More than 100 planned construction projects, some very large, have been frozen for five months at the University of Iowa to make ends meet amid last-minute education budget cuts in the state.
The freeze has hit a $120m addition to a hospital and a $50m museum of art. The affected projects were in various stages of planning.
The university believes it can save $5.5m with the freeze. That is the approximate amount of the shortfall it faced in its accounts after the Iowa state legislature cut funding to universities by $11m with only three months left in the fiscal year.
Both University of Iowa and Iowa State University saw their budgets suddenly cut by 2.4%, reports Iowa City Press-Citizen.
According to the newspaper, exceptions will be made for projects already in the construction phase, critical to the university or related to public safety.
"We regret this action, however the current and pressing need to account for such a large decrease in just 90 days forces our hand," University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld told the Iowa Board of Regents, the state’s university governing body.
Harreld had earlier protested against budget cuts, saying that over the last 20 years state funding for his university had decreased by $7m while enrolment has grown.
"Frankly we are under resourced by any imaginable measure," Harreld told regents last week.
He said the freeze could not be a long-term solution to the funding shortfall.
Image: Render of the proposed $50 million new UI Museum of Art (University of Iowa)