The big immediate news is the destruction of the Old Capitol dome by fire on Nov. 20. What is the current situation? Does the University plan to rebuild the dome?
The Old Capitol dome fire was devastating to us in many ways. The dome is the symbol of our university and one of the most recognizable icons in the state. It is the heart and soul of our university. The dome was completely destroyed in the fire. The cause, at this point, has not been pinpointed definitively, though responsibility lies in some sort of heat source used during the restoration work that was under way.
The good news is that no one was hurt in the fire, and only the dome itself was lost. However, the building proper has suffered considerable smoke and water damage.
saved because Iowa City firefighters moved them to the sides, out of the
path of water, and tarps were placed over them. We are extremely grateful
for the fire departments quick work and sensitivity to how precious
the building is to everyone. Our biggest savior was a concrete firewall
that had been installed at the base of the dome in the 1920s. Thanks to
that, the fire did not spread to the rest of the building.
At this point, we are still sorting out the financial end of this disaster, but there is no question that the dome will be rebuilt. Total clean-up and rebuilding costs will probably run between $5 and $10 million.
Our own insurance as well as the insurance of the construction companies involved in the restoration work will cover most of the replacement cost. However, we do desperately need funds for ongoing upkeep of this campus, state, and national treasure. The UI Foundation has set up the Old Capitol Renewal Fund for those who wish to contribute to the rebuilding and ongoing preservation efforts. My husband Ken and I have donated $5,000, and the outpouring of support so far has really shown us how close the Old Capitol is to everyones heart. Its easy for parents and friends to contributeyou can do so online.
It was heartbreaking to stand on the Pentacrest lawn that morning and watch the dome disappear, engulfed in flames. But we will rebuild, and the gold dome will shine beautifully and proudly atop Old Capitol once again.
In June, the details of a new University capital campaign will be announced. When people think about capital campaigns, they tend to envision buildings. But the capital raised in such a drive can just as easily go to the Universitys human capitalits students. Since you arrived at The University of Iowa, youve been actively seeking new scholarships for students. How will the capital campaign affect your goals?
We have a big push for increased numbers of scholarships for students, to help students at all levels to get an education. People tend to enjoy giving to help students finance their education and sometimes to advance other goals. For example, they might specify that the scholarship goes to students from a particular town or state, or those with a particular talent, or students intending to go into a particular field. With increasing tuition costs, it is particularly important to generate as much assistance for students as we can.
But theres also a big push for improvements to our facilities. We got some state funding for a new building for the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, for example, but we must raise other funds for that project and for other improvements that we need to make.
Many parents contribute every year to the University. The importance of these ongoing and flexible resources cannot be overstated. I think its important that parents support public education in another way, too. This is the third year that the state legislature has cut our budget. I would urge all parents to talk to friends and family about this issue. Just by talking about it you can help the University.
In the fall, news reports said the University is planning to build a new residence hall and tear down the Quadrangle Residence Hall. Can you tell us about that?
That became news because we mentioned this plan in a report to the Board of Regents on future capital expenses that might be coming up. If we build a new residence hall, it is years away. The news accounts made it sound more immediate, but its just a plan at the moment.