the campus became a nonprofit, and in 1972, the campus moved to its current location at 2500 Fleur Drive, according to a news release. Fall 2014 enrollment was roughly 1,014 students.

There have only been three presidents of the college: Nancy Williams, the current president, and her grandfather and father.

Mason said the college will continue its business programs primarily, but she hopes to see expansion in the future to other UI programs.

“So we’re going to continue the business programs over there for sure, and then we’re going to talk about how we can expand our program offerings over in the Des Moines area,” Mason told the DI. So I am very excited. I think this is a wonderful, wonderful opportunity for both of us. It’s I think unique, I certainly don’t know of anything like this that’s happened in Iowa before, where you’ve had a small private institution that merges with a large public institution.”

Mason said during a media availability this month that accepted student enrollment increased 9 percent, and while construction and recovery is still ongoing, opportunities such as these are ideal.

“One of the great things about the AIB merger is that that’s a fully fleshed-out campus with housing, and so adding students there is even easier than adding more students here while we’re still building residence halls,” Mason told the DI.

Tuition at the college is roughly $18,000; however, with scholarships, Williams said it tends to be closer to $11,000. Tuition was frozen on campus for 30 years until this year, when AIB became a four-year program.

The residence halls on campus house roughly 500 students, but Williams said during the press conference that campus could be repurposed to grow and change around the area.

Reactions on the AIB campus regarding changes have been generally positive.

John Thompson, third-year senior at AIB, said as long as the campus maintains its brand, it would be good for everyone.

“The only concern some of us have is the value of the AIB degree, having a degree from a defunct college, and how to address the merger on a résumé, but we have a great career-services department, so hopefully, it won’t be a problem,” Thompson wrote in an email.

Ann Wright, an associate professor and the head of the business-administration program at AIB, said she looks forward to the opportunities the merger will bring.

“With all changes come opportunities and challenges, but mostly opportunities,” she said. “I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for faculty at both AIB and the University of Iowa.”

Mason said the goal is the incoming fall 2015 class will convert to being UI students, as many have already been admitted to the program and most if not all of the changes will be made by 2016.

And while most students will likely not commute back and forth to both campuses, Mason said, they are going to look at the full range of things the UI already does, and see what they can incorporate in the future to the UI Des Moines campus.

“You are the eagles, we are the Hawks, and today we get to fly together,” Mason said.

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