The Iowa Board of Regents will ask a consultant to study whether the AIB College of Business campus, set to be donated to the University of Iowa in July 2016, is the best place for a planned regents center in Des Moines in the long term.

The study by a company to be selected in a few weeks opens the prospect that UI may sell the AIB campus eventually, said Regents President Bruce Rastetter.

The consultant will check into traffic patterns and other logistics at AIB's campus along Fleur Drive, while UI officials continue their work to assess the condition of the physical plant, Rastetter said.

Another part of the regents' consultant study, to be completed by February, will ask the Greater Des Moines businesses and others what programs are needed at the campus. Officials with UI, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa are negotiating, at the regents' request, how they can offer programs in Des Moines that are collaborative and meet local needs without duplicating efforts, Rastetter said.

"We have asked the board office to issue a (request for proposals), in which we would collect data on where the best location in Des Moines is. Maybe it's at AIB; maybe it's elsewhere," Rastetter said. "We talked to the AIB folks about this."

Rastetter said the consultant will report on which site seems best for a campus designed to offer classes from the three schools. "We think it is important for the three public universities to have a significant presence in Des Moines," Rastetter said.

But the site has to be workable, based on a review of relevant data and a look to future needs, he added.

AIB Board Chairman Chris Costa said an agreement donating the property to UI should be on the regents' October board meeting agenda as planned. He added that he was informed of the new study and considers it a proper vetting by the state.

"I understand their procedure," Costa said. "We want to move forward, but nothing is forever. If the regents decide they want their campus to be more than 10 to 15 acres, we understand. They will have the flexibility."

"The possibility exists that the regents in five or 10 years may decide another location is better, or maybe they want multiple locations," Costa said. "We are not expecting a quick sale."

AIB in January announced that it will donate the campus to the University of Iowa when AIB ceases operations at the end of June. After an initial announcement saying the campus would be a branch of the University of Iowa, a later announcement indicated the site would be used as a center featuring classes offered by the three Iowa public universities, but managed by UI.

Continue reading to learn more about what will happen if AIB's campus converts to a regents center. Full Insider story >>>

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