Update from the April 23-24 Board of Regents Meeting

Friday, April 25, 2014

Dear UNI Family,

The month of April has been filled with outstanding awards, recognition events, and programs inviting prospective students and their parents to campus. To name just a few, we've had the Teacher Education Convocation, Alumni in Residence program, Y Factor Military Summit, Nonprofit Leadership Luncheon, Faculty Advising and Service Awards, Student Leadership Awards and several well-attended Panther Open House events.

In two weeks, we look forward to conferring degrees to more than 1,650 students and honoring 2nd Lt. Robert John Hibbs, a 1964 graduate who is UNI's only Medal of Honor recipient, which is the highest military honor, awarded for personal acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty. The spring Commencement ceremony marks the 50th anniversary of his graduation.

The Board of Regents meeting was held April 23-24 at the Iowa School for the Deaf. The following is a brief summary of the items highlighted at the meeting and some actions taken.

New Northern Iowa Student Government Leadership

We introduced UNI's new student body president, Kevin Gartman, a senior business teaching major from Waukee; and vice president, Paul Andersen, a junior public administration major from Pella. We commended Tom Madsen and Blake Findley on an extraordinary job completed this past year. Their leadership skills are impressive, and they are both well prepared to excel in their careers after graduation.

UNI is a community-engaged university

One unique aspect about UNI is our high level of community engagement and academic service learning. Some aspects illustrating the high level of commitment our faculty, staff and students have to community engagement include:

Since 2006, we have been classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a “community-engaged university,” which is defined as the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their communities for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources. This classification affirmed our commitment to a culture focused on both curricular engagement and outreach and partnerships.

During the 2012-13 academic year, approximately 6,300 UNI students engaged in academic service learning for a total of 480,117 community service hours. Out of those students, approximately 2,862 engaged in at least 20 hours of community service.

One example of this type of service is our student-led organization UNI Hardwoods, which initiated planting 6,500 trees in Cedar Falls on April 12.

On April 15, the Center for Violence Prevention (CVP), led by professor Annette Lynch and Alan Heisterkamp, who in partnership with Lt. Col. Glen Keith from UNI's ROTC program, and special guest Maj. Gen. Anthony A. Cucolo, Commandant of the U.S. Army War College, held the Y Factor Iowa: Military Summit. The summit highlighted the CVP's engaging programs that focus on turning the silent bystander into the engaged leader, and moving peer groups toward active engagement and action to interrupt, stop and not tolerate sexual violence.

On April 16, the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance Student Association celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Cedar Valley Nonprofit Awards Luncheon. Students in the association will earn a bachelor’s degree and a Certified Non-Profit Professional Credential, a qualification that is ONLY available at UNI. The student association has honored more than 72 individuals and 45 faculty for their community engagement projects. Three of the many faculty who were recognized at this awards luncheon include: 

  • Jennifer Cooley, associate professor of languages and literatures, who engaged with area Latinos in meaningful dialogue with Spanish-speaking UNI students via listening posts.

  • Kamyar Enshayan, director for the Center for Energy and Environmental Education, is partnering with a team of UNI students and faculty, the Northeast Iowa Food Bank staff and ISU Extension in the implementation of a fresh-vegetable garden at the food bank.

  • Tim Kidd, associate professor of physics, is providing K through 12 schools hands-on discovery kits of superconductivity, nanotechnology and chaotic motion.

Jepsen selected as Outstanding Advising Award recipient

Associate professor of economics Lisa Jepsen received the Outstanding Advising Award from the National Academic Advising Association, an association of more than 10,000 national members honoring individuals making a significant contribution to the improvement of academic advising and providing service to higher education.

Kiplinger’s Top 25 Value Under $30,000

UNI ranked No. 7 on Kiplinger’s list of the Top 25 Universities and Colleges Under $30,000 a year. This is a great recognition for UNI as we continue to work toward providing the best undergraduate education for Iowans at a reasonable price.

A few highlights from two reports approved by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa:

Annual Student Financial Aid Report

In 2012-13 at UNI:

  • The average loan indebtedness for undergraduate students is the lowest in the state ($23,151) compared to the University of Iowa ($27,304) and Iowa State University ($29,458).

  • 85 percent of all undergraduates (9,040 students) who received institutional aid demonstrated need; 92 percent of these students were Iowa residents.

In 2009-10, UNI's three-year default rate was 4.0 percent, the lowest of all three universities. (U of I 4.1 percent and ISU 5.4 percent)

Annual Governance Report on Faculty Tenure

A total of 32 promotion and tenure actions for the 2014-15 academic year compared to 24 in 2013-14 were approved. In summer 2014, 22 pre-tenure faculty will receive summer fellowships to support their research and creative work. Also, as a result of the re-establishment of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, during the 2013-14 year, 761 faculty, staff and students have attended one or more of 34 faculty development events.

Thank you for all your great work and commitment to UNI! I look forward to Commencement and working on our new strategic plan beginning May 12. Enjoy the remainder of your spring semester and thank you for all your support.

Purple for Life!

Bill Ruud