Friday, June 14, 2013
UI Pentacrest

I would like to thank the Preservation Hall Jazz Band for that magnificent and inspiring performance. This is just a preview of their show tomorrow at 4:00 here on the Pentacrest, so please come back for the full concert. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band were Hancher Auditorium's opening performers in 1972, and they are now in the midst of the statewide “Living with Floods” tour sponsored by Hancher, with the UI College of Engineering, the UI College of Education and the Interdisciplinary Flood Workshop, the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, and the Iowa Flood Center. Their Iowa tour is another example of the many ways we at the University of Iowa are engaging with communities all across the state.

I welcome everyone to this wonderful celebration. I also thank our guests for attending this special event celebrating the partnerships that are bringing three new arts facilities to the University of Iowa. Campus, state, and federal leaders have been instrumental in helping us establish a shared vision for a revitalized arts campus. Those partnerships have brought us here together today, and they have brought us to this major point in our campus renewal. These partnerships are not just about building new buildings, but also about re-envisioning how to live with the river and how to address the threat of flooding. And we, of course, have seen these partnerships at work once again—and working very effectively—these past few weeks as the waters of the Iowa River have risen anew.

Today marks a new beginning for our campus.  We are pleased to be here with all of you to celebrate that new beginning, and we are pleased to publicly thank those who have made it possible. Let me introduce those partners who are guests with us today.

Our Board of Regents has been a crucial and supportive partner. With us today are Regent Bob Downer and Regent President Bruce Rastetter.

The university and the City of Iowa City enjoy an excellent relationship, and the partnership we have in flood recovery and mitigation is crucial. So we are delighted that joining us today is Tom Markus, Iowa City City Manager.

Our local legislative delegation, all members of the Iowa General Assembly, and the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, and several other state agencies have been extraordinary in their support and belief in us. The state leaders joining us today are Senator Joe Bolkcom; Senator Bob Dvorsky; Representative Dave Jacoby; Representative Dan Kelley; Representative Vicki Lensing; Representative Mary Mascher; Representative Art Staed; Director of the Department of Cultural Affairs Mary Cownie; Pat Hall, Head of the Recovery Bureau of the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division; and Mark Schouten, Administrator with the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Division.=

Flood recovery and rebuilding is a multi-faceted process, and our federal partners have been central to our success as well. We are very pleased today to welcome Dave Leshtz from Congressman Dave Loebsack’s office, Fred Schuster from Senator Chuck Grassley’s office, Tom Larkin from Senator Tom Harkin’s office, and Beth Freeman from FEMA.

I cannot fully express how grateful I am to all of these leaders and to many more.  With their help, we are moving forward with a new School of Music building, School of Art and Art History building, and Hancher Auditorium. Please join me in thanking all of these public leaders for their commitment and hard work on behalf of the University of Iowa.

The arts and culture have been central to the legacy and character of the University of Iowa for many, many decades. Creativity is essential to our discovery mission as much as cures for cancer, explorations of outer space, and understandings of the Constitution. That is why Iowa is known as the first university to award academic credit for creative work. And that is why our campus arts facilities are an integral part of our broader institutional vision.

Of course, no one would have wished for the devastating floods of 2008.  But we are taking full advantage of the unique opportunity those floods placed before us, even thrust upon us. As we embark on this very exciting phase of our renewed campus, we know we must provide the best facilities to bring our storied arts programs into the 21st century.  And we are doing just that. Today we are celebrating that shared vision of building an arts campus that will define creativity in the university and serve our students, our faculty and staff, our community, and our state and beyond for generations to come.

Today, we also must thank our students, faculty, and staff who have been involved in our flood recovery. We must thank them for their important work and vision in moving forward on rebuilding our arts campus. And to our arts students, faculty, and staff specifically, we especially thank them for their patience, flexibility, and creativity in making the best of the situation as they have waited for new facilities to arise. We must also thank them very much for the remarkable ways they have continued their work in the past five years. I cannot tell you how impressed—even moved—I have been by how they have found unique, imaginative ways to develop and showcase their talents here on campus, around the state, and even across the country and throughout the globe during these challenging years. And I am so grateful that we will be able to enjoy some of the superb fruits of that talent today as part of our celebration.

Today we also thank the hundreds of professional and skilled workers who are now working on—and will continue to work on—the actual rebuilding of our new arts facilities. As well, we thank the many skilled craftspeople, architects, and engineers who are fulfilling the University of Iowa’s vision for these facilities.

Of course, there is one additional, very important art building that has been lost to us in terms of its original use—the Museum of Art. But I am very pleased that we are moving forward with plans for a new place to house and showcase our renowned and inspiring art collection. Our entire university community is grateful for the Board of Regents’ decision on June 5 to support those plans. We will have more to report in the months ahead, so stay tuned.

Thank you to all of our speakers for their remarks. You have set the stage for the future excitement of arts and minds coming together at the University of Iowa in the months and years ahead. And thank you again to our local, state, and federal partners who have brought us to this exciting milestone: the City of Iowa City, the City of Coralville, Johnson County, the Iowa Legislature, Governor Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Reynolds, the Board of Regents, Iowa Homeland Security, FEMA, and our federal Congressional delegation.

And thank you all for coming out to join us today.  Please stay for light refreshments, and I also invite you to enjoy the performances on the stages, as well as the exhibits and performances throughout Old Capitol. Enjoy the rest of your day!