Friday, August 21, 2009

Thank you, Dick Ferguson, for this wonderful plaque commemorating the ACT/UI 50-year partnership. On behalf of the entire University, I would like to say that we are honored to have been a part of the ACT success story for the past half-century, and we are proud to continue our association with ACT into a bright future for both of us. We at the UI also offer you our sincerest congratulations on your fifty years of growth and excellence. As we celebrate ACT’s golden anniversary, I look forward to building upon our mutual history, interests, and dedication to excellence in education.

One of the University of Iowa’s marks of distinction is its international reputation as a center for educational measurement and testing. When ACT spun out of the work of Professor E. F. Lindquist and Registrar Ted McCarrel, the UI made one of its most dramatic impacts on the world outside of its own walls. Lindquist and McCarrel had an idea of how to make things better – for Iowans and for students across the country. But rather than just think or write about it, they put their ideas into action in service to the state, the nation, and ultimately to the world.

Fifty years ago, both the UI and ACT were very different organizations. In 1959, the UI enrolled fewer than 15,000 students. Today, it is over twice that. In 1959, Virgil Hancher was President, and Hancher Auditorium wasn’t even an idea. Today, we are embarking on rebuilding this world-renowned fine arts center for the 21st century. In 1959, UI football coach Forest Evashevski led the Hawkeyes to a great Rose Bowl win over Cal-Berkeley. Well, some things don’t change much – we saw another great bowl victory under Coach Kirk Ferentz in 2009!

In 1959, ACT got its start in a meeting in this very building on this very date. From a few employees, the organization has grown to a 1200-plus-member workforce located across the globe. In 1959, ACT began its work by introducing only the second college entrance exam in the country. Today, it offers an amazing array of assessments for not just entering college students, but for students at multiple levels, for advising professionals, for workplaces, and for many others.

As both the UI and ACT have grown into very different institutions, we have never lost our strong bonds of partnership. That partnership is a remarkable example of mutually beneficial educational and economic development – both filled with interchange and reciprocity.

The University of Iowa remains one of the world’s leading academic centers for educational testing and measurement, and the Iowa City area has grown as one of the world’s leading centers for the profession. The educational measurement organizations that are clustered here in our community are world-class multi-national organizations. These organizations benefit greatly from the University – and vice versa.

For example, the University uses ACT tools in our educational mission. The ACT college exam is used in our admissions process, and it helps us place students in the first-year classes where they’ll best be challenged and will see the best prospects for success. The Belin-Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development uses ACT assessments to discover young people who can develop their gifts through specialized educational opportunities. And 87 international students have enrolled at the UI through ACT’s Global Assessment Certificate program since we joined the initiative in 2007.

ACT also provides education directly to many University of Iowa students. They provide guest speakers for classes, internships and assistantships for students, and adjunct faculty to teach in the College of Education, the Tippie College of Business, and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Those are just a few of the ways in which we develop student success through partnership. In addition to education, the UI and ACT are important economic development partners.

ACT requires a highly educated workforce. Sixty-five percent of ACT employees have at least a bachelor’s degree, thirty percent at least a master’s, and one in ten have a PhD or other terminal degree. Many of those degrees are from The University of Iowa.

The workforce flow works the other way, too: some former ACT employees are now part of The University of Iowa. One great example is UI College of Education Professor Bob Brennan, Lindquist Chair in Measurement and Testing and Director of the Center for Advanced Studies in Measurement and Assessment. And, by the way, ACT and CASMA have co-sponsored an important educational assessment conference over the past several years.

The UI also has provided direct services to ACT as the organization has developed and matured. The Measurement Research Center scored ACT tests using its high-speed electronic scanning equipment. And until the late 90’s, much of ACT’s mainframe computing was outsourced to the UI WEEG computing center. This kind of support is very similar to the types of services fledgling biotech companies use in partnership with the University today ̶ for example, using electron microscopes, mass spectrometers, and other equipment that is prohibitively expensive for a startup company to afford on its own. We hope that these businesses will become as successful as ACT.

We are extremely proud of ACT and the many fine, mutually beneficial relationships that exist between this world-renowned organization and The University of Iowa. I know that we will continue and grow this remarkable partnership for many years into the future. Beyond our partnerships, we are also simply proud of the way in which ACT has developed into one of the premier assessment organizations in the world.

Once again, The University of Iowa offers to you its most heartfelt thanks and congratulations, and we extend our best wishes to you for the next 50 years of success.