Monday, June 9, 2014
Second Street Emporium, Webster City, Iowa


Thank you for inviting me to speak with you today. It’s always a great pleasure to visit our friends in Iowa communities all across the state, and I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to visit with you here in Webster City. It’s an honor to share what’s going on at the university with you, especially how the University of Iowa contributes to your community.

Like all good businesses, we at the UI have a strategic plan, and among our highest priorities are student success and making life better for Iowans. Those two priorities are closely related. The most powerful way for us at the university to make life better in Iowa communities is to educate students well for productive professional and civic lives that raise the quality of life for all.

Currently, 36 students from Hamilton County are benefiting from our student success efforts as currently enrolled UI students. One of those current students is Marilyn Keane, daughter of Dave Keane and Diane Bahrenfuss here in Webster City and a student in the UI’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. We are proud of Mari’s high academic achievement. This past year, she earned a spot on the President’s List, which recognizes students who maintain a 4.0 grade point average two semesters in a row.

We want more students like Mari from Hamilton County and from all across the state. A University of Iowa education is first-rate, and it’s affordable. Undergraduate in-state tuition is frozen for the second year in a row, the first time in forty years, and we’ve increased our financial aid.

We’re currently doing a lot to recruit and graduate Iowa students at the UI. For example, 200 students are taking advantage of an innovative pilot program this summer: the Hawk Tuition Grant, which offers in-state first-year students a full-ride scholarship for up to twelve credit hours for summer classes at no additional expense to the student. This program not only generously supports Iowa students, but it also supports our efforts to increase our four-year graduation rate, which jumped from 48 percent to 51 percent last year.  We will continue to push this rate higher.

You may have heard in the news this past week that our Board of Regents has adopted a new funding model for Iowa’s public universities, which I believe presents exciting new opportunities for the University of Iowa as we focus on achieving the Regents’ priorities. Significant to this funding model is reaching as many Iowa resident students as possible with our high-quality University of Iowa education. We will continue increasing our efforts to recruit more Iowa students for our undergraduate programs while also continuing to attract students from outside the state.   As we move toward full recovery from the flood of 2008, the university is well-positioned for growth.

I am also grateful that the Board of Regents adopted a funding model recognizing that our graduate and professional programs are enormously valuable for the state of Iowa and that they cost more to offer. These University of Iowa programs are among the best in the nation.  We will work to maintain their quality and continue to provide our Iowa communities with the highly skilled doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, lawyers, teachers and other professionals they need.

Let me share with you a few numbers about how we serve the state by educating these professionals. We are very proud that across the 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. How does that translate to Hamilton County?: 6 UI-trained physicians, 5 UI-trained dentists, 4 UI-trained pharmacists, and 25 UI-trained K-12 teachers and administrators.

Some of the current 36 Hamilton County UI students I mentioned earlier will no doubt join the 160 University of Iowa alumni currently living, working, and contributing to their communities here in the county.  And I hope that some of those alumni are in this room today!

Even if you’re not a UI alum, you probably know someone who is here in the Webster City area. If you’ve picked up a prescription very recently at Thrifty White Pharmacy on Willson Avenue, you may have met recent UI Doctor of Pharmacy grad Michelle Terwilliger. Michelle, a Humboldt native, was just hired by Thrifty White as the pharmacist-in-charge after graduating from the University of Iowa this spring.

A recent native Webster City graduate who hopes to practice in Iowa is Michael Moriarty, who just graduated from the UI’s Carver College of Medicine. Michael will soon begin a five-year residency at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.  He’ll get hands-on experience caring for people in the urology clinic there before returning to the university to finish more study, and then, we hope, launch his professional career here in our and his home state.

Of course, UI alumni from across different generations and professions live and work here in Webster City as well. You might, for example, know Webster City native Tim Anderson, a graduate of Webster City High School and a University of Iowa alumnus who is the Commercial Lines Department Manager for Town & Country Insurance. Tim has been in the insurance business since 1990, and he and his wife, Kathy, are raising three daughters here in Webster City.

