photo of Dean Dan Clay

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

The field of education has faced numerous challenges this past year - budget cuts, teacher shortages, and school safety issues, just to mention a few.

Despite those challenges, all of you – our faculty, staff, students, and alumni and friends – have helped us face those challenges head on with resolve, resilience, and resourcefulness.

Your commitment to ensuring access to education and quality of life for everyone continues with a gusto that gives me hope for our future.

This is especially important for our rural communities across Iowa, a vibrant and vital part of our landscape. Many of our students come from these communities. We treasure their insights and hope many of them will return to contribute their new knowledge and talents there.

This commitment is demonstrated again and again through connections with our community partners across the state, nation and world. One example is a $1.3 million federal grant that is helping veterans and Latinos in rural communities have access to mental health care.

Other research projects are helping to make learning about physics fun for youth through an interactive exhibit at The Iowa Children’s Museum. Another project ensures that students in rural communities have access to challenging STEM curriculum.

Our Teacher Education Program continues to be among the best in the nation, with our Secondary Education Program in the top two percent and our Elementary Education Program in the top six percent. The majority of our Hawkeye Teachers, more than 70 percent, accept employment in Iowa.

We were also proud to see our rankings rise by three spots in the U.S. News and World Report’s America’s Best Graduate Schools 2019 guidebook, moving to No. 40 among all public and private institutions while many of our graduate programs continue to rank among the best in the nation.

Our college has also embarked on a journey of continuous improvement. In March, several faculty, staff and I traveled to Des Moines where we were recognized at the 2018 Governor’s Celebration of Performance Excellence for our tier one level of commitment.

None of our successes would be possible without you. Thank you for your commitment to helping make our world a better one. I hope you enjoy reading this year’s annual report, and I look forward to continuing the journey together.

 

Sincerely,

 

Daniel L. Clay, PhD, MBA

Dean and Professor

 

Institutions of higher education are uniquely situated to focus on long-term, enduring social problems, says Cassie Barnhardt, associate professor of higher education and student affairs.

While businesses must focus on profit and government on policies, colleges and universities contribute knowledge, discovery, and innovation — and have the responsibility to serve everyone, says Barnhardt, who studies the ways universities engage with matters of public and civic importance, and how they understand, interpret, and communicate their sense of social responsibility.

Professor smiling
Whether it’s looking for ways to provide more STEM education and opportunities for students in rural school districts or discovering new ways to help students with learning disabilities, public universities have the tools to address these problems. Higher education is steeped in inquiry, research, dialogue, and debate.

“We are here to educate all students and serve all of Iowa,” she says. “Not just pieces and parts of Iowa.”

To do that, Barnhardt says, it’s important to reflect the realities of who Iowa is. In this state of 3.1 million people, 1.2 million live in a rural community. This brings its own set of challenges, with rural populations having higher poverty rates and less access to services like mental health care. But Iowa is also becoming more diverse -- Latinx make up about 6 percent of the population. 

That number will grow to nearly 13 percent by the year 2050, according to the State Data Center of Iowa. About 3.5 percent of its population identifies as LGBTQ — and 28 percent of those individuals have children. These issues are not confined to the borders of Iowa. It’s critical that higher education prepare students to work in an increasingly diverse and dynamic world. 

“Everybody, as a learner, does best when they are affirmed and supported for who they are. We need to embrace the idea that school is to facilitate and catalyze talent development.”

Education can be used to achieve mutual goals of the University of Iowa, government, business and industry, and community as a whole, Barnhardt says. “Prosperity, peace, wellness, longevity, these are all things education are tied to,” she says.  

Year in Review

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