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Telegraph Herald (Dubuque, IA)
IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa plans to halt more than 100 campus construction projects in response to budget cuts approved by state lawmakers.
The freeze went into effect Thursday and will last for about five months.
Lawmakers cut the state Board of Regents' budget by $11 million last month. The board responded by cutting University of Iowa and Iowa State University budgets by 2.4 percent. UI must make up a nearly $5.5 million shortfall before the fiscal year ends in June.
"We regret this action, however the current and pressing need to account for such a large decrease in just 90 days forces our hand," said Bruce Harreld, president of the university.
Most of the halted construction is maintenance-related, but the freeze also includes some larger projects, such as a wrestling facility, a $120 million hospital facility, a $50 million art museum facility and a nearly $11 million Finkbine Golf Course clubhouse.
Other halted projects include an estimated $10 million fitness center, $3 million in facility upgrades at the Cambus Maintenance Facility and $8 million in renovations at the Lindquist Center.
The university will continue projects that are already in the construction phase, critical to the university or related to public safety.
The moratorium isn't a long-term fix, Harreld said. University leaders are evaluating whether to extend the construction freeze once the five-month period is over.
The state budget has increased by nearly $3 billion over the past two decades, but state funding for the university has decreased by $7 million, despite enrollment increasing by more than 5,000, Harreld said.
"Frankly, we are under-resourced by any imaginable measure," Harreld told regents Wednesday.
The university is focusing on research funding, salaries and economic development to combat the decrease in resources.
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