August Highlights

Convocation on the PentacrestThe University of Iowa revived an old tradition with a convocation celebration on the Pentacrest during Welcome Week. The convocation conveyed to students the importance of becoming a Hawkeye by describing the IOWA Challenge, a mission statement for UI students that stresses important principles for succeeding in the classroom and beyond.

The University of Iowa ranked 29th best public national university in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report. The ranking placed The University of Iowa in a tie with Indiana University–Bloomington, Michigan State University, University of California–Santa Cruz, and Virginia Tech University.

UI President Sally Mason recognized 17 LEED accredited professionals, or more than triple the number on campus last year, at a ceremony on the UI campus. LEED, shorthand for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System, is an independent certification program that provides voluntary guidelines for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings.

Contributors to the University of Iowa Foundation and The University of Iowa made more than $203 million in gifts and gift commitments for the University during the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2009, an 8.2 percent increase in giving over the previous fiscal year. Fiscal year 2009 was only the second time that combined UI and UI Foundation gift productivity passed the $200 million mark.

Hawkeye emblem on sleeve of Army uniformThe University of Iowa made G.I. Job’s 2010 list of Military Friendly Schools. The list honored the top 15 percent of colleges, universities, and trade schools doing the most to embrace America’s veterans as students.

 

The Environmental Sciences Program began offering a BA in addition to a BS in environmental sciences. The BA is more flexible than the BS, allowing students with career interests in service or education and the environment to earn a second major or a minor while still graduating in four years. The new BA was partly proposed in response to UI President Sally Mason’s call for more emphasis on sustainability.

Discovery of a deafness-causing gene defect in mice helped identify a protein that protects sensory cells in the ear, according to a study led by University of Iowa researchers.

NASA selected a group of researchers in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to be part of a team that will use an x-ray telescope aboard a satellite to explore the distortion of space by spinning black holes and the creation of intense magnetic fields around dead stars. Called the Gravity and Extreme Magnetism Small Explorer (GEMS) satellite, the project is coordinated by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Scott Burrill

Our People

SCOTT BURRILL
Law student returns from Alaska internship with a national public service award—and with an even stronger resolve to provide needed legal assistance to minorities and the poor.

Scott Burrill’s interest in criminal justice was sparked when he was an undergrad at the University of Wisconsin, majoring in European history. A part-time job as an investigator for the law school’s legal clinic took him off campus and into the community, to a client’s doorstep in one of Madison’s low-income neighborhoods.

“You go into their homes and see how the poorer population lives in the United States,” says Burrill, who at the time had taken a few elective courses in criminal justice, almost by accident. “There’s such a problem in the way our system treats the poor.”

That experience set him on a path that led to law school—and to The University of Iowa. He was drawn in part by Iowa’s in-house clinic, which operates like a law firm within the walls of the college, offering student interns opportunities to represent clients at all stages of the legal process.

His growing commitment to public service took Burrill in the summer of 2009 to the state public defender agency in Kenai, Alaska, where he completed an internship through Equal Justice Works, an organization that provides legal assistance to low-income and underserved communities in the United States.

For Burrill, the 5,000-mile drive was worth it, not only for the moose and caribou he shared the road with. In Kenai, Burrill was charged with advocating for indigent clients, those facing criminal charges as well as parents trying to get back their children after the state assumed custody. In the first trial he second-chaired, he received a not-guilty verdict for a client who, despite the inherent risks of facing trial, refused to plead to something he was innocent of—one of the most rewarding moments of Burrill’s life.

“Once you have a conviction—even an arrest—on your record, it’s that much harder to improve your life later,” he says. “It sets people down a path for the rest of their lives.”

Burrill’s zealous defense of his clients in Kenai won him the 2009 Exemplary Public Service Award from Equal Justice Works. He returned to Iowa with an even fiercer desire to seek justice in a system flawed by inequities for minorities and the poor.

“The main thing that I always want to do is solve problems,” says Burrill, who graduated from the College of Law in May 2010. “It just makes me want to work harder.”