MU renovations and CYTown parking improvements: Board of Regents rundown


Screenshot courtesy of the Iowa Board of Regents YouTube channel

The Iowa Board of Regents during their Nov. 9 meeting.

The Board of Regents unanimously approved Iowa State University’s $6.55 million project for Memorial Union remodels and a $28.5 million project for CYTown parking and infrastructure improvements.

CYTown parking improvements

Iowa State’s Interim Senior Vice President for Operations and Finance, Heather Paris, said parking improvements would address much-needed improvements to the parking lots between the Iowa State Center and Jack Trice Stadium.

“The improvements are needed to provide a positive and safe experience for the 2,000 students and employees who commute to campus on a daily basis and the more than 1 million visitors who park in these lots annually,” Paris said.

Paris said the proposed project includes replacement parking, new lighting for 1,700 out of the 2,850 proposed parking stalls and infrastructure improvements for future development.

As a result of the lot improvements, Paris said the CyRide transit hub would be relocated, and a portion of the site would be elevated above the 100-year flood plain of the Ioway Creek.

“While not specific to this proposal, I would like to note that we’re working with ISU Facilities Planning and Management staff, civil engineers, the Iowa DNR and the City of Ames on flood mitigation strategies related to future development on this site,” Paris said. “We want to be proactive in studying and minimizing any potential impact on nearby neighborhoods, as well as university facilities.”

Paris said funding for the CYTown parking improvements would come from the Iowa State athletics department, university investment income and private donations.

Construction on the improvements is set to begin in the spring of 2023 and will be completed in the fall of 2024.

Memorial Union renovations

The remodels are coming to both the second and third floors of the Memorial Union. Paris told the board that the university plans to remodel 5,000 square feet from the second floor and 12,000 square feet from the third floor.

Paris said the second-floor remodels will open up the Colonel Pride Veterans’ Lounge to the main east-west corridor. Paris added the university plans to add flexible seating and lighting and raise the ceilings.

“We really envision that it would become a larger, more attractive space for students to meet, dine and study, using our existing food services,” Paris said. “This project would begin next summer, and run through the winter of 2024, and would be funded by Memorial Union funds.”

Paris said the university would renovate space vacated on the third floor of the Memorial Union by the Student Services Offices that were moved to the fourth, fifth and sixth floors.

“It will create two suites with offices, a student lounge and study rooms for our Multicultural Student Affairs and Student Support Services,” Paris said. “Both of those programs currently operate out of undersized areas in our Student Services Building, so this project would give them much-needed space.”

The renovations for both floors are projected to be completed at the same time, Paris said.

Institutional head report

Wendy Wintersteen, president of Iowa State University, began her report to the board by highlighting the university’s new telecounseling service in partnership with the Virtual Care Group.

Wintersteen said the program will be available 24/7 and will be provided in addition to services already provided through the Thielen Student Health Center.

“We all know that mental health is a concern for students; we’ve been talking about this in numerous meetings and discussions, and of course, Iowa state is no different,” Wintersteen said. “So, it’s a key priority for us to try a new approach, and we think that this mental telecounseling approach will truly make a difference for our students.”

Wintersteen also updated the regents on Iowa State Online, Iowa State’s campus-wide effort to restructure online education into a single unit.

“It’s a seamless, integrated unit that will result in the economy of skill, consistent brand and quality standards for course design and delivery, and new program and development strategies to better serve all of our students,” Wintersteen said.

Iowa State Online will launch in January as one of the initial projects under the new strategic plan. Wintersteen said this approach would allow Iowa State to pursue new opportunities in online education and help professionals develop skills to meet the needs of Iowa employers.

Wintersteen also highlighted some of the various projects within the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem at Iowa State. She said Iowa State was one of three universities to receive the Innovation and Economic Prosperity Award from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities Sunday.

“Our Start Something network is a campus-wide effort to package together our growing portfolio of academic courses and activities offered in every undergraduate college and through the Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship, all being related to innovation and entrepreneurship,” Wintersteen said.

Wintersteen said Iowa State also recently launched a new central website for students to explore what is available and how they can participate in the Start Something program.

Annual security and fire safety report

Iowa State University Police Chief, Michael Newton, presented Iowa State’s Annual Security and Fire Safety Report to the regents, saying that the reported sexual assaults at Iowa State have increased, adding that part of the reason is that victims feel more comfortable coming forward with their assaults.

“I meet with our student newspaper and our Student Government folks to kind of talk about this is a good thing — we want people to come forward,” Newton said. “Now we want it to stop too, right, we want to have prevention efforts, we want to have those pieces in place, but if it does happen, we want people to come forward and talk with us.”

Newton said the police department would continue to partner with bystander intervention initiatives like Green Dot to further lower the trend of sexual assaults committed on campus.

Newton said burglaries on campus have gone up significantly but added that most of the reports were from one individual who had burglarized several classrooms on campus.

“He [the burglar] is almost attributed to all of our burglaries that we had in there,” Newton said.

The fire and safety report is available to the public and can be found on the Iowa State Police’s website.

Property sale and purchase

The regents also moved to approve Iowa State’s request to sell six acres of land, including five buildings, to Frontline Bioenergy for $1.2 million.

The land was purchased in 1998 and was originally used by the Iowa Energy Center as a biomass energy conversion beacon facility, Paris said. The building was closed in 2018 and was leased in 2019 to the ISU Research Park, which then subleased the building to Frontline Bioenergy.

“So the university and ISU Research Park have no future need for the property, and Frontline Bioenergy wishes to acquire the property for their continued research and business development,” Paris said.

The regents also approved Iowa State’s requested purchase of 22.83 acres of farmland for $337,175.

“The property is located three miles southwest of our central campus, and it will be used for the benefit of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and it’s specifically adjacent to land owned and operated by the student-managed AG 450 farm,” Paris said.

Paris said the land would benefit roughly 130 students yearly.

Economic and technology transfer report

Dean of the Ivy College of Business, David Spalding, reported on Iowa State’s economic development. He said Iowa State’s economic development activity extends to all 99 counties with the goal of enhancing economic growth and economic opportunities for the state of Iowa.

“Over the last four years, we’ve really shifted our efforts to create corporate engagement teams and these corporate engagement teams reach out to companies to bring the full range of capabilities here at Iowa State University to those companies and look to enhance our relationships with them,” Spalding said.