President Harreld comments on exciting changes at the university
Thursday, August 25, 2016

Welcome, and welcome back. As those of you returning already know, this is a very exciting time to be at the University of Iowa. But for the new students among us—and it was great to get to meet so many of you at move-in and the Block Party—and for new faculty and staff as well, let me tell you a little bit about some of the big changes that have come to the UI.

The most visible ones, of course, are to Iowa City's skyline. The new Voxman Music Building, the Visual Arts Building, and Hancher are going to change how we practice, create, and perform at the UI. They are physical examples of the innovation and revitalization that this institution houses and produces. But there are less-concrete examples as well—and they are just as exciting.

The first that come to mind are the brand new undergraduate programs in the College of Public Health. Public health faculty and staff spent an incredible amount of time researching and designing curricula that will help undergrads prepare for careers in one of the most important and fastest-growing contemporary fields. Studying public health is an opportunity for our students to make tangible contributions to the well-being of Iowa, the nation, and the world: It is a way to reach people and to make their lives better, and I'm very proud that we're expanding our teaching efforts in such an impactful family of disciplines.

Computer science, too, is going through a renaissance at Iowa. It goes without saying that technology will be an integral part of our future, and this semester marks an important milestone: the creation of the UI's Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering with a major in Computer Science and Engineering. This new program comes from a partnership between the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the College of Engineering and the Department of Computer Science in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; the job placement rate for graduates these two departments is already between 96 and 100 percent, and we believe that combining the two will give students an even greater edge, as well as insight into how technology can best be used to improve our lives. This new degree and major is just the sort of innovative collaboration we endeavor to create at the UI, and it's part of a very important tradition on this campus.

Indeed, we have a long history of innovation at Iowa: The UI College of Pharmacy established the very first hospital pharmacy graduate program, and the founding of the Master of Fine Arts degree allowed students to use creative work as a thesis. The International Writing Program and the Iowa Writers' Workshop are, of course, two other famous examples. I'm especially excited to welcome the newest IWP fellows to our campus—36 writers representing 33 countries. This year, we're adding to the successes of IWP and the workshop with a new endeavor: the undergraduate major in English and creative writing, which brings the workshop-focused style of our master's programs to our undergraduates, giving them even more opportunity to experiment with their craft.

Of course, the changes on campus aren't limited to buildings or areas of study. The most important is that we've welcomed so many new Hawkeyes to the university. There are new faculty and staff and thousands of brand-new students here now, and I'm very excited to see what each of you will bring to the UI in the coming years. In May, I had the honor of asking last year's graduates to take what they've learned here and work to make a better world. I know that they will, and I know that you will too—but that comes later. For now, welcome. And for those of you returning to campus—students, faculty, and staff alike—I won't take up your time with a call to action. You've already made us proud, and I'm certain you will again and again.

This year brings with it a whole host of new opportunities for members of the UI community, and I'm excited to see the university going full steam once more.

Here's to a new year of creation, innovation, and discovery.