Upper Iowa University builds bigger and better during recession; completes first buildings in $75 million capital improvement project
Upper Iowa University cuts the ribbon to open the new Liberal Arts Building on the campus in Fayette.
UIU Board Chair Bob Firth addresses the crowd during the ceremonies to open two new buildings on the Fayette campus.
UIU President Alan G. Walker prepares to make the official first cut of the ribbon at South Village I, the new residence hall.
FAYETTE, Iowa (October 11, 2010) — Upper Iowa University has opened two multi-million-dollar buildings on campus. The buildings were completed as part of Phase I of its $75 million construction project here, the largest capital improvement project in the University’s history.
Ground was broken for the buildings in August 2009. Both the $8.6 million UIU Liberal Arts Building and $7.3 million South Village I, a suite-style residence hall, opened for use this semester when students returned to campus for the academic year.
“When times are challenging, many organizations don’t have the courage to take a leap of faith, but the UIU Board of Trustees showed that courage when they approved this capital improvement program at a time when most other colleges and universities were dealing with the recession,” said UIU President Alan G. Walker. “While many of those campuses are still struggling, we are bringing two buildings on line that strengthen student life and provide the best technology for teaching in beautiful, earth-friendly surroundings.”
“Our ability to invest in improving our University is a direct result of our educational delivery model,” Walker added. “Although we are rooted in our historic campus and the heritage we share because of our 153 years of operating a university in Fayette, Iowa, we have grown to truly become a global University. The strength of our campus here will benefit the entire breadth of UIU, all of its 17 educational centers in the United States, its three locations overseas, and the thousands of UIU students who take classes online and through independent study around the world.”
Walker noted that the first phase of the construction project continues on the Fayette campus, where a new student center is in the final stages and expected to open this winter. Another $1.9 million in campus enhancements, such as new entrances and signage, are also wrapping up.
“We have a commitment to strengthen our community as well as the University, and this stage includes a new building in downtown Fayette that will be finished this winter and that will house a new restaurant, coffee shop, lounge, and small retail shop,” Walker said. “We are investing in the economic development of Fayette as part of our strategic plan. Fayette has been our home for a long time, and ensuring that this town grows and thrives is important to the University, to our students, and to our neighbors.”
The downtown building is part of the Upper Iowa Business Development program, through which UIU awards grants each year to launch new businesses in the community.
Noting that “transformative moments” and “key partnerships” have helped to strengthen Upper Iowa University, Walker added, “You can be a part of history just by breathing or you can make history. We’re making history at UIU, and we’re just getting started.”
Also speaking at the ribbon-cutting ceremonies was Bob Firth, chair of the UIU Board. “When the Board approved this building project, we knew it was ambitious, we knew it would be a challenge,” Firth said. “But we also knew that this project is a key element of the future of this University. These buildings are the first of several planned buildings that will make this campus the equal of any private university in the Midwest.”
The next phase of the building project includes a science building, additional residence halls, and an e-center. Currently in the design stages, this phase of construction is expected to continue over the next five years.
Faculty and students also applauded the University for incorporating their input into the new buildings.
“The new Liberal Arts building is a prime example of the board and administration’s support of the faculty,” said Angie Leete, chair of the UIU faculty and assistant professor of athletic training. “The building is based on what the faculty wanted in an academic building and supports their 10-year strategic goals. As a result, the building is environmentally sensitive, incorporates state-of-the-art technology that is completely updatable as technology advances, supports our teaching methodologies today and has flexible classroom spaces to support us into the future, and is built to accommodate UIU’s anticipated growth – with extra classrooms and extra faculty offices – so that we don’t outgrow the building shortly after we move in.”
“Part of what makes the new residence hall special is that students got to have a voice in it,” added UIU Student Government Association President Justin Marchant. “The University brought in choices of furniture – beds, chairs, desks – that students could try out and vote on; and now the students’ favorites are actually the furniture being used in the residence hall.”
Features of the Liberal Arts building include computer labs, an office for the UIU student newspaper, classrooms, faculty offices, and a large auditorium. The building also houses the latest in higher education technology for both faculty and students to enhance instruction and learning. The unique building includes a raised floor system to keep cables, wiring, and pipes underneath; and a “chilled-sail technology” for heating and cooling.
Features of South Village I include a variety of suite-style arrangements to accommodate up to five students in one suite with a living room and bath for each suite. Common spaces in the building include computer labs, a meeting room, a study hall, lounge, laundries, and kitchens. South Village I is capable of handling the advanced technology students bring to campus, including wireless access for laptops, cable TV, and internet-protocol phones. The residence hall will accommodate 90 students.
Although not all future UIU buildings will include the “chilled sail,” geothermal technology will be part of every new building, said Bryan Jolley, UIU director of facilities. “We installed geothermal wells 350-feet deep employing a heat pump to warm or cool air by utilizing the constant temperature of the earth,” he explained. “The systems are cost-effective, ‘green,’ and much better for the environment.”
Other “gentle-on-the-earth” features include the use of sustainable construction materials – such as polished concrete and repurposed barn wood -- most brought in from within a 500-mile radius of Fayette, Jolley added. “Daylighting” is incorporated throughout the buildings, with a window ring above the second floor to provide direct light and reduce energy consumption. The Liberal Arts building even uses blackboards rather than whiteboards in the classrooms to reduce use of chemicals inside the buildings.
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About Upper Iowa University
Founded in 1857, Upper Iowa University is a private, not-for-profit university providing undergraduate and graduate degree programs and leadership development opportunities to over 6,600 students—nationally and internationally—at its Fayette campus and learning centers worldwide. Upper Iowa University is a recognized innovator in offering accredited, quality programs through flexible, multiple delivery systems, including online and independent study. For more information, visit www.uiu.edu.