Ground will be broken today on a major addition to the University of Iowa’s College of Dentistry. Dr. David Johnsen, the college’s dean, says the original building opened on the Iowa City campus in 1973. While structurally sound, he says it’s in need of a top-to-bottom overhaul as technology and teaching styles have significantly changed over the decades.
“We’ll have an addition of about 30,000 square feet that will have two floors of clinics and one floor of student space,” Dr. Johnsen says. “Then, we’ll have that space available as we systematically go through and completely rebuild the current building on the inside and this will be a $60-million project.” The first phase, building the addition, is expected to take 12 to 18 months, while renovating the current dental building may take another three years.
“This really is an investment in the oral health of Iowans for probably the next two to three generations and it’s an investment, we think, in one of the top dental schools in the world,” Johnsen says. “Eighty-percent of Iowa’s dentists are our alumni and we want to be an invaluable resource to the state.” All three of Iowa’s public universities are facing significant budget cuts as state funding is being reduced by tens of millions of dollars. While the timing may not appear opportune, Johnsen says the finances for this addition have been in the planning stages for a decade.
The infrastructure money is coming from sources other than tax revenues, Johnsen says. It’s a combination state and university money in addition to a large amount of private fundraising. The groundbreaking is scheduled for 4 P.M. The U-of-I College of Dentistry has about 320 students, including 80 students in each of the four classes, in addition to advanced specialty programs for another 70 residents. There are 90 full-time faculty, 150 part-time faculty and some 250 staff.