The University of Iowa is increasing its presence in central Iowa with the announcement today that the AIB College of Business in Des Moines will become the U-I Des Moines campus.
University of Iowa president Sally Mason joined AIB president Nancy Williams to reveal the details. “The idea for this merger stemmed from a casual conversation that I had with president Mason this summer. And it drew from there,” Williams says. “AIB College of Business is not seeking any kind of financial relief, in fact, the college is virtually debt free and no money is being exchanged. AIB is not being sold to the University of Iowa. We are doing this because it’s the right thing at this point in AIB’s proud history.”
Williams made the announcement in the building bearing the name of her father Keith Fenton, who was the second president of the school, following her grandfather who founded the school in 1921. AIB moved to its current location just southwest of downtown Des Moines in 1972 and has a 20-acre campus with around 1,000 students.
She says she came up with the idea while visiting her son on the U-I campus where he goes to school. “There are new challenges today for private colleges and our merger with the University of Iowa is the logical next step for our future, providing an innovative opportunity to continue AIB’s tradition of offering quality educational services to our community,” Williams says.
Mason, who is retiring in July, says this merger is part of the plans she talked about in expanding the university’s reach in the final months of her tenure. “The University of Iowa is honored that you have chosen us for this very important role, and joining together allows you to achieve a very important goal. But it allows us to achieve an important goal also, which is to broaden our service to the people of Des Moines and the surrounding region.”
Mason says the merger allows the school to add more students. “Students will be able to live here, on the campus or nearby and earn a University of Iowa degree,” Mason says. “This will help the university deliver on the Board of Regents’ commitment to offering access to affordable, high quality access to the people of our state.”
The Regents have approved a proposed plan to distribute money to the three state schools based on the number of instate students who attend. The AIB merger could help the U-I in increasing its total of instate students.
The merger means going to AIB’s Des Moines campus would allow students access very similar to what is available at the school’s main campus. “We likely won’t have the full spectrum of programs that we are able to offer in Iowa City, but if we offer the program hear and a student wants to stay in Des Moines and do it right here, there’s no reason why they couldn’t,” Mason says. Williams says they will be doing what they can to ensure that current AIB students are taken care of in the switch.
“The average net tuition cost would be about 11-thousand dollars, so our tuition is just a little bit higher than the University of Iowa, and not by a lot,” Williams explains. “Our goal during the transition would be that the students would not be impacted negatively. So, if they have a scholarship, that it would be honored.” Williams says there would not be an immediate impact on the employees at AIB.
Williams says the goal is to have as many faculty and staff stay, as she says they are needed until the merger is complete. U-I president, Mason added “we need them.” Williams was asked what will happen with the sports teams at . She says they have not figured out yet what will happen with the sports teams as the athletic director is out of town. “So we will be having a meeting and discussing how we are going to handle that,” Williams says.
Mason says it will take some time to finish all of the details, but she says students could start seeing the change very soon. “By June 2016 we want to have all of this done, but there’s a lot of things that will happen along the way,” according the Mason. “So for example, students who are being admitted right now for next fall, we fully expect that those will be University of Iowa students.”
Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter was also on hand for the announcement. The merger of the two colleges needs to get approval from the Board of Regents before it is finalized.
Audio: AIB news conference on merger with U-I. 31:00