University of Iowa’s first round of public/private partnership funding distributed

The University of Iowa announced the distribution of $9.5 million from the public/private partnership for its utility system and the Office of the Provost Thursday morning, dedicated to student success and faculty retention initiatives.


Hayden Froehlich

The Old Capitol building is seen on Monday, Nov. 11, 2019.

Eleanor Hildebrandt, News Reporter

The University of Iowa distributed its first round of funding after the finalization of a $1.1 billion public/private partnership for its utility system in December 2019.

On Thursday, the university announced it will distribute the first $7.5 million of the investment revenue generated by the deal. The funding will go to supporting initiatives that “bolster student success and develop and retain faculty,” according to the release.

The release said funding these programs is key to the university’s success and ability to compete with peer universities.

“The university entered into the P3 so we could fund the strategic plan, which we couldn’t do without additional resources,” UI President Bruce Harreld said according to the news release. “These investments are the first step toward becoming a destination university that not only serves its home state but competes for the best students and faculty from across the nation and around the globe.”

The UI announced the deal between the university and French energy firms ENGIE and Meridiam for a 50-year agreement to operate and maintain its utility system during the 2019-20 academic year.

As previously reported by The Daily Iowan, the state Board of Regents is currently preparing to present arguments to the Iowa Supreme Court regarding the State Auditor Office’s request for more financial records on the  public/private partnership on Feb. 16. 

The court’s ruling will determine whether the board is allowed to block the State Auditor’s Office’s subpoena for the financial records of the $1.1 billion P3 deal. 

Alongside the one-time $7.5 million funding, the UI is investing $2 million from the Office of the Provost to help programs that assist students progress to graduation; support diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus; and improve faculty scholarship opportunities. 

According to the release, the $2 million is a resource “achieved through savings and conservative budget practices.” The funding intends to address the challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and issues related to social justice. 

All of the initiatives that will be supported by the public/private partnership and the Office of the Provost’s funding were identified by the UI Path Forward work groups. 

The UI Path Forward work groups have examined the university’s strengths and developed proposals for opportunities on campus, Harreld said in the release. 

The work groups were created in fall 2017 with the goal of advancing the UI’s Strategic Plan 2016-2021. The groups include shared governance members and campus leaders.

The UI Path Forward Steering Committee is finalizing criteria and is applying for funding from the fiscal year 2022 public/private partnership grants. 

The Committee is chaired by the UI’s Executive Vice President and Provost Kevin Kregel and Vice President for Research Marty Scholtz. 

The release did not set a timeline for the distribution of any other public/private partnership or Office of the Provost funding.