Office of Provost contributes $2M to address challenges related to pandemic, social justice issues

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Thursday, February 4, 2021

The University of Iowa is distributing the first $7.5 million of the investment revenue generated from the public-private partnership (P3) for its utility system. The money will be used to support initiatives to bolster student success and develop and retain faculty, which are key to competing with the university’s larger, better-funded peers.

“The university entered into the P3 so we could fund the strategic plan, which we couldn’t do without additional resources,” says UI President Bruce Harreld. “These investments are the first step toward becoming a destination university that not only serves its home state but competes for the best students and faculty from across the nation and around the globe.”

The $7.5 million in one-time resources for FY21 will enhance student retention and success and improve research opportunities for faculty by:

  • Implementing Hawkeye Introductory Courses, preparatory math and science-based courses that support student success and improve learning outcomes;
  • Expanding IowaRise, a program to connect students with research and engagement opportunities across campus in order to improve educational outcomes;
  • Developing new interdisciplinary research teams, which will increase research-and-discovery activity with funding opportunities ranging from the federal government to private industry; and
  • Deploying the Faculty Support, Retention, and Recruitment Initiative, which seeks to enhance existing professional-development programs and implement new ones in order to increase faculty retention and the recruitment of other talented faculty.

The UI also is investing $2 million from the Office of the Provost in programs to help students make progress toward graduation; improve faculty scholarship opportunities; and support diversity, equity, and inclusion. The one-time resources, achieved through savings and conservative budget practices, are intended to address challenges due to, or exacerbated by, the pandemic and issues related to social justice by:

  • Expanding the Learning Assistant Program, creating small group environments to enhance active and collaborative learning strategies;
  • Expanding the Supplemental Instruction Program with peer-to-peer facilitated group-study sessions;
  • Deploying a Summer Bridge Program to enhance incoming students’ preparation for math, science, and writing courses and transition to college life;
  • Supporting terminal-degree students in completion of their studies;
  • Supporting summer salaries so faculty can pursue instruction and research-and-discovery activities;
  • Providing bridge funding to faculty completing research-and-discovery projects; and
  • Supporting service projects and research that impact underrepresented populations.

The strategic initiatives supported by the first round of P3 funding and the Office of the Provost were identified by the colleges and UI Path Forward work groups.

“The Path Forward work groups over the past several years have done a great job examining our strengths and opportunities and developing proposals for improvement. It’s provided the campus with a blueprint and momentum,” says Harreld. “I am so pleased that through the efforts of the provost, we were able to identify resources to fund several of these initiatives.”

The UI Path Forward Steering Committee, co-chaired by Interim Executive Vice President and Provost Kevin Kregel and Vice President for Research Marty Scholtz, is finalizing the criteria and process for applying for the FY22 round of P3 grants. The criteria will be released to campus later this semester.

About Path Forward

The current four Path Forward work groups, which are composed of campus leaders and members of shared governance, were created in fall 2017 to advance the implementation of Iowa’s Strategic Plan 2016–2021 through targeted investments. The work groups built upon forward momentum created by the first two Path Forward groups that convened in spring 2016.

“We have extraordinary leaders all across our campus. I would especially like to thank the co-chairs of our Path Forward groups,” says Kevin Kregel, interim UI executive vice president and provost. “Without their efforts and the efforts of their work groups, we would not be in a position to invest in improving outcomes for our students, faculty, and staff.”

The Path Forward work group co-chairs include:

  • Cornelia Lang, co-chair for Student Success. Lang is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, as well as associate dean for undergraduate education in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS).
  • Shaun Vecera, co-chair for Student Success. Vecera is a professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences within CLAS.
  • Ted Abel, co-chair for Research and Discovery. Abel is the director of the Iowa Neuroscience Institute, Roy J. Carver Chair in Neuroscience, and professor and chair of Neuroscience and Pharmacology within the Carver College of Medicine.
  • Corinne Peek-Asa, co-chair for Research and Discovery. Peek-Asa is a professor in the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health and associate dean for research in the College of Public Health.
  • Peter Damiano, co-chair for Engagement. Damiano is the director of the Public Policy Center and a professor in the College of Dentistry.
  • Teresa Mangum, co-chair for Engagement. Mangum is the director of the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies and a professor in the Departments of Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies and English.
  • Cheryl Reardon, co-chair for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Reardon is UI chief human resources officer and associate vice president.
  • Julie Zerwic, co-chair for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Zerwic is a professor in and the Kelting Dean of the College of Nursing.