2010 Legislative Updates

IMSEP important for future

December 2, 2010

Below is an op-ed that appeared in the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier.

Posted: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 12:00 pm

Now in its second year, reports from the Iowa Math and Science Education Partnership give reason for optimism.

Funding problems for the partnership, however, tempers that outlook.

Since their inception, IMSEP programs have touched about 26,000 students, 1,700 teachers and 100 faculty and staff members statewide

It was reported in 2008 that there were about 100 physics teachers nearing retirement across the state at that time, but only 14 such teaching students graduating.

Work over the past two years with a teacher recruitment program is partially to thank for an increase in the number of students enrolled in math and science teaching majors at the University of Northern Iowa and Iowa State University.

Still, Jeff Weld, director of the Iowa Math and Science Partnership, says that it will be hard to tell the reach of their programs until this year's high school sophomores and juniors are headed off to college.

We have been hearing for years that our nation is losing ground in the areas of math and science.

"The economists and national thinkers see it. The presidents of universities see it. But a lot of citizens are just quietly going about their lives," Weld said.

There was enough awareness that the partnership was formed with a state-appropriated budget of $4 million - a budget that was expected to grow in each of the succeeding five years.

Statewide budget cuts scaled back the budget to $3.2 million in fiscal year 2010 and to just $1.8 million in the current year.

In order to gain ground internationally, we are going to have to make some tough decisions on priorities, hopefully with an eye toward a better future.

Consider that, according to the "Tapping America's Potential" report completed by the Kauffman Foundation, American fourth-graders are on par with their international counterparts in science and math testing. By 12th grade, they are falling to the bottom of the list.

Those are the sort of reports that would lead us to question the decision to pour tens of millions of dollars into new preschool resources in Iowa, while cutting programs such as IMSEP. Perhaps we need to continue working on fixing the reasons we are losing these kids educationally between the fourth and 12th grades.

For a long time, we have been aware that we were falling behind other countries in producing the engineers needed in today's global work force and economy. We understand that the teachers who prepare students in math, science and technology are at a premium. However, this information is meaningless if we decide to do nothing with it.

"If you peel away everything and get down to the brass tacks of it, if we fail at everything else, what we had better succeed at is bringing in and producing more quality math and science teachers," Weld told The Courier a year ago.

The Iowa Math and Science Education Partnership is doing something about it. And we need to continue with such endeavors if we wish to continue to compete effectively in the global economy.


UNI receives $10 million gift for Imagine the Impact campaign

October 25, 2010

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- The University of Northern Iowa has announced the national launch of its $150 million Imagine the Impact campaign, the largest campaign in its history. The campaign, which began in 2005, has raised $109 million and is scheduled to continue through 2013.

The University of Northern Iowa's Imagine the Impact campaign has received a commitment of $10 million from Mark C. Oman (B.A. '76) and Jill Fuerhoff Oman (B.A. '85) of West Des Moines. Their gift will be used to fund scholarships for UNI students. This represents the largest gift ever received from a UNI graduate and the largest commitment ever received for student scholarships.

The Omans are making their gift as a challenge to encourage other UNI alumni and friends to support the Imagine the Impact campaign. Mark Oman is the co-chair of the campaign and a member of the UNI Foundation Board of Trustees.

Mark Oman is senior executive vice president of Wells Fargo & Company. "UNI will always be a very special place for my wife and me," said Mark Oman. "It gave us an outstanding education in business and in the liberal arts, preparing us for successful and satisfying careers and lives. We hope our gift will enable future students to enjoy the same educational advantages that we found at UNI."

"We are honored that the Oman's have made this very generous commitment to UNI," said UNI President Ben Allen. "Thanks to their support, the Oman's will have a profound impact on future generations of students at the University of Northern Iowa."

The Imagine the Impact campaign focuses on raising funds for scholarships and faculty and program support. To date, gifts from alumni and friends have created 206 new scholarships and 154 new funds to support fellowships, professorships, undergraduate research, visiting artist series and travel abroad opportunities for students and faculty.

Campaign co-chairs are Mark Oman (B.A. '76), senior executive vice president, Wells Fargo & Company, and Beverly Riess (M.A. '78), UNI Des Moines-area student-teacher and community- outreach coordinator.

To learn more about the Imagine the Impact campaign, visit www.uni-foundation.org.


Get to know your candidates!

October 4, 2010

We are in the final sprint to the 2010 election. Here is a link to the candidate list throughout all of Iowa. 25 members of the Iowa Senate and all 100 members of the Iowa House are up for election as well as the Governor.

 
Get to know your candidates before you pull the lever on November 2!


