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The University of Iowa no longer will help Iowans with workplace-related training, dentist recruitment, farm safety, or understanding the aging process, officials announced Tuesday.

University officials plan to close seven centers and reduce funding to five others within the next year. Among the centers that will close is the Iowa Center for Higher Education, housed at the former AIB College of Business campus in Des Moines.

The closures and reductions will result in job losses for 33 people, the university announced Tuesday. University officials estimate they will save nearly $3.6 million once the cuts are complete.

The savings will be funneled back into the university’s general fund to replace reductions in state financial aid in recent years, a university spokesperson said. Those reductions had helped pay for teaching, research and other programs for students.

“We’re disappointed to be in this position because these centers and employees provide valuable outreach and service to Iowans,” Bruce Harreld, university president, said in a prepared statement. “But we can no longer ask our students to support activities previously supported by the state just a generation ago.”

In April, Harreld told Iowa Board of Regents members that university officials would review all of the institution’s centers and institutes and, if they had little to do with student learning, research or economic development, would close them or severely cut their budgets.

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Also in April, the university adopted a five-month moratorium on construction projects.

The Iowa Board of Regents will likely discuss the proposed closings at its September meeting, a spokesman said.

In the past decade, the state’s three public universities — the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa — have relied more heavily on revenue generated from tuition because of cuts in state appropriations.

In 2008, 49 percent of the universities’ revenue came from state aid and 45 percent from tuition. Last year, tuition generated 63 percent of revenue, compared with 32 percent for state aid.

In addition, the universities have undergone mid-year budget cuts the past two years. In March, both the University of Iowa and Iowa State University were told to find $11 million to cut from their budgets with just three months left in the fiscal year that ended June 30.

The centers that the University of Iowa will close include:

  • Center on Aging, housed in the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine. The center, opened in 1990, provides education, research and services related to understanding the aging process and improving older Iowans health. One half-time position will be eliminated. Budget savings: $265,901.
  • Confucius Institute, part of the office of International Programs. The institute promotes communication between the U.S. and China. The institute also provides Chinese language classes to high school students. It will close on July 31, 2019. Two full-time staff will be furloughed. Budget savings: $154,007.
  • Iowa Center for Assistive Technology Education and Research, founded in 2002. The center helps educators who work with people who are disabled. The center will close June 30, 2019. Budget savings: $203,000.
  • Iowa Center for Higher Education at the former AIB campus in Des Moines. Beginning in fall 2016, the university offered four undergraduate majors at the campus. The 140 students enrolled in the majors can take classes at the John and Mary Pappajohn Educational Center in downtown Des Moines or online. Six jobs will be eliminated. The campus will be sold, and proceeds will be used to fund scholarships for central Iowa students who attend UI. Budget savings: $535,632.
  • Labor Center, which opened in 1951. The center provided training and educational programs to Iowa workers and work-related organizations. Five full-time jobs will be eliminated. Budget savings: $557,000.
  • Office of Iowa Practice Opportunities in the College of Dentistry is a database that assists people looking to start a dental practice in Iowa. The office has helped place 173 dentists since 2006. One position will be eliminated when the office closes in a year. Budget savings: Not provided.
  • Mobile Museum, which began in 2014. The museum traveled more than 7,700 miles in fiscal year 2017, providing Iowans with exhibits on cutting-edge research. One full-time position will be cut when the museum’s current season ends in October. Budget savings: $190,000.

Five centers face reductions that will save the university an additional $1.6 million. They include the Development and Learning from Theory to Application Center; Center for Agricultural Safety and Health; Iowa Supports Education and Resources for Veterans and Enlisted Research Foundation; and the State Hygienic Laboratory.

In May, the university closed its Institute for Public Affairs. The institute’s funding of $100,000 was reallocated to scholarships in the College of Law.

Jennifer Sherer, the Labor Center’s director since 2008, said she learned of the planned closure of the center late last week. On Tuesday morning, the center’s staff received furlough notices, she said.

Sherer vowed to fight the decision to close the center, which opened in 1951.

“I want everyone to know that this is the start of what we will make sure is a much longer discussion,” she said. “People care about this program, and they'll make their voices heard.

“What (University of Iowa officials) are doing is preventing Iowans from getting information about issues that affect the workplace."

Jerry Hobart, business manager of the plumbers and pipefitters Local 125 in Cedar Rapids, said people in the trades are upset with the plan to close the Labor Center.

Many organizations and trade groups rely on the center to help train workers and managers in areas like labor law and proper workplace conduct, he said.

“We’ll have to look for that training somewhere out of state, something we really can’t afford,” he said.

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