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Regents recommend new majors, Vet Med expansion

The Board of Regents elected a new president and president pro tem.
Jay Waagmeester
Mark Braun, executive director of the Iowa Board of Regents and Regents Sherry Bates and Greta Rouse participate in a meeting at the Alumni Center on April 24, 2024.

The Iowa Board of Regents Academics Affairs Committee recommended the approval of a master’s degree in digital health and a bachelor’s in sports media and communication to be voted on during its Thursday meeting. 

The Property and Facilities Committee also recommended the approval of project planning for an addition to the Lloyd Veterinary Medical Center Large Animal Hospital and for two new air handling units in Kildee Hall. 

New degrees

The master’s degree in digital health was recommended to the full Board of Regents on Wednesday by the Academics Affairs Committee. The program will be housed in the College of Human Sciences and will address the intersection of health care, technology and data analytics, according to the proposal document. 

All programs for digital health are offered through Iowa State Online. The enrollment for the program is anticipated to be 35 in year one and 100 by year four. 

Ann Marie VanderZanden, associate provost for academic programs, said the program is “central to our land grant mission, specifically serving rural Iowans who may not have access to nearby health care services.”

The Academic Affairs Committee also recommended approval of a bachelor’s program in sports media and communication. The board will vote on the matter Thursday as part of its consent agenda. The program will be offered through the Greenlee School of Journalism in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. 

The program is anticipated to have 100 students enrolled in the first year, 20 in the major and 80 not in the major. By year five, the projected enrollment is 200, with 100 in the program and 100 not in the program. 

“Among private universities, Simpson College and Upper Iowa university offer sports communication degrees, but these appear to be more limited in scope to only journalistic applications,” VanderZanden said. She also noted the University of Iowa and Northern Iowa have related programs, but not identical. 

The degree will teach skills in social media listening and data analytics, digital branding, live streaming and play-by-play announcing, in part by leveraging relationships within the athletic department, according to the proposal document. 

Both degrees have estimated start dates of fall 2024. 

Capital improvements

The university requested approval for the proposed project description and budget for a Ward 3 expansion at the Lloyd Veterinary Medical Center Large Animal Hospital. The matter was recommended to be approved by the full board as part of the consent agenda. 

The project budget is $9.2 million, will add 17,000 square feet and will be funded by College of Veterinary Medicine funds. 

The addition will increase large animal reproductive services in Iowa and support the growth of obstetrics and theriogenology, according to regent documents

The project will accommodate the eight professionals specializing in equine surgery and horse and cattle theriogenologists at the College of Veterinary Medicine. 

Construction will begin in spring 2025 and finish in summer 2026. 

Iowa State requested approval for the project description and budget to tend to deferred maintenance in Kildee Hall, and the Property and Facilities Committee recommended that the board approve the description and budget for the project. 

Regents Nancy Dunkel, David Barker and Jim Lindenmayer participate in a Board of Regents meeting at the Alumni Center on April 24, 2024. (Jay Waagmeester)

The project budget is $2.1 million and will eliminate $1.5 million in building renewal costs, according to regent documents

The project will replace two air handling units serving large portions of Kildee, constructed in 1965.

The university requested the investment, citing more energy efficiency and cost-savings and an increase in reliability in the heating and cooling of the building. 

“Analysis revealed that both air handling units required frequent repairs, and had pending expensive repairs that were just not justifiable,” Paris said. “Replacing these units will result in a more energy efficient and cost effective HVAC system enhancing heating and cooling reliability and improve satisfaction for our students, faculty and staff.”

The construction will begin in spring 2025 and complete in summer 2026. Funds will be sourced from the university facilities’ overhead use fund. 

This is the second phase of the project, addressing deferred maintenance on the aid handling units in the building, with two more phases planned. 

The board approved Mary Sirna as the director of equal opportunity. Sirna will make $180,000 per year and begin in the position March 25. The position opened in August when Carl Wells, the former director, departed the university. Sirna was appointed as interim after Wells’ departure. 

Rita Case, the director of the Military-Affiliated Student Center provided information at Wednesday’s meeting on veteran-related programming and services. 

The board received the 2024 free speech survey results, which the Daily broke down last week

The board approved Regent Sherry Bates to serve as the president. The term will last two years. Bates was elected to the role in February, finishing out the term that Regent Mike Richards was elected for. 

Bates graduated from Iowa State in 1974 and was a career social worker and has served on the board since 2014. 

Regent Greta Rouse was voted to serve as the president pro tempore, a role she also served in for two months, finishing out Bates’ term after she was elected president. 

Rouse is in her second stint on the board after serving as a student regent from 2008-2012. She has been on the board since 2021 for this stint.

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