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UI, Wellmark talk about naming public health college


The University of Iowa and Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield are talking about a major gift for naming the university’s new College of Public Health building.

Interim University President Gary Fethke declined to reveal the amount of the gift but praised Wellmark’s involvement.

“I am thrilled that Wellmark would consider donating to the College of Public Health,” Fethke said.

He said it would be unusual to have a college named after a company, but that he is not thinking so much about the name of the building as the partnership between the university and Wellmark.

In the past, colleges have been named after individuals who have made significant contributions to the university. For example, the College of Medicine is named after Roy and Lucille Carver, and the College of Business is named after Henry Tippie.

The Iowa Board of Regents would have to sign off on the name and Regent Robert Downer raised concerns about a possible conflict of interest because of continuing contractual relationships between the university and Wellmark.

Downer said he understood the amount of the gift would be $15 million for the college, which does research on various public health issues.

“I am concerned that there not be any skewing of conclusion of this research because of the funding, which I don’t think there would be,” he said. “But then you get into perception, which I think you need to look at carefully.”

Wellmark is a major payer to the University of Iowa Hospitals and administers insurance plans for all the state’s public universities.

Construction on the $40 million College of Public Health building is expected to begin this fall.

– Associated Press

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