AIB move raises concerns


DES MOINES — Iowa legislators still have questions on the conversion of AIB College of Business into a Regional Regents Center to be owned and operated by the University of Iowa.

UI President Sally Mason and Chris Costa, the head of the AIB Board of Trustees, attended an Iowa House Appropriations Committee meeting on Monday, during which they assured legislators there would be no impact on the state’s budget in addition to clarifying what will happen in regards to students currently attending the college.

“We ask [the UI] to work with [AIB] students,” Committee head Rep. Chuck Soderberg, R-Le Mars, said.They’re in limbo … you need to keep them educated and keep us educated as well.”

Last week at the state Board of Regents meeting in Cedar Falls, Mason announced that the private AIB would not become a Des Moines campus for the UI, as had been previously announced.

Instead, the college will become a Regional Regents Center, which will allow students to enroll in not just the UI but also at Iowa State University, the University of Northern Iowa, and any other colleges that would like to participate.

Mason said the center will be self-sufficient and not use on state dollars. Currently, the college is $1.4 million in debt, but Costa said that debt will zero out with student tuition and assets.

“I think we have to be very mindful of any liabilities that come along with requiring new buildings, new infrastructure on campus,” said Rep. Chris Hall, D-Sioux City. “Anytime the state picks up new commitments, we need to be very prudent on how they’re managed.”

The college sits on 20 acres of land, and an estimated appraisal of the property is to be valued at $30 million to $40 million.

In addition, AIB tuition is more than the UI’S, and Mason said because of the tuition change, more students will need to enroll at the center to make up for any possible loss.

Mason said she hopes to double the enrollment in the college.

Rep. Cecil Dolecheck, R-Mount Ayr, said he is concerned about scholarships.

He said it would be the Legislature’s job to continue looking at the numbers, especially in regards to scholarships, because those who are receiving scholarships at AIB are getting it through private funds rather than through the state.

Although there is no concrete plan as to what majors will be offered, Mason said she hopes to expand on courses for the medical school in addition to business classes.

“I know there’s some courses that quite possibly may not be able to continue, so there will be some students that are going to have to change their major if they can’t get that major through them,” Dolecheck said.

He said he is concerned about whether students would have to spend more time and money if they have to change their major because of the merger.

Originally, the roughly 1,000 AIB students were to be converted to UI students. Because of the regents’ new performance-based funding model, which ties a significant portion of state funding to the number of resident students, the UI has tried to expand in-state enrollment.

Instead, however, AIB students who wish to enroll in the UI will have to enter as transfer students.

“We will listen to community and respond to those pleas,” Mason said. “Students who wish to transfer will receive the same attention as someone who transfers to Iowa.”

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