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News in Brief

AROUND CAMPUS

DISCOVERIES

TRANSITIONS

 

AROUND CAMPUS

Enrollment breaks records, shows progress toward diversity goals
 
The University of Iowa's fall 2007 enrollment broke records in several categories, according to a new report by the UI Office of the Provost. In addition, the report shows that the composition of the first-year student class represents continued, substantial progress by the University toward meeting its strategic goals for student preparation and diversity.

Total undergraduate enrollment this fall was 20,907 students, breaking last year's record. The total enrollment of 30,409 students—undergraduate, graduate and professional—also set a record. Additionally, the University enrolled 4,287 new first-year students in 2007, only 2 fewer than last year's record-breaking class of 4,289 students.

Tom Rocklin, UI vice provost, said careful planning by the University ensured that new students had sufficient class offerings and residence hall space, even though some students applied for housing after the official deadline. He called this year's freshman class "arguably the University's most well-prepared class ever, as evidenced by its mean ACT composite score of 25.1, which is a modern record, and by the fact that the class includes a record number of honors students."

Another indicator of the incoming class's readiness for college was the increase in the percentage of students who graduated from high school in the top 10 percent of their class, and a decrease in the percentage who graduated in the middle of their class. Undergraduate minority student enrollment also increased. Students who identify themselves as members of minority groups now make up 9.6 percent of first-year students, up from 9 percent last year.



Provost releases report of mentoring task force
 
University of Iowa Interim Executive Vice President and Provost Lola Lopes has released the final report and recommendations of the Mentoring Task Force, which was charged by former Provost Michael Hogan in January 2006 to take a broad look at faculty mentoring at the University.

Recommendations in the report include:

  • The initiation of an electronic newsletter focused on the needs of new faculty;
  • Development of a centralized web site/clearinghouse that would provide information and Web links to a variety of University resources for both mentor and mentees;
  • Offering of training for Departmental Executive Officers (DEOs) and other mentors;
  • Training opportunities for DEOs and other faculty who serve as mentors;
  • Creation of a Mentoring Advisory Board in the Office of the Provost;
  • Establishment of a requirement that each college prepare a mentoring plan that meets its individual needs; and the development of methods for monitoring the outcomes of mentoring programs.

The ad hoc task force was asked to identify best practices in the mentoring of faculty from both the literature and current campus programs, and to make recommendations to further improve the mentoring of faculty members at the University.

The goal of the initiatives is to increase the rate at which qualified faculty members attain promotion, improve the retention rate of qualified faculty and improve and enhance the UI environment by making it more supportive and welcoming, Lopes says. Additionally, the task force noted that an increased exchange of ideas between senior and junior faculty would contribute to the campus' intellectual vibrancy. 

Toward these ends, the Office of the Provost implemented several strategies this fall, including the creation of a new full-time professional staff position to coordinate faculty career and leadership development. Other initiatives include an electronic newsletter for new faculty, a dedicated e-mail address for new faculty inquiries (newfaculty@uiowa.edu), professional development workshops for mentees and mentors featuring a nationally known expert, and Noon NetWork Luncheons to support peer mentoring.

The Mentoring Task Force was co-chaired by Usha Mallik, professor of physics and astronomy in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Susan Johnson, associate provost. For more information see http://provost.uiowa.edu/work/mentoring.htm.

 

Recognition sought for UI faculty and staff members for diversity efforts
 
The University of Iowa has begun a program to recognize faculty and staff who volunteer their time to support University-sponsored diversity events and activities.

The Office of the Special Assistant to the President for Equal Opportunity & Diversity is encouraging campus leaders to show their appreciation for faculty and staff who support diversity efforts in a survey at www.survey.uiowa.edu/wsb.dll/280/divleadership.htm.

Examples of events include diversity-related job or college fairs, school visits and workshops. Faculty and staff who tutor minority or underrepresented students, serve on boards and commissions focusing on diversity, or assist with on-campus student retention programs can also be recognized.