Another Hometown Hawkeye you might know is Dr. Greg Maharry, who also is a native Iowan. Dr. Maharry moved to Webster City after graduating from high school in Spencer, earning his undergraduate and DDS degrees at the UI, and joining a dental practice in Newton. But in 1991, he purchased a dental practice in Webster City and has been here ever since. Dr. Maharry, who also has three daughters with his wife, Jennifer, has provided a lot of professional dentistry leadership in the area, serving as president of both the Fort Dodge District Dental Society and Study Club.

We at the University of Iowa have a very strong connection with Webster City’s Dr. Subhash Sahai, who received his MD from the University of Iowa and is currently a member of our Board of Regents. Dr. Sahai has been practicing medicine in Webster City since 1976 and is currently president of the Webster City Medical Clinic. Not only has he provided tremendous health care for many area residents, but he has also provided generous community service throughout the years. And not only does Dr. Sahai help govern our state’s public universities, but he also serves as a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Practice at the University of Iowa.

These and many more UI alumni pursued their education in the traditional way as on-campus students. In today’s economic and educational environment, however, not all students are able to spend four or more years in residence on our campus. So we are doing all we can to increase access to our programs for Iowa students directly in their home communities.

Over the past several years, I have signed agreements with all of Iowa’s community colleges to expand the promise of education statewide, including, of course, Iowa Central Community College. In addition to making it easier for students to transfer from local community colleges to the university, these agreements have created collaborative on-site and distance-learning degree and certificate programs that allow students to get a UI education right at home. These programs include associate’s-to-bachelor’s degree completion programs, RN-to-BSN completion programs for nurses, bachelor of applied and liberal studies degrees, and certificates in entrepreneurial management, nonprofit management, and public health.

And in a brand-new program, the UI College of Law, recognizing that time and financial resources are precious, is embarking on new partnerships with several outstanding Iowa undergraduate institutions, including Storm Lake’s Buena Vista University, Iowa State University in Ames, and Sioux City’s Morningside College, allowing students to earn their bachelor’s and law degrees in six years. This 3+3 program will save students thousands of dollars in tuition and other costs and give them a one-year head start on their law careers.

Of course, the University of Iowa reaches out to and impacts Iowa citizens in many ways besides educating students. For example, the UI contributes to the quality of life in Hamilton County through direct economic impact. Last year, the UI supported 13 Hamilton County companies with purchases of over 27 thousand dollars.

And because we know not everyone can travel to Iowa City, we work hard to share our knowledge and resources in communities throughout the state. Next week, for example, UI College of Public Health Dean Sue Curry and a team of faculty are meeting in Algona with business and health leaders to discuss cyber-bullying. There will also be breakout sessions on other important topics such as aging, community engagement, and workplace wellness. We offered a similar event here in Webster City last spring and had a great turnout. I believe former Mayor Janet Adams was there, and perhaps others in this room today were as well. If you’re interested in attending next week’s event, see me after the talk, and I can provide you with more details.

I cannot leave you today without sharing one more wonderful Webster City/University of Iowa connection: a six-year-old girl here in town named Kyleigh Burlingame and her family. We were delighted and inspired last fall when Kyleigh was our Kid Captain at the Iowa-Ohio State football game. When Kyleigh was three, she was diagnosed with Doose syndrome, a unique form of childhood epilepsy. When traditional anti-epileptic medications did little to control Kyleigh’s increasingly severe seizures, the Burlingames were referred to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. I am proud and delighted that our world-renowned physicians and staff have been able to significantly control Kyleigh’s condition with a special diet that, as her mom Tiffany says, helped her “sing her ABCs again…clap her hands, sing her favorite songs, and recognize her favorite shows. It was her miracle.” Tiffany’s confidence in the UI Children’s Hospital was strong to begin with because she grew up in Iowa City. And there’s another special Burlingame family connection at work here: Kyleigh’s grandfather is a welder working on construction of the spectacular new UI Children’s Hospital, which we will open in 2016.

We could not achieve all we do at the university without our close partnership with our alumni and friends and the citizens of Iowa. We are currently moving that essential partnership forward with the most ambitious comprehensive campaign in the university’s and the state’s history. “For Iowa. Forever More: The Campaign for the University of Iowa” not only will benefit generations of UI students, faculty, and staff, but also people throughout the state.

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 here in Webster City.