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Release: July 19, 1999

Skorton sets first public forum to discuss future of International Writing Program

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The first public forum to discuss the future of the International Writing Program (IWP) will be Thursday, July 29 at 7 p.m. in Room W10 (Buchanan Auditorium) of the Papajohn Business Building, UI Vice President for Research David Skorton has announced.

The forum will be co-hosted by Skorton and Provost Jon Whitmore. Members of the eight-person faculty and staff IWP task force chaired by Professor Steven Ungar will be in attendance. The task force has been charged to review the program's fiscal and operational history, to consider the previous program review and other relevant materials, and to recommend future direction for the program.

"At the forum we look forward to hearing from people from both on and off campus who are interested in the destiny of the IWP," said Skorton. "This will be an opportunity for all points of view to be heard."

Skorton, who recently assumed oversight for the IWP, said he is addressing a number of issues facing the program in the upcoming academic year, but is not in a position to make any major, long-term decisions regarding the IWP until the task force submits its final report early in October to President Mary Sue Coleman and Whitmore.

"Meanwhile, I believe it's crucial that we maintain open minds about all possibilities for the continued operation of the IWP," he said. "We want to do the right thing."

In other developments, Skorton said that he has appointed Professor Sandra Barkan, assistant dean of the Graduate College, to directly administer the IWP during the 1999-2000 academic year. Her responsibilities will include planning and day-to-day oversight of the activities in which the international writers will participate during the fall semester. During this transitional period, former IWP program associate Rowena Torrevillas will be assigned to work with Barkan under Skorton's supervision. A graduate assistant, staff members in the Office of the Vice President for Research, and possibly others also will be involved in staffing the program during this period.

Finally, Skorton announced that he has named a faculty, staff and student group for ongoing advice about IWP operations over the course of this year. They are Jae-on Kim, professor of sociology and director of the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies, who will chair the group; Virginia Dominguez, professor of anthropology; Hualing Nieh Engle, previous director and co-founder of the IWP; James McPherson, professor of English and faculty member in the Writers' Workshop; Adalaide Morris, professor of English; Victoria Rovine, curator at the UI Museum of Art; Jay Semel, director of the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies; graduate student Steven Sharra who was a previous participant in the IWP; and Downing Thomas, professor and chair of the department of French and Italian.