Thursday, August 29, 2019

And so we begin another exciting fall semester at Iowa!

Bruce Harreld portrait
Bruce Harreld

Returning students, I know you likely share the same sense of anticipation that I do for the days and weeks ahead—reaching new milestones and honing novel skills. Faculty and staff, I know you’re looking forward to a semester of innovative teaching, forward-thinking administration and support, and groundbreaking research. Your successes in the lab, library, office, and classroom never cease to amaze me.

To our brand-new students: Welcome! We’re delighted to have you. I realize you’re only just getting your bearings, and this whole “university” thing may seem frightening, intimidating, liberating, and thrilling all at the same time. I remember that feeling well. To those of you who have been around a while, it may appear as though the more seasoned members of campus have this whole university thing down, but I can assure you we are all still learning and exploring.

And that is exactly what this semester will be about for our university community—learning and exploring.

We as a university have an opportunity this semester and this academic year to define what our university will look like five, 10, and 15 years from now. How we invest in our future today—right now, this semester, this academic year—will materially impact that future.

Why does this matter? Why do we care? Why do we spend so much time on our campus working with our shared governance and why are we asking the community to help set our direction?

To put it simply: Without you—faculty, staff, and students—the university we have today could not exist. We would not be a distinctive university that brings individuals to Iowa City from every corner of this nation and every part of this world. We all have a substantial stake in the future of this incredible institution, and the best way to ensure future success is to build the foundations right now.

This semester will be spent exploring a potential public private partnership (P3) with our utility system. Additionally, we will spend time thinking, listening, and probing how we should spend those resources, if we decide to move forward with the P3 project. A process infused by campus, guided by campus, which ensures campus participation will allow the talent and ideas that exist throughout our community to be unleashed.

The P3, if implemented, will not solve all of the problems that we face. We, as a community, must work together to address a number of other challenges, including restrictions in research spending; the implementation of our diversity, equity, and inclusion action plan; and successfully evolving to meet the needs of a changing campus population. An institution like ours must always adapt. And with your help, I know we can.

I am honored and humbled to have been a part of this remarkable community of scholars, educators, researchers, and students for nearly four years. What makes us different is our community, and it is our community that will lead this remarkable campus to its next great chapter.