Thursday, October 9, 2014
University Club


Thank you for inviting me to speak with you once again at this wonderful gathering of community leaders. I always very much enjoy meeting with you at this time of year and sharing my pride in the University of Iowa.

I think all of you here know that academic excellence is at the core of all we do at the UI, and I’d like to highlight some of our significant achievements for you today. Our faculty, staff, and students continue to build a remarkable record of accomplishment. With the excellence that we have achieved and the further greatness we aspire to, it’s not surprising that we rank among the nation’s top 30 public institutions of higher education according to the US News & World Report. Our students achieve excellence because they study under faculty in some of the very best academic programs anywhere. We are very proud that 27 of our graduate and clinical specialty programs rank in the top 25 according to US News & World Report, including 10 in the top 10 in the country.

Programs all across campus also rank very highly outside of the US News rankings. Examples of this include our world-renowned Iowa Writer’s Workshop, which regularly emerges as the number one program in the country. And the Tippie College of Business’s finance program is listed among the top ten in the world by The Financial Times. We have been developing our entrepreneurship programs very aggressively in recent years, and we are proud that Entrepreneur magazine designated Iowa among the top 25 entrepreneurship programs in the country. And I am proud that the College of Engineering graduated 15% of the nation’s National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges Scholars this past academic year. No other Big Ten university graduated any Grand Challenges Scholars, by the way.

Of course, we are renowned for our health care and medical research, and we consistently earn top rankings here, too. Earlier this year, our hospitals and clinics received designation as the top hospital in Iowa and one of the best in the nation according to US News & World Report with nine specialties highly ranked. The University of Iowa Children’s Hospital also ranks among the best in the nation and has been recognized in eight specialties. This just adds to our pride as the spectacular new children’s hospital building rises taller and taller on its new site near the main hospital and Kinnick Stadium. We have achieved this remarkable success and excellence in health care at Iowa for 23 straight years thanks to the talent, compassion, dedication, and hard work of the thousands of doctors, nurses, and staff members who work every day in our academic medical center.

What I’m especially proud of at Iowa is that we provide an excellent education at an affordable price. For the tenth straight year, the University of Iowa has been designated a “Best Buy” in the Fiske Guide to Colleges, one of only 23 public universities from the US, UK, and Canada on the list. The “Best Buy” designation is determined by a combination of high academic rankings, an inexpensive or moderate price, and a high quality of student life on campus.

Another point of special pride for me is our success in serving a very special cohort of students—our military veterans. Through innovative programming and support from our state legislature, we have been able to grow our veteran student population, and I see that growth only becoming stronger. Our dedication and hard work has paid off, and we are honored and delighted that the University of Iowa has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top ten “Best Colleges for Veterans” in the country.

Top rankings factor into the value of the degrees that our students receive here at the UI, and it’s one of the reasons why 90% of our graduating class in 2013 was either employed or in graduate school within seven months after graduation. We see the excellence of our graduates not just in these numbers, but also in the real-world work that Hawkeye alumni perform once they enter the workforce in their communities. We are very proud, for example, that across our state, 50% of Iowa physicians are UI-educated, 80% of all Iowa dentists have been trained at Iowa, 47% of all pharmacists in the state are UI-trained, and 80% of Iowa’s K-12 school districts have UI-educated teachers and administrators. And, by the way, 12,421 UI College of Education alumni are working in all of Iowa’s 99 counties.

With over 4,100 businesses hiring our graduates in recent years it is not hard to run into a fellow Hawkeye no matter where you work. As I travel across the state and nation and talk with community leaders and business owners, I consistently hear that Iowa graduates are not just highly trained professionals but hard workers and caring community members. Our students are the next generation of leaders, and I know that the hometown Hawkeyes here in our community and beyond will continue to bring innovation and excellence to all of us in the years to come.

The University of Iowa has been an innovator and has offered excellence in teaching, research, and service since its earliest days. Today, we continue to build upon many of the firsts that are so important to our campus legacy. Just a few examples of these famous firsts: We were the first public university in Iowa. We were the first public university to admit women and men on an equal basis. We were the first public university in the country to grant a law degree to a woman. We were the first U.S. public university with an African American player on a varsity athletic squad. The Daily Iowan was the first daily campus newspaper west of the Mississippi. And in the past year, the DI won a Pacemaker Award from the Associated Collegiate Press, recognizing the paper as one of the top five campus newspapers in the country.

This rich history gives us a strong foundation on which to build for the future and to become stronger for the next generation of students. Our future in Iowa, across our nation, and throughout the world is bright because of this superb next generation of leaders.

Again, thank you for inviting me to speak with you today. I also thank you for all the dedication and support you have shared—and continue to share—with our university.