U of Iowa President Mason shares welcome

Sally Mason, President, University of Iowa
Sally Mason, President, University of Iowa

"On behalf of the faculty, staff, and students of the University of Iowa, I welcome the University of Nebraska–Lincoln community to the Big Ten Conference. Your long history of academic and athletic excellence makes us proud to count you among our very special membership.

As our football teams prepare to play the inaugural Heroes Game in Lincoln on Nov. 25, let me introduce you to some aspects of the University of Iowa.

At Iowa, we provide excellence and accessibility in education, conduct groundbreaking research, undertake revolutionary creative endeavor, dedicate ourselves to diversity, and enhance higher education’s role in public life. Undergraduate, graduate, and professional students find a rich, vibrant, innovative, and affordable academic experience. The UI is one of the nation’s academic leaders. As we hold onto our traditions and our strengths, we also look forward to a future marked by increasing distinction and new discovery.

Student success is our highest priority, and we aspire to be known for the most student-centered experience in the Big Ten. What’s special about the high-quality education at Iowa is that we provide a small college experience in a large university setting, creating a sense of community among our students through small first-year seminars with our most talented professors, specialized living-learning communities in our residence halls, and other programs.

We also offer students unique opportunities to directly assist professors who are working on cutting-edge discoveries. And in addition to the wealth of extra- and co-curricular activities on our campus — from athletics to the arts to community service — students can develop their leadership skills through such programs as the President’s Leadership Class and the Career Leadership Academy.

As an internationally renowned research university, Iowa is committed to excellence and innovation in knowledge and practice. For decades, we have been known for the best in health care and medical research and education. The Pappajohn Biomedical Institute, now under construction, will be a center for the science of saving lives that unites expertise and resources from across the University to address some of the world’s most devastating diseases and conditions.

Our innovative interdisciplinary water sustainability cluster is already addressing some of the most critical issues of our time through research and applied knowledge in areas ranging from flooding to oil spills.

We are developing a groundbreaking interdisciplinary research cluster in the digital public humanities. And our two universities have collaborated on the Walt Whitman Archive, a project between UI and UNL scholars that has been blazing a trail in this area for more than a decade.

Iowa is known for its innovation in creativity and for constantly expanding new frontiers in the arts. We were the first university to offer academic credit for creative work, inventing the MFA degree and creating the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, a program second to none in the world. That reputation and the incredible cultural vibrancy of our home community have led Iowa City to be designated the first City of Literature in North America, and the third in the world, by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.

Out of the adversity of the great flood of 2008, we are now in the very exciting early stages of a full-blown renaissance of our arts campus, which will include a new studio arts building designed by world-renowned architect Steven Holl, a vibrant new School of Music and recital hall complex in downtown Iowa City, and a new Hancher Auditorium that will be the latest creation of the globally recognized Pelli Clarke Pelli architectural firm. When we are finished, we will have the most advanced arts campus in the country, a model for what creativity in the university looks like in the 21st century.

As a public state university, we are always committed to making life better for Iowans. We do this throughout all aspects of our mission:

• We are extending our educational reach throughout the state through partnerships with our community colleges that provide on-site and distance learning certificate and degree programs in Iowans’ home communities.

• We are expanding the services and locations of the renowned UI Hospitals and Clinics, which already host nearly a million clinic visits and patient admissions each year.

• Our arts programs extend throughout Iowa, such as when Hancher Auditorium launches free outdoor performances and sponsors school visits by Ballet West II and UI Department of Dance members in a number of communities this year.

And the UI plays a major role in Iowa’s economy. Our recent economic impact study by Tripp Umbach and Associates revealed that our university generates $6 billion, or $1 out of every $30, of our state’s annual economy.

The people of the state of Iowa are justifiably proud of their university, and I hold that legacy in hand with a profound sense of stewardship. While we honor and build upon the UI’s heritage, and while we continue to renew our physical campus, we move together into a future of endless opportunity for all through the promise of new knowledge.

I am thrilled to be part of a University of Iowa community that is talented, dedicated, and caring. And I’m excited to count the University of Nebraska–Lincoln as a valued member of our Big Ten community. We hope you’ll have the chance to visit our campus — perhaps for next year’s Heroes Game, but hopefully sometime sooner."

- Sally Mason, President
University of Iowa