President Mason talks affordability, philanthropy, research, and veterans

President Mason talks affordability, philanthropy, research, and veterans

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During the President’s Forum in the Iowa Memorial Union Thursday, Dec. 12, University of Iowa President Sally Mason shared updates with campus leaders about issues ranging from the recent Hawkeye Caucus event in Washington D.C., where she was invited to the White House to discuss college affordability, to campus efforts to support veteran students and an update on the We Are Phil campaign.

Read a full transcript of Mason's remarks at the President's Forum at

Speaking about her visit to the nation’s capital, Mason said she was one of six university presidents invited to the White House to discuss strategies for helping more academically talented students from low-income families attend college.

“We met with Gene B. Sperling, assistant to President Obama on economic policy,” she said. “He asked us to share examples of programs that have succeeded in encouraging enrollment among low-income students. I was pleased to talk about a number of programs here at the UI.”

For example, Mason said, the UI has more than doubled its allocation of undergraduate scholarships and grant money to undergraduate students since she began as president of the UI, from $26 million to $53.9 million. Almost 72 percent of that money goes to high-achieving students who also demonstrate financial need.

Also, last year, about 20 percent of UI’s undergraduate students (about 4,300) were awarded federal Pell grants based solely on financial need.

“Our Center for Diversity and Enrichment in the Chief Diversity Office offers numerous programs to support underrepresented students, first-generation students, and students from low-income families,” she added.

Regarding We Are Phil, Mason said that the public launch of the faculty-staff campaign has concluded and that the campus saw "incredible support from our faculty and staff."

Mason also talked about the ongoing challenge of garnering federal research funding.

"Although overall funding fell in FY2013 as compared to FY2012, this was driven by federal declines; all other major sources of funding at the UI actually increased," she said. "For example, funding from industry is up 7 percent. This is important not only to support the research enterprise here on campus, but also to fulfill our commitment to transferring the fruits of research to businesses in Iowa through technology transfer.

"In FY13, we received funding from about 180 new sources that had not funded UI researchers previously," she added. "These efforts on the part of our faculty are very much in keeping with Vice President (for Research and Economic Development) Dan Reed’s intention to diversify our funding portfolio and generally 'play a new game' with regard to identifying new sources for research support."

As part of this strategy, Mason said Reed has enlisted Lewis-Burke, a federal relations consulting firm in Washington, D.C., to help UI faculty proactively shape the federal funding environment. Reed's office also inaugurated an “ideation” process this fall that brings together the UI's best and brightest faculty to identify new research frontiers that will distinguish the UI in the years ahead and attract new resources for research.

"The research environment is clearly challenging at the moment and will continue to be for some time to come given the situation in Washington, D.C.," she said. "But we have always had a tradition of being innovative and agile in our research enterprise at Iowa, and I have every confidence that we will continue making imaginative and practical discoveries that will make life better for people across our state, nation, and world."


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


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