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University of Iowa News Release


June 2, 2008

Mason announces President's 2008 Awards for outreach, public engagement

A University of Iowa faculty member, staff member, student, and organization are this year's recipients of the UI President's Award for State Outreach and Public Engagement, UI President Sally Mason announced today.

The annual award honors those who demonstrate exemplary outreach to the State of Iowa and the public in general. The $3,000 awards are given in four categories: faculty, staff, student and group/organization.

The 2008 recipients are Jerry Schnoor, Allen S. Henry Chair in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering; Roger Tracy, assistant dean and director of the Office of Statewide Clinical Education Programs in the Carver College of Medicine; Vernita Morgan, a Ph.D. student in Educational Measurement and Statistics in the College of Education; and Beta Alpha Psi-Alpha Pi Chapter, the honorary organization for accounting majors in the Tippie College of Business.

"Public outreach and engagement are central to the mission of the University of Iowa," Mason said.  "These awardees provide generous and invaluable service to the people of Iowa and beyond, and it is inspiring how they apply their talents for the public good.  Remarkable university community members like these exemplify the UI's leadership in learning, discovery, and engagement.  I congratulate and thank them for their service and initiative."

Schnoor (the faculty recipient) was nominated for his success in moving scientific understanding out of the academic world into the public sphere.  Schnoor is a renowned scholar in environmental modeling, the use of plants in remediation of contaminated soils, and global climate change.  He is the editor of the journal Environmental Science & Technology, the top journal in the field.  Schnoor has extensively shared his expertise in public discussions and writing in public forums, and he has committed his time to leadership on global climate change on the UI campus and on state committees and initiatives.  He has written numerous editorials and spoken to Iowans in many different forums, and he has testified before the House Environment Committee.  Schnoor was named to the Midwest Governors' Association Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Accord Advisory Group, and Governor Culver has appointed him to chair the Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council, which is charged with advising the state about how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent or more by 2050.

Tracy (the staff recipient) was nominated for his effective work in building relationships among the UI, Iowa communities, and health care providers.  The Office of Statewide Clinical Education Programs, (OSCEP) developed by Tracy, has principal responsibility for developing and coordinating collegiate outreach programs for medical education and community service.  OSCEP coordinates the Carver College of Medicine's community-based medical education - involving medical students, residents and physician assistant students - through six regional medical education centers affiliated with the college.  OSCEP also oversees the UI-Affiliated Family Practice Training Network and the college's Visiting Professor Program.  In combination, these community-based medical education programs constitute the Statewide Medical Education System.  The community-based education efforts are complemented by community service programs, supporting private medical practitioners and community hospitals. In 2007, OSCEP released the Report of the Task Force on the Iowa Physician Workforce, which describes the current supply of physicians in Iowa, analyzes specialty trend data, and provides advice to Iowa policy makers on increasing the supply and affecting the distribution and retention of health care providers in the state.  Tracy co-chaired this task force, and the report is based on four decades of data collection, initiated by Tracy, that includes all active Iowa physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, physical therapists, pharmacists, and dentists.  No other state or region in the nation has access to information of similar quality, complexity, and currency.

Morgan (the student recipient) was nominated for her leadership and initiative in organizing the 2007 Cedar Rapids Community-Wide Health and Wellness Fair, which had the theme "It's All About You."  Morgan has been involved in health promotion in Iowa for two years.  More than 40 booths and 13 different free screenings were available at the fair.  Screenings included blood pressure, blood cholesterol, body mass index, bone density, blood glucose, glaucoma, hearing, HIV/AIDS, and others.  Hundreds of people were provided free access to screenings that were estimated to cost between $618 and $823.  Aerobics classes, low cholesterol cooking demonstrations, CPR demonstrations, and other workshops were also presented.  UI student organizations from the Colleges of Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy performed the screenings, and Educational Measurement and Statistics students served as evaluators.  A blood drive was also held, collecting 19 units, many from first-time donors.  UI employees and students donated clothes and toys for a "give-away closet" at the fair.  The organizational committee for the fair, headed by Morgan, received a 2007 Iowa Governor's Group Volunteer Award, and Morgan has been invited to serve on the Cultural Health Initiatives Collaborative Council, which seeks to increase awareness about minority heart health within the state of Iowa.

Beta Alpha Psi (the group/organization recipient) was nominated for its work with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.  This program provides free income tax assistance to low-income workers in Johnson County.  Each student must complete rigorous training before working with the public, receiving Internal Revenue Service certification in the process.  Once certified, the students spend weekend and evening hours working with clients and preparing tax returns.  This year, Beta Alpha Psi members offered VITA services at the Iowa City Public Library, the Pheasant Ridge Neighborhood Center, Penn Elementary School, Northwest Junior High School, Lucas Elementary School, and Grant Wood Elementary School.  Over the past two years, Beta Alpha Psi has partnered with Johnson County Social Services and, as a result, each year doubled the number of clients served over the previous year.  In 2007, more than 600 returns were filed.  Beta Alpha Psi is dedicated to leadership in community service.  In 2007, it was one of the leading student organizations working toward the Tippie Build, the Habitat for Humanity project that College of Business students undertook in honor of Henry B. Tippie and his 80th birthday.  Beta Alpha Psi ran a number of fundraisers, served as the accountants for all the funds raised, and actively participated in the building of the house.  Joyce Berg, associate professor of accounting, is the group's faculty advisor.

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

MEDIA CONTACT: Thomas K. Dean, special assistant to the president, 319-335-1995,