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Thursday, October 22, 2020

Though the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the grant process for distributing funds generated by the University of Iowa’s utility public-private partnership (P3), the group established to manage the campus use of funds from the P3 proceeds is ready to return to the process and soon will announce how members of campus can apply.

The UI Path Forward Steering Committee, co-chaired by Interim Executive Vice President and Provost Kevin Kregel and Vice President for Research Marty Scholtz, is finalizing the criteria and process for applying for the first round of grants; the criteria will be released to campus later this semester.

Grants can last up to five years, and anyone from the UI campus community will be able to apply as long as the proposed project supports the UI strategic plan. By distributing the resources as grants, the UI will be able to maximize the impact of the money while ensuring the long-term sustainability of the fund.

“It is no secret that public, four-year higher education is and will be facing significant challenges over the next decade,” says Kregel. “Investment in the success of students, faculty, and staff will position the UI to succeed in the face of challenges such as demographic shifts in the Midwest and Northeast. Cementing the UI as a destination university—a university that is the first choice for students, faculty, and staff—will be crucial to a bright future.”

Since the commercial close of the P3 in December 2019 and the financial close in March 2020, the market value of the investment fund has increased, and the UI Strategic Initiatives Fund (UISIF)—the independent nonprofit (501(c)(3)) group created to monitor, manage, and disperse funds—in February began meeting to review the operation and earnings of the endowment fund.

The UISIF, which meets quarterly,  is managed by three board members:

  • Regent Nancy Boettger, appointed by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa
  • Tom Reitz, professor of finance and departmental executive officer in the Tippie College of Business, a UI faculty member appointed by Faculty Senate to serve a four-year term
  • Rod Lehnertz, UI senior vice president for finance and operations

Based on guidance from the fund’s financial advisors, Marquette Associates, the UISIF board approved a deliberate and systematic process for investing the proceeds. The net proceeds, after defeasance of the outstanding utility system bonds, was $985.88 million. 

As of Aug. 31, 2020, the market value of the investment increased to $1.056 billion, or about 7.2%, since the investment process began in March 2020.