Des Moines-based AIB College of Business is merging with the University of Iowa, thus increasing UI’s presence in central Iowa.
The University of Iowa Des Moines Campus will be located on what is now AIB’s campus. The private, non-profit school sits about two miles from the Des Moines Airport on the corner of Fleur Drive and Bell Avenue.
AIB College President Nancy Williams, whose grandfather founded the school in 1921, says merging with UI is the right thing to do. She is adamant the merger is not the result of financial duress.
“There are new challenges today for private colleges,” Williams says. “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 many of the merger details still need to be decided.
"Our current AIB students will be able to finish their programs and earn their diplomas," Williams says. "Whether the diploma will be AIB or the University of Iowa is something that will have to be worked out."
Another aspect of the merger that has yet to be decided is the future of AIB athletics. The school belongs to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
Senior Brandon Eley studies business administration and is a shooting guard on the school’s basketball team. He says the AIB Eagles are in the running for the conference title.
“Right now I have a lot of mixed emotions,” Eley says. “Being an alumni of this athletic program that we’ve built up this past four years, it would kind of suck knowing that we did that for kind of nothing.”
Slightly more than 1,010 students attend AIB, though Williams says the 20-acre campus could support about twice that number. Williams says approximately 80 percent of AIB students are from Iowa.
Starting in 2016 the funding structure for Iowa’s three public universities will change, prioritizing enrollment of in-state students. UI is the only school that stands to lose funding under the Board of Regents' new formula.
University of Iowa President Sally Mason says her goal is for the first Des Moines-based UI students to start this fall, and also that AIB graduates its last class in June 2016.
"We likely won't have the full spectrum of programs that we're able to offer in Iowa City," Mason says. "But if we offer the program here, and a student wants to stay here and do it right in Des Moines, there's no reason why they couldn't."
Just 40 minutes north of Des Moines, Iowa State University also has a satellite presence in Iowa's largest city. ISU offers MBA night classes at Capitol Square, and also allows undergraduates to earn a limited number of credits at Des Moines Area Community College.