UNI and Iowa Community Colleges announce Admissions Partnership Program

September 27, 2010

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- Students admitted to Iowa's community colleges who plan to pursue a bachelor's degree at the University of Northern Iowa can now sign up for the Admissions Partnership Program to streamline the transfer process.

Ten of the 15 community college presidents have already signed the Admissions Partnership Program agreements. The remaining five community colleges will complete the signings on the UNI campus Thursday, Sept. 30. The community colleges are Western Iowa Tech Community College, Northwest Iowa Community College, Southeastern Community College, Southwestern Community College and Indian Hills Community College.

"UNI has a long history of working with Iowa's community colleges, which play an important role in providing higher education to Iowans," UNI President Ben Allen said. "This new partnership with the community colleges gives students a direct link to UNI from the day they sign up for the Admissions Partnership Program, and we believe it will make earning a bachelor's degree a reality for more and more Iowans."

Through the program, community college students who plan to pursue bachelor's degrees at UNI will receive special benefits to help pave the way for academic success at both schools. Students accepted into the program while enrolled at the community college will benefit from:

  • Guaranteed admission to UNI, provided all requirements are met.
  • A transfer plan that will allow for maximum applicability of coursework.
  • Career exploration programs for undecided students.
  • Timely progress toward graduation.
  • Academic advising at both the community college and UNI from the point of acceptance into the Admissions Partnership Program.
  • Early orientation and scheduling for the first semester at UNI
  • Guaranteed placement in UNI housing, provided the student complies with established residence policies and application procedures and deadlines.
  • Receipt of updated UNI materials and information about campus events and opportunities.
  • Updated community college transcripts automatically sent to UNI at the end of each semester.

Students who want to be a part of the UNI Admissions Partnership Program must enroll at their community college as a degree-seeking student in a program appropriate for the transfer and then apply to the program. Once accepted into the Admissions Partnership Program, the student will meet with a community college adviser/counselor each semester to select course work that meets UNI's transfer requirements and consult with a UNI adviser each semester prior to transfer.


UNI Reading Recovery Center receives U.S. Department of Education grant

September 22, 2010

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa--More than 10,000 Iowa first graders who struggle to read, will receive intense literacy assistance in the next five years. A new $45.6 million U.S. Department of Education grant awarded $3,096,000 to UNI's Reading Recovery Center.

Reading Recovery has been helping first graders who struggle to learn to read for years. The 12 to 20 week program is a highly effective one-to-one literacy intervention that prepares specialized teachers to work with students that fall in the lowest quarter of their class and are having the greatest difficulty learning to read and write.

UNI, along with 14 other colleges and universities with Reading Recovery Training Centers, will be the recipient of the Department of Education's "Investing in Innovations" (i3) grant, led by Ohio State University. The new grant will allow the partner universities to give more attention to schools with large proportions of English Language Learner (ELL) students, schools that have been identified for Title I corrective action and low-achieving or high poverty rural schools.

"We will now be able to prepare 50 new Reading Recovery teachers and provide the intervention to 2,250 of Iowa's first graders each year for the next five years," said Salli Forbes, director of UNI's Reading Recovery program. "We will also begin preparing one teacher leader this year who has already been identified from the new Reading Recovery site in Ottumwa."

The funding approach, which brings together government, philanthropy and business, represents a new way to drive innovation in education. The Department of Education requires documentation from the 15 colleges and universities showing a 20 percent private sector match of $9.1 million in order to receive the federal award. The matching funds will go directly to pay for Reading Recovery teacher tuition and direct costs of the participating teachers. The Department of Education is providing $2,446,025 of the grant awarded to UNI, with private funds and in-kind gifts to provide the rest of the grant.

The R.J. McElroy Trust supplied UNI with $150,000 towards its matching funds. "We're proud that UNI's expertise and innovation in literacy is putting it in the national spotlight," said Stacy Van Gorp, executive director of the R.J. McElroy Trust. "The grant was a great opportunity to help UNI leverage public and private resources to make sure every child in Iowa gets off to a strong start in reading."

"This latest gift is an example of McElroy's long history of supporting the education of Iowa students," said Forbes. "We are very thankful for their support of the teachers and students of northeast Iowa."

According to Forbes, the Reading Recovery Council of Iowa will also be partnering to offer an additional $50,000 grant for teacher leader preparation and may be providing other matching grants for the preparation of Reading Recovery teachers during the next five years. "The Reading Recovery Council of Iowa's ongoing support of children's literacy achievement is greatly appreciated," said Forbes.

UNI's Reading Recovery Center of Iowa is the only Reading Recovery university training center in Iowa.


