UI reverses AIB College of Business plans


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CEDAR FALLS — The University of Iowa will not have a campus in Des Moines after all, even though officials had previously announced the AIB College of Business would become just that.
Instead, UI President Sally Mason told the state Board of Regents on Thursday, AIB would be transformed into what would be called the Regional Regents Center.

“The [UI] will assume ownership of the facility and then rent space to the other two [regent universities], is how I would anticipate the agreement coming forward,” Regent President Bruce Rastetter said in a press conference following the regents’ meeting.

AIB plans to stop teaching students on June 30, 2016, and UI programming will begin on July 1.

Mason said, this way, the accreditation of both universities would avoid jeopardy.

“One of the things we consistently hear from the Des Moines business community is the interest in the courses and offerings from the three public universities, in particular the UI business school,” Rastetter said. “I think this is a great opportunity, with the gift from AIB, for the regents’ system to be able to accomplish that in Des Moines and in Iowa’s largest metropolitan area and growth area.”

Because it will be a regents’ center, not all students who will study there will necessarily factor into the UI’s enrollment numbers. Mason said some students might be enrolled through Iowa State University, University of Northern Iowa, or other interested schools.

“They’ll be [UI] students, some of them; some of them may be other students but not starting until 2016,” Mason said. “The invitation is open to any and all comers, but I include my sister institutions because they’re obvious partners in this endeavor going forward.”

Originally, it was predicted the college’s roughly 1,000 students would be converted into UI students. The UI is working to expand in-state enrollment in light of the regents’ new funding model, which ties a significant portion of state appropriations to the number of resident students.

The UI stands to lose $12.9 million in the model’s first year.

The funding model is subject to the Iowa Legislature’s approval.

Rastetter said that, from his understanding, the UI would own and operate the center but would potentially rent space to ISU and the UNI in which they could also potentially offer courses.

ISU President Steven Leath and UNI President William Ruud said their institutions would most likely be interested in hosting programming at the regents’ center.

The public first heard AIB — comprising 17 campus buildings and 20 acres of land near downtown Des Moines — would be gifted to the UI during a press conference at the business college on Jan. 26, but several questions remained.

A Thursday press release announced that AIB will not admit a freshman class for the 2015-16 school year; the school’s final graduation will occur in June 2016.

All athletics programs will end in May and “softball, baseball, and golf teams will complete their 2015 spring competition as scheduled.”

The athletes were also told their scholarships would be honored through June 2016.

During a press availability at the meeting, Mason was asked if the UI was interested in having athletics in Des Moines.

“I’m really not interested in another set of Hawkeyes,” she said. “I love my Hawkeyes.”

According to the release, AIB students who wish to switch to the UI will have to meet its admission standards for transfer students.

“We’ll have a better answer to that question over the coming weeks as we start to talk with them and advise them,” Mason said.

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