Two exceptional faculty honored with prestigious new award
Thursday, May 14, 2020

Professor Corinne Peek-Asa and Professor Caroline Tolbert were named the inaugural awardees of the new UI Distinguished Professorship program by the University of Iowa Office of the Provost.

The provost’s office partnered with UI colleges to launch the program this spring to recognize tenured scholars of national and international distinction who are having a significant positive impact within the state of Iowa and beyond through teaching, research, scholarship, and artistic creation. The Distinguished University Professor ranks highly among the honors bestowed by the UI on faculty members.

“I am proud to recognize these faculty who have made truly exceptional contributions to the university, state, and world,” says Montserrat Fuentes, executive vice president and provost. “It is so important that we celebrate and reward faculty excellence, and this is a wonderful and meaningful new way to do that. These Distinguished University Professors bring honor and recognition to the university, and they inspire all of us to continue striving to do our best work.”

In addition to support for their professional activities, awardees will hold the title of Distinguished University (Associate) Professor for the duration of their faculty appointment at Iowa. They will be honored at a reception in the coming year. In addition, UI leadership hopes that the award will support faculty recruitment and retention efforts.

“I can’t thank Provost Fuentes enough for starting the Distinguished University Professorship program,” says Joseph Yockey, president of the Faculty Senate and professor and Michael and Brenda Sandler Faculty Fellow in Corporate Law in the College of Law. “These awards would be exciting any year, but given all that’s happened this semester, it feels especially wonderful to pause and recognize the remarkable success of two of our brightest faculty colleagues. Serving on the selection committee and seeing so many deserving nominees was also a nice reminder of the incredible scholarly richness all around us—and that, too, is something worth celebrating.”

The advisory committee recommended nominees for approval based on their demonstrated achievements; the future promise of their research, teaching, or scholarship; and a record of interdisciplinary activities in their professional work.

corinne peek-asa

Corinne Peek-Asa, College of Public Health
Peek-Asa began teaching at the UI in 2001, serves as associate dean for research and professor in the College of Public Health, and is director of the Injury Prevention Research Center and the UI International Trauma and Violence Research Training Program. She often is described as the leading injury control researcher of her generation. Her work has inspired national legislation, and she helped develop injury and violence data collection systems in five countries. She created a workplace violence prevention program that was implemented in eight U.S. cities and she collaborated with the Cedar Rapids Community School District to create an innovative and unique arts-based bullying prevention toolkit for educators. She is a widely sought speaker and has served on national boards. On campus, she sits on the executive committee for the UI’s Public Policy Center, where she has developed and conducted research and led grant applications. She has developed courses for new undergraduate programs and service-learning programs with the Cedar Rapids Community School District. She has helped faculty in her college remain competitive as traditional sources of grant funding shrink, and her teaching and research have been recognized with local and national awards. In recognition of outstanding accomplishment for a lifetime record of service and achievement that provides a role model for women and girls, she received the UI May Brodbeck Distinguished Achievement Award. In February 2020, she was the UI’s 37th Presidential Lecturer.

caroline tolbert

Caroline Tolbert, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Tolbert began teaching at the UI in 2006 and is a professor of political science. She is an internationally known scholar in areas of opportunity and inequality; elections and representation; technology policy; local economic development; and politics and policy for states, counties, metros, and neighborhoods. Her research is foundational for understanding the internet’s influence on politics and inequality, and she has been ranked among the top 40 most cited female political scientists. Her books and articles have been published by highly ranked political science publishers and journals. She is the coauthor of Accessible Elections: How the States can Help Americans Vote, and Why Iowa? How Caucuses and Sequential Elections Improve the Presidential Nominating Process. With Karen Mossberger, she co-authored three books on the internet, economic opportunity, and political participation. She is the past president of the State Politics and Policy section of the American Political Science Association. Recently, she contributed to economic development in Iowa through grants to study and compile data on the effect of broadband access on economic outcomes. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Democracy Fund, MacArthur Foundation, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and others. On campus, she collaborates with the Department of Urban and Regional Planning on its graduate program in public affairs, and she creates courses on timely issues such as the role of social media in politics.

Peek-Asa and Tolbert were selected from nine nominees submitted to and considered by an advisory committee comprising:

  • Lois Geist, associate provost for faculty, professor of internal medicine in the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine;
  • Jay Holstein, J.J. Mallon Teaching Chair in Judaic Studies in the Department of Religious Studies;
  • Keri Hornbuckle, Donald E. Bently Professor of Engineering in the UI Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering;
  • Budd Tucker, Howard Ruby Chair for Regenerative Ophthalmology and Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences in the Carver College of Medicine; and
  • Joseph Yockey, president of the Faculty Senate and professor and Michael and Brenda Sandler Faculty Fellow in Corporate Law in the College of Law.

More information is available on the Office of the Provost website.