Guest Opinion: Private-public partnership a good fit for the University of Iowa

The Council of Deans supports the proposed P3 plan for the University's utility system.

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Guest Opinion: Private-public partnership a good fit for the University of Iowa

The Old Capitol is seen on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018.

The Old Capitol is seen on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018.

Lily Smith

The Old Capitol is seen on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018.

Lily Smith

Lily Smith

The Old Capitol is seen on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018.


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The University of Iowa is exploring a potential private-public partnership for its utility system that may be a once-in-a-generation opportunity to advance the state of Iowa through strategically investing in its future. Exploring a P3 of this magnitude is very significant for our campus, so we greatly appreciate how the UI community, through its shared governance channels, has ensured a robust participation surrounding the exploration of this opportunity. Active and engaged dialogue is necessary to ensure that the university pursues a strategic direction aligned with our academic vision that is beneficial for our campus and for the state. As the academic council of deans, we strongly encourage the university to continue exploring this P3 opportunity with due diligence and through shared governance.

As you are aware, public higher-education institutions in Iowa, and across the country, are facing significant demographic changes that continue to increase budgetary pressures and erode the quality of educational options for students. We must remain committed to adding value through our core academic mission of teaching, research, and engagement, but we must also have the necessary resources to realize our vision. The revenue from this P3, when added to the support provided by the state, can help us to increase graduation rates, reduce the time to complete a degree, and improve lives through research discoveries. We must build on the excellence of our university to benefit Iowa’s students and its economy.

In the next few weeks, we will know if going ahead with a formal request for bids from potential private partners for a P3 makes sense for the university. Working together, and supporting new strategic partnerships that work for our campus, will allow us to become an institution of first choice, a destination university, for students, faculty, and staff — the people of Iowa deserve nothing less.

— Council of Deans

Daniel Clay, John Culshaw, Sarah Gardial, Stephen Goddard, J. Brooks Jackson, David Johnsen, John Keller, Donald Letendre, Edith Parker, Alec Scranton, Downing Thomas, Tanya Uden-Holman, Kevin Washburn, Julie Zerwic