Richard O. Jacobson pledges $11 million to create literacy center at UNI

August 19, 2010

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- Des Moines businessman Richard O. Jacobson has pledged $11 million to create the Richard O. Jacobson Center for Comprehensive Literacy at the University of Northern Iowa, pending approval by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa. This is the largest gift the Richard O. Jacobson Foundation has made, and the largest gift ever to UNI.

The Center will focus on educating, coaching and mentoring teachers and administrators to develop effective instructional practices based on current reading research. Start-up support of $1 million will prepare UNI faculty and literacy coaches in selected partner schools. Professional development for teachers will impact the literacy learning of all students in the schools. An endowment of $10 million will support the expansion of the program to schools throughout Iowa as well as continue to strengthen UNI's work in preparing new teachers, serving current teachers and conducting research on best practices in literacy education.

Jacobson said, "Learning to read is the most important aspect of education and the foundation for all subsequent learning. UNI has long been known for excellence in preparing teachers and especially teachers in reading. I am pleased to partner with UNI to impact the children of Iowa."

"To have a non-alum and business leader of his stature invest in UNI is the strongest affirmation to our vision of being the nation's leading resource on pre-K through 12 issues," said UNI president Ben Allen. "Dick's gift reflects his commitment to the youth of Iowa and his understanding of the critical relationship between quality education, particularly reading, and economic development."

Dwight C. Watson, dean of UNI's College of Education, said, "This generous gift allows us to address literacy development of current and future students, and especially students of color and students with low socio-economic backgrounds. We will implement training through partner schools as well as the Research and Development School at UNI to successfully close the achievement gap for students with learning challenges. This model will be replicated across Iowa."

Jacobson, a Belmond, Iowa, native is the founder of Jacobson Companies. Beginning in 1968 with a single Des Moines warehouse, Jacobson grew the warehouse facilities to more than 30 million square feet, while expanding the company into a business encompassing eight separate companies and employing more than 6,500 people in 27 states. He was also one of the original investors in Hawkeye Renewables, one of the largest producers of ethanol in the United States.

Jacobson's gift is part of the $150 million Imagine the Impact Campaign for the University of Northern Iowa. The campaign focuses on scholarships, faculty and program support.


UNI and Iowa Central Community College announce Admissions Partnership Program

June 12, 2010

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- Students admitted to Iowa Central Community College who plan to pursue a bachelor's degree at the University of Northern Iowa can now sign up for the Admissions Partnership Program to streamline the transfer process.

UNI President Ben Allen and ICCC President Dan Kinney signed the Admissions Partnership Program agreement Friday, June 11.

'UNI has a long history of working with Iowa's community colleges, which play an important role in providing higher education to Iowans,' Allen said. 'This new connection to Iowa Central Community College gives students a direct link to UNI from the day they sign up for the Admissions Partnership Program, and we believe it will make earning a bachelor's degree a reality for more and more Iowans.'

Through the program, ICCC students who plan to pursue bachelor's degrees at UNI will receive special benefits to help pave the way for academic success at both schools. Students accepted into the program while enrolled at ICCC benefit from:

  • Guaranteed admission to UNI, provided all requirements are met.
  • Timely progress toward graduation. With the exception of some UNI programs, participation enables students who stay on track to begin at ICCC and graduate from UNI in a total of eight semesters.
  • Option to lock-in bachelor's degree requirements with the same status as a student who enrolls directly at UNI as an entering freshman.
  • Academic advising at both ICCC and UNI from the point of acceptance into the Admissions Partnership Program.
  • -Early orientation and scheduling for the first semester at UNI.
  • Guaranteed placement in UNI housing, provided the student complies with established residence policies and application procedures and deadlines.
  • Access to UNI campus and student resources.
  • Receipt of updated UNI materials and information about campus events and opportunities.
  • Updated ICCC transcripts automatically sent to UNI at the end of each semester.

Students who want to be a part of the ICCC-UNI Admissions Partnership Program must enroll at ICCC as a degree-seeking student in a program appropriate for the transfer and then apply to the program. Once accepted into the Admissions Partnership Program, the student will meet with an ICCC adviser/counselor each semester to select course work that meets UNI's transfer requirements and consult with a UNI adviser each semester prior to transfer. In addition to one-on-one work with Admissions Partnership Program students, UNI will collaborate with ICCC to provide career exploration programs to undecided students, provide a transfer plan to allow for maximum applicability of coursework to the student's designated degree program, and provide opportunities for participating students to take part in a number of activities and services at no charge.


