Friday, February 21, 2014
Shambaugh Auditorium, Main Library
I am very excited to be here today to mark the opening and the amazing success of the Learning Commons. Whenever we are able to celebrate an innovation that serves our students better and that contributes to their success here at the University of Iowa, I am especially happy.
I am also very happy to thank all of those who have made the Learning Commons possible, and I would like to extend special gratitude to our public leaders for their hard work on our behalf. Our Board of Regents has been a crucial and supportive partner. We are very thankful for their partnership that has helped us strengthen our programs and campus. I would also like to acknowledge our local legislative delegation, all members of the Iowa General Assembly, and the Governor for their support and belief in us. The entire university thanks them for their continued efforts and support.
Our commitment to student success has literally taken shape with the new Learning Commons. We have made innovative changes that reflect the way students study and learn today. And we did this the right way.  We went to students and asked them, “What do you want in a library? What do you need to help you along your path of success here at the University of Iowa?” And we listened. We took the most groundbreaking ideas in student learning and university libraries out there today, combined them with what our students said they wanted and needed, and the result is nothing short of spectacular.
In my many talks with our constituents both on and off campus, I have invited everyone to take a walk through the new first floor of the library and have told them to be prepared for a shock…a wonderful shock. Harking back to that old Oldsmobile commercial, I’ve sometimes said, “This is not your father’s library.” But even more inspiring than the physical changes themselves, which obviously are amazing, is that a walk through the Learning Commons will energize you with the excitement and activity of hundreds of students studying, learning, collaborating, and imagining in this remarkable space, a space that caters to their needs and pushes them to learn in new ways.
To say that the Learning Commons is a success is an understatement. Our students have greeted the renovations with great enthusiasm. They are voting with their feet, showing up here and staying for a long time. As an academic, it thrills me to no end that so many students think the library is the coolest place on campus!
The Learning Commons is not the only thing new at the library. I am now delighted to introduce to you our new University Librarian, John Culshaw. John came to us this academic year from the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he rose through the ranks over twenty years to become Senior Associate Dean of Libraries there.
John is no stranger to a learning commons, as he played a key role in the design and construction of a 16,000-square-foot learning commons that opened in CU-Boulder’s Norlin Library in 2009. John is a leader in moving university research libraries forward into the twenty-first century. At Boulder, he collaboratively led efforts to develop and implement a new organizational framework for the changing library there, and he was a member of the 2011-12 cohort of the Association of Research Libraries’ Research Libraries Leadership Fellows program. We are absolutely thrilled that John has come to the University of Iowa, and I am absolutely delighted to welcome him to the podium now.