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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 31, 2005

UI Awards More Than $100,000 In Grants For Year Of Public Engagement

The University of Iowa has awarded more than $100,000 in grants to UI faculty, staff and students who proposed projects to connect the university with the state of Iowa as part of the Year of Public Engagement.

After reviewing 80 applications, a committee of faculty, staff, students and community members recommended 15 for approval by UI President David Skorton. The projects selected for funding were chosen primarily on the basis of their innovative approaches to engaging with the public and the potential for sustainability beyond the one-year celebration.

Skorton has declared the 2005-2006 academic year the Year of Public Engagement, during which the university community is intensifying its efforts and sharpening its focus on engagement with the public and public issues at the local, state, national and international levels.

"I knew when we proposed this Year of Public Engagement that the university community would embrace it with the best it has to offer in time, talent and innovation," Skorton said. "These funded projects represent only a fraction of the energy and enthusiasm across campus as we seek new avenues for outreach and engagement beyond the university walls."

Funded projects include:

"The Animals Among Us." Led by Jane Desmond, associate dean of international programs and associate professor of American studies, and Teresa Mangum, associate professor of English and international studies, both in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, this project is an outgrowth of the Fall 2005 Obermann Research Semester, "Articulating the Animal." Iowans will be invited to explore the world of animals around them through photography and writing. Two competitions -- one for adults and the other for K-12 students -- will accept submissions of animal photos accompanied by a written essay reflecting on the significance of the image and the animal. An exhibition of the 25 winners in each category will travel around the state in 2006 and 2007. The exhibition will be enhanced by a semester-long film and post-screening discussion series featuring animals in international films, hosted by the UI Institute for Cinema and Culture, and focusing on many quality of life issues in our state that humans and animals share

"English as a Second Language for Migrant Workers." The Department of Linguistics, ESL Programs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will offer free English as a Second Language instruction to migrant workers in selected Iowa communities during summer 2006, led by Catherine O. Ringen and Maureen H. Burke. Most of the migrant workers who come to work on Iowa's large farms each summer are second-language English speakers and many of them are new immigrants who have had little exposure to English. English-language instruction will assist them in meeting their daily needs including grocery shopping, banking and communicating with personnel at their children's schools. It also will provide a unique teaching opportunity for UI graduate students, who will conduct the classes for the first time for a population of students with different needs and goals than those pursuing academic degrees. Faculty and graduate students will work with the UI Center for Human Rights and PROTEUS, Inc. a nonprofit serving migrant workers, to set up a program that meets the workers' needs.

"Henry B. Tippie Society for Socially Engaged Professionals." Led by John Murry, associate professor of marketing in the Henry B. Tippie College of Business, and a team of M.B.A. students, this project seeks to improve the management of Iowa nonprofit organizations working on human welfare problems and facilitate the development of a more interactive professional community in which ideas and expertise are shared. By providing educational programs and consultative services to Iowa nonprofits, organizers hope to improve the effectiveness of those organizations while simultaneously educating M.B.A. students as to the importance and applicability of their business skills within social welfare settings and engender a commitment among those students to volunteerism or full-time work in social welfare organizations. The Society will provide a complementary service to the work being accomplished through the Larned A. Waterman Iowa Nonprofit Resource Center.

"The Iowa Children's Diaries Project." Led by the staff of the Old Capitol Museum on the Pentacrest and headed by Pamela Trimpe and Shalla Wilson, this project will connect Iowa 4th through 6th graders with state history by inviting them to record their thoughts on life in Iowa today, just as many young settlers did 150 years ago in diary entries now housed in Special Collections at the UI Libraries Iowa Women's Archives. When the museum reopens in May 2006 its ground floor Discovery Center will feature an exhibition of today's students' diary entries along with those from children living in 19th century Iowa.

"Iowa Writes." Coordinated by Professor David Hamilton, Ph.D. student Lynne Nugent and International Writing Program coordinator Hugh Ferrer, all staff of The Iowa Review housed in the Department of English, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, this project will showcase on the UI website a poem, short story or short nonfiction piece each day throughout 2006 featuring Iowa writers-those who grew up in the state and/or live in Iowa now. This project is modeled after the Daily Palette, which featured works by Iowa artists daily throughout the 2004-05 Year of the Arts and Humanities. The writing project will be open to all Iowans, encouraging creative writing across the state and highlighting Iowa's reputation as a place that "grows" writers.

"Mother's Milk Bank of Iowa: Engagement Across Iowa." The Mother's Milk Bank of Iowa, Division of Pediatric Nutrition, Carver College of Medicine and Children's Hospital of Iowa, provides pasteurized human milk to vulnerable infants whose mothers are not able to supply it. Currently milk is supplied to infants under the care of neonatologists in the children's hospital, but the program seeks to expand its services statewide. Through this grant, headed by Jean M. Drulis and Dr. Ekhard E. Ziegler, the Milk Bank will begin supplying donor milk to babies who are transferred from Children's Hospital of Iowa to other Iowa hospitals closer to their homes as well as work to increase the number of women supplying donor breast milk for pasteurization and distribution.

"Mujeres Latinas: Preserving the History of Iowa Latinas and their Communities."  Led by Curator Kären Mason, The Iowa Women's Archives of University Libraries will seek to uncover and document the history of Latina women in the Davenport barrio known as Cook's Point and other communities in the state. The project will involve conducting oral histories and gathering historical documents to preserve the history of this underserved and, in some cases, invisible population. This project involves outreach to Latino communities around the state and building partnerships between the UI and these communities. It also will increase visibility of Latinas and their contributions to Iowa history and life and foster a more inclusive understanding of Iowa's history and people.