Dwight Watson named UNI dean of the college of education

May 24, 2010

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- Dwight C. Watson has been named dean of the College of Education at the University of Northern Iowa. Watson will assume his new duties at UNI on July 1. The appointment is contingent upon approval by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, at its June meeting.

'Dr. Watson brings a strong background in academic leadership, and a strong commitment to education leadership and outreach in early childhood education through collegiate education systems,' said Gloria Gibson, executive vice president and provost at UNI. 'I look forward to working with him to elevate UNI's educator-preparation programs at the state and national level and in partnering with the K-12 school systems to provide highly qualified educators.'

Watson is currently the associate dean of the Teacher Education Program, chair of the Department of Education Studies and professor in the College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Watson earned his Ed. D. in curriculum and instruction at North Carolina State University and his M.A. and B.A. degrees in elementary education from the University of South Carolina.

Prior to his current position, he was the chair of the Departments of Curriculum & Instruction and Foundations of Education in the College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He was also the interim director of the Center for Excellence in Urban Education at Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minn. Watson taught elementary and middle grade students in North and South Carolina and won the Teacher of the Year Award for Wake County, N. C.

Other finalists for the position included Paul Theobald, Woods-Beals Endowed Chair in Urban and Rural Education and interim associate provost and dean of the Graduate School at Buffalo State College; Brad Colwell, associate dean for academic and student affairs, College of Education and Human Services and professor in the Department of Educational Administration and Higher Education at Southern Illinois University; and Jerry Thomas, dean, College of Education and professor of kinesiology, health promotion and recreation at the University of North Texas.

The new dean will replace Bill Callahan, who has served as dean since 2007.


UNI featured by The Princeton Review and U.S. Green Building Council in just-published 'Guide to 286 Green Colleges'

April 28, 2010

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- The University of Northern Iowa is one of the country's most environmentally responsible colleges, according to The Princeton Review. The nationally known education services company selected UNI for inclusion in a unique resource it has created for college applicants -- 'The Princeton Review's Guide to 286 Green Colleges.'

Developed by The Princeton Review in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the 'Guide to 286 Green Colleges' is the first free comprehensive guidebook focused solely on institutions of higher education that have demonstrated an above-average commitment to sustainability in terms of campus infrastructure, activities and initiatives.

The guide is based on a survey of hundreds of colleges nationwide and profiles the nation's most environmentally responsible campuses. From solar panel study rooms to the percentage of budget spent on local/organic food, it looks at an institution's commitment to building certification using USGBC's LEED green building certification program; environmental literacy programs; formal sustainability committees; use of renewable energy resources; recycling and conservation programs, and much more.

The free guide can be downloaded at www.princetonreview.com/greenguide and www.usgbc.org/campus.

'Students and their parents are becoming more and more interested in learning about and attending colleges and universities that practice, teach and support environmental responsibility,' said Robert Franek, senior vice president and publisher, The Princeton Review. 'According to our recent College Hope & Worries Survey, 64 percent of college applicants and their parents said having information about a school's commitment to the environment would impact their decision to apply to or attend it. We created this guide to help them evaluate how institutions like UNI focus on environmental responsibility so that they can make informed decisions as they move through the college assessment and application process.'

UNI joins the ranks of outstanding universities and colleges nationwide that are leading the 'green' movement through their own special programs and initiatives.

'Education and awareness of sustainability issues have been building for many years and in many capacities at UNI, including academics, facilities, outreach and programs and student involvement,' said UNI President Benjamin Allen. 'With the recent hiring of Eric O'Brien to serve as UNI's first university sustainability coordinator, I am confident our efforts will continue to grow and sustainability will become a key component in all university activities.'

The Princeton Review noted that another unique aspect of the guide is that it provides important information on schools that have dedicated environmental studies curriculums. 'By many accounts, there are going to be a lot of job opportunities related to the environment and sustainability,' Franek said. 'For those who are interested in working in this growing sector, the guide highlights the schools that are doing an especially good job in preparing and placing the next generation of green professionals.'

How the Schools Were Chosen:

The Princeton Review chose the 286 schools included in the Guide based on the 'Green Rating' scores the schools received in summer 2009 when The Princeton Review published Green Rating scores for 697 schools in its online college profiles and/or annual college guidebooks. The Princeton Review's Green Rating is a numerical score from 60 to 99 that's based on several data points. In 2008, The Princeton Review began collaborating with USGBC to help make the Green Rating survey questions as comprehensive and inclusive as possible. Of 697 schools that The Princeton Review gave Green Ratings to in 2009, the 286 schools in the Guide received scores in the 80th or higher percentile. The Princeton Review does not rank the schools in this book hierarchically (1 to 286) or in any of its books based on Green Rating scores.