Monday, February 4, 2013
Five Sullivan Brothers Center


Thank you for inviting me to speak with you today. It’s always an honor and pleasure to share what’s going on at the university with our great friends here in Waterloo.

At the University of Iowa, we wish to make life better for people all across Iowa and beyond, and I’d like to talk a little with you today about some of the ways we do that here in the Waterloo area.

Our world-renowned health care research and clinical services are among the most significant ways that we serve people in all of Iowa’s 99 counties. Each year, nearly 27,000 of your own Black Hawk County residents receive service from the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. And last year, an additional 476 county residents received services right here at home through UI Outreach Specialty Clinics and UI Home Care, a visiting nursing program. Area residents are important to community-based research projects, too. For example, Barb Ericson of Waterloo’s Peoples Community Health Clinic currently is working closely with investigators from the University of Iowa Institute for Clinical and Translational Science on a project to identify effective interventions that will improve the health of individuals with diabetes.

Our impact in the Waterloo area goes beyond medical care, too, of course. In purely economic impact terms, last year, the UI supported 81 Black Hawk County companies with purchases of over $10,600,000. And we contribute to the area’s cultural life, as well. Just one example happened last fall. UI students from South Korea joined John Lee, president of the Korean American Society of Iowa, on the UNI campus in Cedar Falls for a moving and uplifting program of songs of gratitude for Iowa Korean War veterans.

Perhaps the most important way that we serve Iowans is by educating students who will not only achieve personal success but contribute significantly to society. This year, we welcomed one of our largest incoming classes ever—nearly 4,500 first-year students. About half of our student body hails from Iowa, and we are very pleased that we saw a two percentage-point increase in our home state residents in that large entering class this year.

Every single Iowa resident student who applies to the University of Iowa and who meets the Regents qualification requirements is automatically admitted. Even with this guaranteed admission, we are redoubling our commitment to enrolling Iowa students through new initiatives such as earlier recruiting contact with students, expanded communication with Iowa high-schoolers, and enhanced scholarship opportunities for Iowans.

This past fall, I was very proud to announce a new scholarship program that I initiated for Iowa resident students called “Golden Pledge: A Presidential Partnership for Student Success.” Through 2017, the program will match the payout from new privately funded endowed scholarships of $100,000 or more. These funds will dramatically enhance the more than $154 million in scholarship support already committed to our students. I very much hope that some of those scholarship funds will go to the 466 current UI students who hail from Black Hawk County, as well as those who will come to us in the near future.

We want to provide the best possible opportunities for all of our students at Iowa. One of our most successful and innovative programs has been of tremendous help to two young women who call Waterloo their hometown, Maurisa Aimable and Chelia Briner. Both Maurisa and Chelia will be graduating this year with biology degrees and with very bright prospects ahead of them thanks to a program called the Iowa Biosciences Advantage. IBA supports the academic and personal success of University of Iowa students who come from underrepresented backgrounds and who are interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in the biosciences. They have access to hands-on research opportunities, a faculty mentor, professional development workshops, tutoring as needed, and a strong community of students, staff, and faculty with common goals. Both Chelia and Maurisa have thrived in this program.  Chelia is a member of Professor of Pediatrics and Biochemistry Andrew Norris’s lab, which is focusing on diabetes research, and she has made multiple poster presentations at the Annual Undergraduate Research Conference hosted by the UI Graduate College. Maurisa, as well, is a multiple-time presenter at this conference.  Her focus is on eye disease, and she is working with Professor of Molecular Biology and Biophysics Michael Anderson.

Waterloo’s legacy among UI alumni is a proud one, with many area natives and new residents going on to prominent careers after graduating from the UI right here in Waterloo.

Robert E. Moulds, for example, graduated in 1970 with a degree in mechanical engineering and started his career with the John Deere Product Engineering Center in Waterloo as a design and test product engineer. He held positions of increasing responsibility and retired as Deere’s vice president of engineering in 2006. Mr. Moulds inspired collaboration between Deere-Waterloo and Deere-Mannheim, Germany, laying the foundation for global teamwork that has guided Deere worldwide. He has provided wonderful service to engineering advisory boards both at the UI and Iowa State, and we are grateful that he remains an active member of the UI Alumni Association.

