Students, staff, faculty, and community members enjoy week of events
Monday, September 19, 2016

In making his presidency official, Bruce Harreld challenged the UI community to call on its legacy of originality and dare to deliver an Iowa education in a new way.

Harreld told hundreds of dignitaries, faculty, staff, and community members gathered Friday, Sept. 16, for his Presidential Program and Reception that it’s time for the UI to return to the tenet that higher education is for everyone.

And to make that possible, Harreld said, access to the university has to be broadened in a multidisciplinary way.

“We must work with secondary schools and community colleges to improve students’ preparation,” he said. “We must do everything possible to drive down our costs while maintaining our competitiveness with other world-class institutions, and we must continue to expand both our geographic and online reach.”

The program at Hancher Auditorium was the culmination of the UI’s Week of Inspiration and Harreld’s official welcome as the university’s 21st president. The event was emceed by philosophy professor Richard Fumerton and included remarks from President Emeritus Willard J. “Sandy” Boyd and a keynote address by 'Funmi Olonisakin, professor of security, leadership, and development at King's College London.

“President Harreld likes people and has an open and inquiring mind,” Boyd said. “He has a passion to lead our beloved university in pursuing its never-ending educational frontier.”

Olonisakin said that the UI is “a gem in the middle of America” positioned to continue doing great things.

“I think the choice of Bruce Harreld at this point in history means this university is well poised to lead on a global platform during a time of change,” she said.

The presidential program was followed by a UI Alumni Association tailgate party and pep rally, and a free public concert outside Hancher Auditorium, with performances by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue.

The Week of Inspiration began Sunday, Sept. 11, with a student event on the Pentacrest and continued through Thursday, Sept. 15, with 12 public open houses across campus that showcased examples of what makes the UI a top public research university. And each evening throughout the week, the My Iowa Story series featured storytellers form the UI community who shared an important moment in their lives with the help of storyteller Peter Aguero, host of The Moth Radio Hour.

During the morning open houses, members of the public received a behind-the-scenes look at places such as the National Advanced Driving Simulator, the State Hygienic Laboratory, and the UI Power Plant. Students at the College of Pharmacy performed health assessments and gave influenza vaccinations, which Harreld and his wife, Mary, each received.

But it was the open house at Kinnick Stadium that Diane Brunkhorsk and Bridget Hansen, both of Iowa City, looked forward to most. Wednesday morning, the pair dropped off their older children at school and surprised their 4-year-old sons with a tour of the Hawkeye locker room and a chance to play catch in the south end zone.

The boys ran and tumbled across the field until their mothers signaled it was time to leave.

Chase Hansen took a deep breath, sighed, and said, “But I still want to play!”

Calin Brunkhorsk extended a hand and pulled his friend up from the field.“Goodbye, Kinnick Stadium!” they shouted.

In closing his remarks at Friday’s ceremony, Harreld reminded the audience that the UI has never shied away from trying something new.

“As we conclude this Week of Inspiration, let us dare to inspire ourselves to make a difference in this world, just as Iowa originals have done since our university’s founding,” he said. “I dedicate myself to joining all of you on this journey.”