Branstad, Mason announce plans for Iowa history course, website

Branstad, Mason announce plans for Iowa history course, website

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Joint project involves UI, Iowa Association of Independent Colleges and Universities

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, and University of Iowa President Sally Mason announced today (Thursday, Oct. 24) that the UI and the Iowa Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (IAICU) will jointly develop an online Iowa history course and history resource website that will be made available statewide.

During a news conference Thursday on the UI campus, officials said the course and website are part of a broader effort to expand the state’s college and university offerings to Iowans in innovative, forward-looking ways.

“Providing high-quality, accessible higher education opportunities for the citizens of our state is the University of Iowa’s most important goal,” Mason says. “The world is swiftly changing, both in its technology and in the way students of all ages and backgrounds seek an education. We are excited about this partnership with the Iowa Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and we seek additional opportunities to collaborate.”

Branstad says, "Communities that know and understand their own history are better and stronger for it."

Reynolds adds, "I congratulate the University of Iowa and the private colleges for forging this relationship."

Leading the course development will be Tom Morain, director of governmental relations at Graceland University in Lamoni, former director of history at Living History Farms in Des Moines, and former administrator of Iowa’s State Historical Society. Morain also teaches for and assists Graceland’s Honors Program.

The course, which will roll out in spring 2014 for Graceland students, will eventually be made available to an estimated 48,000 students enrolled at 27 IAICU member schools, which include Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, and Simpson College in Indianola.(Learn more about the IAICU at

IAICU President Gary Steinke said this collaboration is a natural fit for the state's private schools. "Independent colleges and universities grew up right along side the State of Iowa." Steinke says. "Our 27-member institutions have been anchors of their communities for more than 150 years and are still today."

In parallel with the course development, the UI Digital Studio for Public Humanities, under the direction of Professor Jon Winet, will create an online Iowa History Resources website for Iowa history educators and the general public. UI partners for the site include University Libraries’ Digital Resources and Publishing staff, Professor of History Colin Gordon, and a doctoral student in history.

The website will draw on existing university materials as well as provide links to other statewide resources, including Iowa Public Television, Iowa Public Radio, and the State Historical Society of Iowa.

Winet, director of the Digital Studio for Public Arts and Humanities, a campus-wide initiative of the Office of the Provost, says the studio is looking forward to working with the UI Department of History to develop the online resources.

"It's our hope this will be a growing and evolving educational asset for years to come, and we are proud to be part of this statewide Iowa collaboration," he says.


Stephen Pradarelli, University Communication and Marketing, 319-384-0007


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