The University of Iowa has awarded eight interdisciplinary projects with $15 million in funding generated by the public-private partnership (P3) with its utility system.
The approved projects were selected through a two-stage process. Thirty-three preliminary applications were submitted in response to a campuswide call in September 2021, and eight were invited by the university’s Strategy Team to submit full proposals. In March, the Strategy Team participated in an in-depth vetting of the eight applications and all eight were recommended for funding to President Barbara Wilson.
Wilson approved the eight projects and the P3 board approved the $15 million funding allocation at its May meeting.
“The selection of these eight projects was an iterative process with guidance and input from a diverse group of campus leaders and content experts,” says Executive Vice President and Provost Kevin Kregel. “We are confident these projects will advance the strategic priorities of the university in areas associated with student success, research and discovery, and faculty and staff recruitment and retention.”
This was the third round of grants from P3 funds awarded to campus projects. In FY2022, seven projects totaling more than $12 million were funded (Year 1 funding), and in FY2021 there was a one-time $7.5 million grant to support student retention and success and improve faculty research opportunities (Year 0 funding). P3 funds are nonrecurring funds generated by the public-private partnership with the university’s utility system and can be requested for a one- to three-year time period.
The approved projects are:
- Pathways to Success: Ensuring High Quality Career Development for Every Hawkeye: This project, sponsored by the Pomerantz Career Center in collaboration with the Center for Inclusive Academic Excellence, the Office of Student Financial Aid, Academic Support and Retention, and others, will enable the development of a technological solution for engaging students in ongoing and personalized career development, including career advice and career planning assistance. Approved funding: $407,040 over three years; led by Matthew Augeri, senior associate director, Academic and Leadership Programs, Pomerantz Career Center.
- External Job Placement Services for Partners of Recruited Faculty and Select Senior-Level Staff: This project, sponsored by University Human Resources, will contribute to recruitment and retention of faculty and staff who support the university’s strategic initiatives. Approved funding: $315,000 over three years; led by Keith Becker, senior director, Talent Acquisition, University Human Resources.
- Midwest FLASH Lab: Developing Next-Generation Radiotherapy Delivery and Expertise at the UI: This interdisciplinary project, sponsored by the Carver College of Medicine in collaboration with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) and College of Engineering, will establish the Midwest FLASH Lab, which will make the UI a destination for ultra-high dose-rate radiation therapy (FLASH) science and training in the U.S. Approved funding: $3 million over three years; led by John Buatti, professor and chair, Department of Radiation Oncology, Carver College of Medicine.
- High Impact Hiring Initiative: A program to Strategically Recruit and Retain Talented Faculty: This project, sponsored by all 13 colleges and academic units, will continue a program launched in March 2021 that provided funds toward the strategic hiring and retention of high-performing faculty across several colleges. To date, the success of the program has had measurable impact across all strategic priority areas of the university. Approved funding: $7.5 million over two years; led by the Council of Deans.
- Higher Education Mental Health: This project, sponsored by the College of Education in collaboration with CLAS, the Division of Student Life, and Office of the Provost, will develop a comprehensive program to address mental health issues for students, faculty, and staff in order to decrease levels of distress and facilitate success. Approved funding: $700,000 over three years; led by Dan Clay, dean, College of Education.
- Support for Mid-Career Faculty: This project, sponsored by the Office of the Provost, CLAS, Carver College of Medicine, and the Office of the Vice President for Research, will provide select tenured associate professors with tailored career development support to propel them toward promotion to full professor. Approved funding: $2 million over three years; led by Lois Geist, associate provost for faculty, Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost.
- Excellence in Teaching and Learning: Development of a Set of Effective Strategies for Course Curriculum Innovation: This project, sponsored by the Office of the Provost, will build on the success of the Hawkeye Introductory Course project, which was initially funded during Year 0 and led by Cornelia Lang (CLAS), to help students across all undergraduate colleges complete the courses they need to persist in their education and graduate. Approved funding: $477,960 over two years; led by Tanya Uden-Holman, associate provost for undergraduate education and dean, University College.
- Redox Regulation of Immunological Responses During Cancer Therapy Using Novel Redox Active Molecule Approaches that Both Enhance Anti-Tumor Immune Responses and Limit Normal Tissue Injury: This project, sponsored by the Graduate College in collaboration with the College of Public Health, CLAS, and the Carver College of Medicine, will enable the development of a new National Cancer Institute grant in early-stage lung cancer treatment and a clinical trial to examine the impact of pharmacological ascorbate combined with immunotherapy for the first time. Approved funding: $600,000 over two years; led by Steve Varga, professor of microbiology and immunology, Carver College of Medicine, and associate dean, Graduate College.
Nearly $1 billion in funding from the university’s 50-year partnership with ENGIE North America and Meridiam to operate the utility system was placed in an endowment in 2020. Earnings from the endowment will allow the university to invest about $15 million per fiscal year via grants dedicated to supporting the UI’s strategic plan and core missions of teaching, research, and scholarship.