Funds also will go toward classroom improvements and other initiatives in support of the strategic plan
Wednesday, July 5, 2023

The University of Iowa will use the next round of P3 funding to enhance student success, retain critical employees, and share faculty research and scholarship with the public.

Up to $15 million in funding will be distributed from the UI Strategic Initiatives Fund (P3) to support implementation of the strategic plan in FY2024. The P3 Board of Directors endorsed the following allocation of funds at its June meeting:

  • $2.6 million for four projects selected from a campuswide call for proposals
  • $5 million for the enhancement of education infrastructure on campus

The remaining $7.4 million for FY2024 will be reserved for the implementation of additional strategic plan initiatives throughout the year. Members of the Strategic Plan Action and Resource Committee (SPARC) can make requests on a rolling basis until all FY2024 P3 funds are committed.

As campus leaders began implementing the first year of the Strategic Plan for 2022-2027, they recognized the potential for a more effective use of the P3 funds. Adopting this new funding approach allows the university to prioritize crucial improvements to educational spaces and respond more quickly to funding needs that arise throughout the year. The new funding model maintains the opportunity for all members of the campus community to submit proposals.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to leverage P3 funds in a more strategic, responsive way,” says Executive Vice President and Provost Kevin Kregel. “The four projects selected this year are innovative proposals that will have a positive impact on our students, faculty, and staff. Additionally, the investment in educational infrastructure allows us to provide more modern and accessible learning spaces to better meet the needs and expectations of our students and instructors.”

The $5 million for educational infrastructure will have a transformational impact on academic programming and student success at Iowa. The P3 board approved $3 million for facility upgrades, which will allow the university to start planning and design for relocating the Department of Dance to the Performing Arts Annex, the renamed former art museum on North Riverside Drive. The remaining educational infrastructure funds for FY2024 will be used to upgrade classrooms.

Projects approved for FY2024

A campuswide call for proposals in September 2022 drew 33 preliminary applications. Nine were invited by SPARC to submit full proposals. SPARC reviewed the full proposals in March and April 2023 and recommended to President Barbara Wilson four projects totaling $2.6 million in funding.

The approved projects are:

  • Increasing access to information and supporting interventions: A full-function mobile app for the UI

This initiative aims to boost student engagement and success by providing a digital gateway to the University of Iowa. Creating a mobile application for UI students will expand student access to critical information, resources, programs, and services. Collaborators on the project—including the Division of Student Life, the Office of the Provost, the Office of Strategic Communication, Information Technology Services, Undergraduate Student Government, and Graduate and Professional Student Government—will work together to provide a simple, easy-to-use app that focuses on a strong user experience, establishes deep integration into existing systems, and communicates timely messages that will support student success. 

Approved funding: $1,696,875 over three years; led by Sarah Hansen, vice president for student life.

  • The use and impact of targeted, need-based financial assistance at the UI 

This project will evaluate the effect University of Iowa need-based financial assistance programs have on students’ GPA, credits earned, retention, and graduation. Leveraging substantial institutional data and quasi-experimental methods, researchers will determine when and for whom financial assistance is most effective. The project will involve close collaboration between researchers and campus stakeholders, allowing findings from the study to support the expansion or refinement of financial assistance programs, which will ultimately improve academic success and reduce academic disparities among students.

Approved funding: $130,617 over two years; led by Katharine Broton, assistant professor of higher education and student affairs, College of Education.

  • Recognizing, recruiting, and retaining Merit staff

This project aims to increase engagement and reduce turnover among Merit staff at Iowa. Merit staff are vital contributors to the university’s missions, functions, and strategic goals. Previous feedback from Merit staff on culture, supervision, and training will guide the development of pilot initiatives to address retention. The project will introduce Merit-specific orientation programs, expand supervisor training, and develop tailored mentoring and career-pathway programs. Assessment of the effectiveness of these initiatives will inform whether they are integrated into University Human Resources operations to enhance the overall employee experience and advance the university’s strategic plan goals for holistic well-being and success.

Approved funding: $520,000 over three years; led by Cheryl Reardon, chief human resources officer and associate vice president, University Human Resources.

  • Writing for the public good: Establishing Iowa as the leading institution where faculty communicate research and scholarship with our state, nation, and world

Building upon the University of Iowa’s distinction in writing, this initiative will equip facultywith the skills to communicate their research and scholarship to wider audiences outside academia. Participants will attend workshops focusing on writing effectively for public news outlets, including essays, op-eds, research-informed journalistic essays, leading newspapers, respected magazines, and other venues. This initiative directly aligns with the strategic plan goal to leverage the UI’s areas of distinction and the talent of its people to have a transformative societal impact. By extending the reach of academic knowledge through various media outlets, this project will help enable Iowa to become a leader in communicating research and scholarship to the public.

Approved funding: $270,000 over three years; led by Kristy Nabhan-Warren, associate vice president for research, Office of the Vice President for Research.

The P3 Program provides resources for strategic investment into the UI’s core missions of teaching, research, and scholarship. In March 2020, 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. Earnings from the endowment will allow the university to invest about $15 million per fiscal year in support of the UI’s strategic plan priorities of excellence in teaching and learning, innovative research and creative discovery, welcoming and inclusive environment, holistic well-being and success, and transformative societal impact.