A message from University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld
Thursday, December 3, 2015
Bruce Harreld portrait
Bruce Harreld

This first month at the University of Iowa has been defined by engagement and understanding. People are passionate about the university—its mission and its future. The collective effort to achieve and to address challenges can be seen in our students, faculty, and staff, including:

  • Jeffrey Ding, our newest Rhodes Scholar and the UI’s 19th student to receive this prestigious award since its founding in 1904.
  • Jasper Halekas, UI associate professor and principal investigator on a NASA satellite instrument designed to test whether solar wind swept away water that had evaporated from Mars’ surface.
  • Lisa James, UI associate director for clinical outreach at UI Student Health & Wellness, who led a team that administered nearly 5,000 MMR booster vaccines in order to protect our students from mumps.

Over the past month, I have met and listened to faculty, students, staff, alumni, legislators, and friends of our university. In these discussions, I have heard repeatedly how our faculty ranks are being thinned, how critical research opportunities are experiencing funding delays, how we might better prepare new instructors for their important classroom responsibilities, and how seemingly important investments in critical areas are being delayed.

These discussions also remind me of the great passion members of our community have for our university, as well as the power of teams. An institution such as Iowa achieves its greatest heights through teamwork, and I believe that teams are the key to moving forward. To that end and to begin dealing with the issues facing us, we have formed two new teams.

Provost Barry Butler will chair a Strategy and Policy Team that will help us develop a shared vision and recommend long-term investments for implementing our vision. Rod Lehnertz, interim senior vice president for finance and operations, will chair a new Operating Team and will focus on short-term issues requiring more immediate attention. By focusing separately on the short and long term, these two new teams will ensure we not only execute well in the short term but also appropriately explore longer-term issues confronting higher education.

Both teams will be staffed by appropriate members from our university community and will be guided by feedback from our entire campus, which will be steered through our shared governance structure. Along with these teams, I will be hosting public forums on a regular basis in order to solicit input from the university community, take questions, and provide status updates on our progress. Our first public forum will be held on the afternoon of Feb. 23; a specific time and location will be forthcoming.

Please mark your calendars and plan to join us for a meaningful dialogue about our future.