"Planning for Better Regions: A Biennial Summit for Policy Makers, Planners and the Public." Organized by the UI Graduate Program in Urban and Regional Planning and led by program chair James Throgmorton, this effort will involve summits every two years in various Iowa cities and/or regions focusing on local planning issues such as affordable housing, economic development, urban revitalization and suburban growth. Participants will include elected officials, state and local decision-makers, citizen groups and non-profits, interested citizens, academics, local educators and students. The first Iowa Regional Summit will be held in Cedar Rapids in Fall 2006.

"Sonia Kovalevsky High School Mathematics Day." Led by Bor Luh Lin, professor, and Omayra Ortega, graduate student, both in the UI mathematics department, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, this project seeks to engage young women in the study of mathematics and potentially attract them to study at the UI. Approximately 200 high school women from the school districts contiguous to Johnson County will be invited to a day-long program featuring workshops and opportunities for social interaction among peers who share a passion for math. The goal is to preserve that passion leading to more women choosing to study science and math at the UI or other universities and to pursue careers in these areas. Sonia Kovalevsky was a renowned mathematician and also a writer and advocate for women's rights in the 19th century.

"Strengthening Iowa's Charitable Community Organizations." The UI's Larned A. Waterman Iowa Nonprofit Resource Center will hold a series of regional conferences with Iowa charitable community organizations to improve their operational capacity through a one-day session on "Iowa Principles and Practices for Charitable Nonprofit Excellence," headed by Willard L. Boyd, Jude West, Richard Koontz, and Lon Moeller. The principles and practices are based on the syllabus of the university-wide course in Nonprofit Organizational Effectiveness and were formulated in conjunction with the Governor's Task Force on "The Role of Charitable Nonprofit Organizations in Iowa," reflecting public concern for improving the ability of charitable nonprofit organizations to serve their communities. These organizations involve thousands of Iowans as volunteers, but are small with virtually no funds for training and education. Through this project, the UI will take its Nonprofit Organizational Effectiveness course into five Iowa communities in Spring 2006, allowing statewide access to the resources and expertise of the Nonprofit Resource Center.

"Strengthening Our Global Community." The UI International Programs Office of Students and Scholars will collaborate with UI Learning and Development to assess the need for and potentially offer cross-cultural programs and workshops for local nonprofit organizations, businesses and educational institutions, including community colleges. This initiative, led by Helen Jameson, builds on similar workshops that UI International Programs offers to its UI constituents, including international students and scholars and their families as well as UI departments and offices.

"The UI Citizens-Researcher Collaboration." Led by UI Vice President for Research Meredith Hay and Stewart Ehly, professor of psychological and quantitative foundations in the College of Education, this project will organize a series of highly coordinated meetings and events designed to improve and highlight the way concerned citizens, service providers, policy-makers and UI researchers collaborate on matters of Iowa public interest. The pilot project, "Mental Health Services to Iowa Children," will begin with a town meeting in Des Moines in winter 2006 at which selected concerned parents will be invited to discuss children's mental health issues with UI researchers from a broad range of disciplines. UI researchers will join with education and mental health professionals to identify research needs and develop specific policies to target the areas identified by the town meeting participants. The collaboration will give Iowa citizens opportunities to influence research and action on issues of concern to them and to the state.

"United Way Board Bank for UI Students: Building Community Connections." The UI Student Government, led by president Mark Kresowik, plans a partnership between itself and the United Way of Johnson County with the goal of providing training and placement for UI students interested in serving on area nonprofit boards. Training will involve an overview of the role of boards of directors in nonprofit organizations and information on board member skills such as reading financial statements, fundraising and running effective meetings. Training will be provided at no cost for up to 50 participants, after which the United Way will work to match them with local agencies and nonprofit organizations. In this way, UISG hopes to create a direct connection between UI students and area nonprofit organizations and help build UI-community connections.

"University of Iowa Engagement Corps." The UI Faculty Senate will join with the UI Speakers Bureau to expand the university's commitment to community outreach. Through the program, headed by Faculty Senate President Richard LeBlond, faculty representatives from each of the academic colleges will travel together through Des Moines to Northwest Iowa, learning more about the state's geography, economy, culture, government, history, educational systems and health and social issues. This trip will be scheduled annually. Faculty will observe firsthand existing connections between the UI and the state and will also discover new avenues for engagement as they meet community leaders across the state and consider how their research may be targeted to address the challenges facing Iowans.

"University of Iowa Youth Empowerment Academy (YEA!)" Led by Adrienne Carey Hurley, assistant professor of Asian languages and literature in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, this project will draw on the resources and expertise of faculty and staff from a number of UI departments to develop and provide educational workshops on "media literacy" and "cultural studies" to Iowa youth who are members of racial and ethnic groups over-represented in the juvenile justice system and under-represented at the university. The goal of the program will be to reduce incarceration rates of minority youth in Iowa by creating academic opportunities for at-risk youth, including a series of monthly workshops for 8th and 9th graders in spring 2006 and a plenary camp in summer 2006.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011, mary-kenyon@uiowa.edu; Program: Thomas K. Dean, Year of Public Engagement co-chair, 319-335-1995, thomas-k-dean@uiowa.edu