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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 26, 2007

Two UI staff members win first undergraduate advocacy awards

Two University of Iowa staff members have won the first Lola Lopes Award for Undergraduate Student Advocacy, in recognition of their support of undergraduate students. The recipients are Patricia J. Folsom, assistant provost and director of the Academic Advising Center, and Robert F. Kirby, associate director of the University Honors Program.

The award, which is administered by the Office of the Provost, was created in 2006 as a way for the university to recognize administrators, staff, or faculty outside of their teaching role who serve as strong and effective advocates for undergraduate students and the undergraduate experience. Recipients receive a $1,000 honorarium and a certificate, and their names will be added to a plaque that will be displayed in the Admissions Visitors Center.

The recipients were selected by a committee of staff, faculty and students.

Folsom is assistant provost and director of the Academic Advising Center. Described by one colleague as a visionary planner, Folsom led the Academic Advising teams that helped to create a series of now-proven programs to promote student success. The IowaLink program, for example, supports students who are recruited to campus because of their unique talents or perspectives, but do not meet standard admission requirements. Over the past 12 years, students who participated in IowaLink -- including many first-generation or underrepresented minority students -- have returned for a second year at Iowa at a higher rate than their peers who did meet standard admission requirements.

Folsom also led the team that created the College Success Seminar, a course that teaches time management, study skills, and other tools for academic success to students who are placed on academic probation in their first semester. Later, she and her team collaborated with Orientation Services to create The College Transition, a course to help all first-year students learn the skills they need for continuing academic success. The College Transition course now serves more than 1,000 students, and involves faculty and staff from across campus.

This spring, Folsom was elected chair of the Advisor Training and Development Commission, a leadership position within the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA). In that capacity, she has helped to improve the training and development of advisors across the country.

In a letter of support for Folsom, one colleague says, "The fruits of Pat's advocacy are everywhere: she has made a difference at Iowa."

Kirby is associate director of the University Honors Program and director of the Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates as well as an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Psychology.

As an advisor and facilitator, Kirby helped a group of undergraduate students create the nonprofit group the James Gang in 2002. He then helped those students realize their vision for a volunteerism and civic engagement program called The 10,000 Hours Show, which would give students free admission to a major concert in exchange for at least ten hours of community service. The 10,000 Hours Show remains very successful at Iowa, and has been adopted on other university campuses.

Kirby's mentorship has helped many other students compete more effectively for major awards, such as the Rhodes Scholarship or Fulbright grants; work more productively within student government; create and implement innovative programming as members of the Honors Student Staff; and pursue original research projects alongside faculty.

A strong proponent of "learning by doing," Kirby was instrumental in the creation of the Experiential Learning Council, a group of students, staff, and faculty who promote the role of experiential learning opportunities such as research, internships, or civic engagement in the undergraduate experience.

In a letter of support for his nomination, two former students sum up Kirby's contributions: "he has made an incredible difference in our lives, and we know the same is true for . . . [our] peers before and after."

The award is named in honor of Lola L. Lopes, former associate provost for undergraduate education and professor emerita of management and organizations in the Tippie College of Business. Earlier this month, following the departure of former executive vice president and provost Michael J. Hogan, President Sally Mason appointed Lopes interim executive vice president and provost.

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

MEDIA CONTACT: Thomas R. Rocklin, Provost's Office, 319-335-3565,; Stephen Pradarelli, University News Services, 319-384-0007,