Board of Regents scheduled to vote on project at June meeting
Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Editor's note: The Board of Regents, State of Iowa, approved the project description and budget for the new Health Sciences Academic Building at its June 14 meeting.

The Board of Regents, State of Iowa, will consider approval of the project description and budget for the University of Iowa’s proposed new Health Sciences Academic Building when it meets June 13—14 in Iowa City.

If approved, the new six-level building would be built south of Slater Residence Hall and west of Grand Avenue Court, adjacent to the Gerdin Athletic Learning Center.

It is a key project that will make room for the UI Hospitals & Clinics’ new inpatient tower and will contribute to student success at Iowa by providing state-of-the-art learning space and allowing for future growth in three of the university’s most popular and top-ranked programs. 

Because the Wendell Johnson Speech and Hearing Center on Hawkins Drive will need to be removed to make way for the inpatient tower, the top-ranked Communication Sciences and Disorders program will move to the new academic building. Joining it will be the fast-growing Health and Human Physiology department, and the Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences department. 

The project budget is $249 million. It will be funded by a combination of University Hospitals Building Usage Funds, university investment income, and private donations. No state funds will be used.

Iowa has been a leader in communication sciences and disorders for more than a century, when pioneers such as Lee Edward Travis and Carl Seashore helped develop speech and hearing science as a discipline of study. Today, the university boasts a No. 2 ranking in audiology and a No. 6 ranking in speech-language pathology, according to U.S. News &World Report, along with the state’s only Doctor of Audiology program. Many graduates of these programs enter the Iowa health care workforce to support the state’s aging population. 

Health and Human Physiology is the largest department within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, with more than 2,200 undergraduates and 100 graduate students enrolled for fall 2022. The department has six undergraduate areas of study, including the fast-growing Sport and Recreation Management with an enrollment of more than 800 students. To continue to grow, the program, currently housed in the aging Field House, needs additional and more modern space. 

The new academic building also will provide critical space for the Carver College of Medicine’s No. 4-ranked Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences department, which enrolls about 150 doctorate students in the professional degree program. With 33% enrollment growth and a nearly eight-fold increase in grant funding since 2006, the department is now beyond capacity in its current home within the Medical Education Building, which was built in 1919.