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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 12, 2007

Leaders break ground for College of Public Health academic building

Congressman Dave Loebsack, State Sen. Robert Dvorsky and Regent Robert Downer joined University of Iowa officials and others for a ceremonial groundbreaking today, Friday, Oct. 12, at the site of the future UI College of Public Health Academic Building.

The new facility, to be built on the site of the existing UI International Center, will consolidate academic, administrative and student-related functions of the College of Public Health.

"This new building, and the college it will accommodate, reflects Iowa's deep commitment to improving health at the community level," Loebsack said. "Awareness of public health has never been greater due to concerns about issues such as our aging population, environmental quality, increasing obesity, and health care access, cost, and quality. This new facility will provide the necessary infrastructure for the College of Public Health to continue its crucial work in these and other areas."

The $47.7 million building will be financed by a combination of state funding, university revenue bonds, private gifts and funds being sought from federal appropriations.

"Across our society today, we see a growing need for the expertise that the College of Public Health provides," Dvorsky said. "This is an investment in the health of Iowans now and into the future."

UI President Sally Mason praised the efforts of faculty, staff and students in making the College of Public Health a comprehensive public health resource for Iowa, the region and the nation.

"In only eight years as a collegiate unit, the College of Public Health has very rapidly developed a vigorous interdisciplinary research program and an impressive array of outreach activities addressing today's public health priorities," Mason noted. "The college is widely recognized for leadership in areas including agricultural safety and health, birth defects and cancer surveillance, clinical trials, emerging infectious diseases, tobacco control and substance abuse prevention, and nutrition and obesity prevention, among many others."

Gathering faculty and students in a common academic home will further strengthen the college's highly-ranked programs and elevate other programs into the ranks of top-rated public health schools nationwide, according to James Merchant, dean of the UI College of Public Health.

"This academic facility will enable students and faculty throughout the college to pursue the innovative, multidisciplinary approaches to health promotion and disease prevention that are the hallmarks of public health," Merchant said.

Support for the project and the college also was expressed in statements from Iowa Sens. Tom Harkin and Chuck Grassley.

"The science of public health has never been more relevant and the demand for a well-trained workforce has never been more urgent," Harkin said. "Cutting-edge research and educational programs like those in the College of Public Health are absolutely critical to securing a healthy future for Iowans and all Americans."

Grassley highlighted the College of Public Health's leadership in addressing the unique health concerns of rural populations.

"This new facility will give faculty and staff new opportunities to collaborate under one roof and better focus on the particular public health challenges facing rural America. The work of the college and its quality programs can help to improve the quality of life for people living in rural areas and rural states, including Iowa," Grassley said.

The new facility will integrate sustainable design features such as reflective roofing, use of natural lighting, permeable paving systems, vegetative swales and native species planting areas. The University will seek certification of this building within the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System.

"This structure will integrate students and faculty vertically and horizontally in a highly functional, beautifully balanced building that will embody the college's vision and mission through sustainable design and use of green technology," Merchant said.

The 130,000-gross-square-foot building will consist of two wings with a total of five levels each, including one underground level. All but the fourth level and a first-level auditorium will be completed as part of initial construction. Upon final completion, the facility will provide offices for primary faculty in the college's five academic departments: biostatistics; community and behavioral health; epidemiology; health management and policy; and occupational and environmental health. 

The building is being designed by a two-firm team consisting of Payette of Boston and Rohrbach Associates PC of Iowa City. Construction of the facility is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2008, with project completion during the summer of 2010.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa College of Public Health Office of Communications and External Relations, 4261 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: Dan McMillan, UI College of Public Health, 319-335-6835,

PHOTO: A high-resolution image of the College of Public Health Academic Building is available at