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University of Iowa News Release


Jan. 14, 2010

Note: This release was updated at 3:31 p.m. CST Jan. 14 with a link to audio of today's news conference and the schedule for rebroadcast of video from the event on UI Television.

UI to seek Board of Regents' approval on School of Music, Hancher site proposal

At the Iowa Board of Regents' meeting on Feb. 4, University of Iowa officials will seek approval for a proposal to rebuild Hancher Auditorium on the west campus and the UI School of Music's academic and performance space adjacent to the main east campus along South Clinton Street.

The proposal was discussed during a news conference today. Audio of the news conference is available in mp3 and WAV formats. UI Television will rebroadcast video of the event at the following days and times: 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14; 8 and 9:45 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15; 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16; 6 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 17; and 8 a.m. and 9:45 p.m. Monday, Jan. 18.

The Voxman Music Building, Hancher and Clapp Recital Hall, all of which are clustered along the Iowa River, were damaged by the June 2008 flood. After the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) qualified these facilities for replacement early last year, the Board of Regents authorized the UI at its April 2009 meeting to proceed with site selection for replacement facilities.

Under the university's proposal, Hancher and associated parking would be built on university-owned land on the west campus, north and west of its current location. The new auditorium would be constructed -- at a minimum -- above the 500-year flood level plus 2 feet, in accordance with federal requirements and the recommendations of the UI's Flood Mitigation Task Force. That task force was co-chaired by Gregg Oden, a professor of psychology and computer science, and  Larry Weber, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the IIHR-Hydroscience and Engineering.

For a map showing an outline of the proposed Hancher rebuild area, visit:

To replace the School of Music academic and administrative areas, as well as Clapp Recital Hall and other smaller practice and recital space, the university will seek to utilize private land on either side of Clinton Street, immediately south of downtown and adjacent to the campus.

For a map showing an outline of the proposed School of Music rebuild area, visit:

UI President Sally Mason said the proposal to separate the facilities came after considerable deliberation and consultation with a wide range of faculty, staff, students, community stakeholders, government leaders and patrons. In addition to the information gathered at public fora July 9 and Oct. 12, 2009, Mason said she's had numerous personal conversations with people who have great interest in the future of the School of Music and Hancher.

"The fact that so many people feel so passionately about Hancher Auditorium and the School of Music speaks volumes about the great treasure we have in the performing arts programs here at the University of Iowa," Mason said. "With that in mind we have very carefully weighed all of our options and believe people, programs and patrons would best be served by the recommended action, with Hancher close to its current site and the School of Music and Clapp provided a more central, visible and accessible space much closer to the east campus."

If the Regents approve the proposal, the university would be authorized to proceed with planning for replacement space and to seek needed approvals by the FEMA and others as required. It would also allow the university to select architects and other professionals needed to design the facilities. Even then, Mason said, the university's ability to develop a viable plan along Clinton Street for the School of Music will depend upon prompt action.

"We will do all that is possible to make this work but will need to reach needed agreements with landowners over the next few months," Mason said. If agreements can't be made with landowners, the university may have to consider rebuilding both the School of Music and Hancher facilities on the west campus.

"We all look forward to that day when UI students, faculty and staff are in new, permanent facilities and not scattered about the campus and community as they are now, and we all can again have the joy of a performance in Hancher Auditorium," she added. "But fully restoring the flood-impacted portions of our campus is a lengthy, challenging and complex process. From the outside it may seem this process is moving less rapidly than we all would hope, especially for the many faculty, staff, students and supporters who are understandably eager to see the performing arts programs return to their home venues. But I'm confident that the same energy, focus and spirit of cooperation that was so evident across the campus, community and state in June 2008 will be brought to bear on the University of Iowa's long-term recovery efforts."

Mason said the university is indebted to Gov. Chet Culver, the Iowa Legislature and the local legislative and congressional delegations for their support throughout the recovery process.

"From the moment it became clear the Iowa River would flood our beautiful campus back in June of 2008, our governmental representatives have been great advocates for the University of Iowa, offering their encouragement, friendship, support and leadership as we've worked to navigate one of the most monumental challenges to face the university in its 163-year history," she said.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Moore, 319-356-3945,