Someone who came back home here after earning a medical degree and conducting her residency at the University of Iowa is Waterloo native Dr. Cassandra Foens, who is a radiation oncologist with Covenant Cancer Treatment Center. Dr. Foens is a member of our UI Foundation Board of Directors and has been very generous in supporting students in Waterloo, at the UI, and nationally. She has worked with Columbus High School here in town to update their science classrooms, has established a Presidential Scholarship at the UI, and is active in a national organization called Speaking of Women’s Health, which puts on educational events for women in about thirty cities across the country—including Waterloo. Many of our students at the UI know the name of Cassie Foens well, as several years ago, she made a generous gift commitment to create an endowed fund for a major public lecture at the university, which is held during our On Iowa! welcome and orientation week. These very popular lectures have been given by a diverse group of speakers ranging from Dr. Paul Farmer, a world-wide leader in global health and social justice issues, to The Daily Show host Jon Stewart.

Like Cassie Foens, many students come right back here to the Waterloo area or move here after graduation. Over 2,100 UI alumni live and work in Black Hawk County, and that includes 58 dentists, 70 pharmacists, 127 physicians, 173 teachers and school administrators, as well as lawyers, business professionals, and more.

These very talented Waterloo students and alumni found success at the University of Iowa because they took great advantage of the many—and often unique—opportunities that are available to them at our university. We want even more students to reach this level of accomplishment, so one of our current major drives is our student success initiative.

To provide students with the best possible overall collegiate experience, we need to do much more than simply provide classes and turn students loose. We need to be partners with students in this great adventure of higher education, an adventure that takes a lot of planning, engagement, and support.

Our student success programs include such programs as enhanced orientations, first-year seminars, college transition courses, and leadership programs. As well, the living-learning communities we offer in our residence halls extend learning through shared coursework, special programming, optional dinners with faculty, and trips to events on and off campus. Our communities at the UI focus on such areas as the arts, business, education, health sciences, writing, engineering, sustainability, and the global village.

Experiential learning, especially, plays a crucial role in student success today. Study abroad remains a very popular experiential learning choice. Approximately 20 percent of UI students spend some time abroad, whether it’s a full semester or year, or a shorter-term experience.  Often these study abroad experiences are combined with service.  A great recent example is two industrial engineering students—a couple of young women who spent their winter break in Cameroon making solar cookers for rural villages.

Entrepreneurship is one of our most exciting experiential opportunities. The number of our entrepreneurship certificates continues to increase, in areas that range from management to technology to the performing arts. And the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center offers a wealth of programs for our students, including business plan and elevator pitch competitions, seminars and workshops, and actual start-up business support in the Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory. We will see in the video I will share with you in a moment how important the Bedell Lab has been to an ambitious and creative student like Tyler Finchum and his successful Farm Manuals Fast online business.

I would like to close my presentation today with that video about a few of our students at Iowa, but let me first share with you how we are excited about the changing face of our campus.  We are in the midst of transformative times back in Iowa City as we create and renovate facilities for the education, research, creative work, and service of the 21st century.

Our commitment to student success will literally take shape as we complete the new Learning Commons in the Main Library this year, which will feature well-equipped study areas, an innovative and technologically sophisticated classroom, and a renovated café. And our new West Campus Residence Hall, now under construction, will emphasize the living-learning community concept. We’re also moving closer to bringing the hub of student life, the Iowa Memorial Union, back to its full use after the 2008 flood, including new student activity features.

Our arts campus renewal in the wake of the 2008 flood continues as well. Last year, we held a very moving rededication ceremony for the reopening of that magnificent architectural gem, the Steven Holl-designed Art Building West. And as we move forward with building an iconic arts campus for the 21st century, we are inspired by our partnerships with world-renowned architects: with Steven Holl, who is back on board with us to design the new studio arts building, with Pelli Clarke Pelli, our Hancher Auditorium architect; and with the LMN architectural firm of Seattle, our downtown music complex architect.

The developments on our health sciences campus are also very exciting. The new, state-of-the-art Iowa River Landing clinic in Coralville opened just last fall. Our innovations in research are also rising from the ground as the Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building heads toward its 2014 completion. And we are eagerly beginning work on our new $270 million University of Iowa Children’s Hospital, which will further develop a statewide children’s system of care with state-of-the-art equipment and sophisticated health information technology.

As I said, I would like to close my talk today by presenting a video that our talented University Communication and Marketing team has produced called The Hawkeye Way. This video features some of our remarkable UI students and highlights how they have taken advantage of the unique and exciting opportunities that our university offers them.

My goal as president is to ensure that we successfully fulfill—and exceed—the prospects before us in the coming years, and to lead the university in directions that will help us fulfill our mission of teaching, research, and service in the best ways possible. We want to make—and we do make—a tremendous impact on the lives of every Iowan and on people throughout the region, nation, and world. I thank you for the opportunity to share my excitement over the University of Iowa’s bright achievements and prospects with you today.