The information provided in the survey will be used to generate a letter to the person's supervisor or department head for inclusion in their personnel file. It will also provide a better understanding for many ways in which volunteer support advances diversity interests at the University, says Marcella David, special assistant to the president for equal opportunity and diversity and associate provost for diversity.

 

"Best Doctors in America" lists 269 UI physicians
 
The 2007 "Best Doctors in America" database has selected for recognition 269 physicians from University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and UI Children's Hospital, an increase of 81 UI doctors over last year's total of 188.

For a list of those recognized, see the University News Service release at
http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2007/november/110807best_doctors.html.

 

Benefits enrollment period nearly over—don’t be without health insurance!

The annual open enrollment period is almost over for all benefits-eligible employees. All staff should take this opportunity to carefully review their benefit choices to ensure those choices still best meet their needs.

Faculty, professional and scientific (P&S), and merit supervisory exempt employees are reminded that their health insurance options for 2008 have changed drastically. The UI Care, UI Select, and CHIP III health care plans have all been eliminated. Those who had these plans MUST choose a new plan if they wish to continue to purchase health insurance through The University of Iowa. A new health plan, UI Choice, is being offered.

Open enrollment for faculty, P&S, and merit supervisory exempt employees runs through Friday, Nov. 23.

Merit employees have an open enrollment for dental insurance; otherwise, they will see very few changes this year. The open enrollment period for merit staff runs through Monday, Nov. 26. Merit staff who do not want to make any changes for 2008 do not need to take any action.

All staff may enroll, change their contribution amount, or withdraw from the flexible spending accounts during open enrollment. To enroll, visit the HR Self Service web site: https://hris.uiowa.edu.

Detailed open enrollment information is posted on the Benefits Office web site: www.uiowa.edu/hr/benefits.

 

W-2 forms will be available on HR Self Service web site

Once again, the University of Iowa W-2 and/or 1042-S (for nonresident aliens) forms will be available on the HR Self Service web site (http://hris.uiowa.edu/selfservice).

The IRS allows for electronic delivery of W-2/1042-S forms if permission is given. To do this, select “Stop Paper Mailings” under the general section on the Personal tab on the HR Self Service site.  

The 2007 W-2/1042-S forms will be available mid- to late-January 2008, and by electing electronic delivery you will have access to your form approximately one week before the forms are mailed. For more information, refer to the Payroll web site, www.uiowa.edu/hr/payroll.

 

See what Learning and Development courses are right for you

UI Learning and Development, a unit of Organizational Effectiveness, provides professional development services to faculty and staff. There are many learning opportunities that will support your professional development and growth. Look for classroom instruction on leadership issues for managers, frontline supervisors, human resource professionals, and office professionals.

Check out the following links:

  • To see the latest online newsletter, with listings of current courses and seminars, visit www.uiowa.edu/learn/current.pdf.
  • For registration information, log in at the UI Human Resources Self Service site at https://hris.uiowa.edu/portal/index.php and click the “My Training” link to register for any available session. This tool will let you see the status and location of a class, get e-mail confirmations, withdraw from a class, check your course registration history, and even do online evaluations. Courses with a fee (Special Events, 7 Habits, Reframing Your Work) will still use the printable registration form.
  • To visit Learning and Development's home page, go to www.uiowa.edu/~fusstfdv.

 

DISCOVERIES

UI finding may eventually help tailor treatment for depression
 
When a treatment works for one person's depression, it does not always work for another person's. Findings from The University of Iowa may one day help doctors have a better idea of who will benefit from specific antidepressants, increasing the likelihood of successful treatment.

The study focused on a gene associated with the availability of serotonin, a chemical that at low levels can affect mood and sleep. The researchers found that among people with a variation in this gene, women were more likely than men to have altered processes related to serotonin.

The results, which were based on genetic analysis and depression assessments for 192 individuals, appeared online Nov. 7 in the American Journal of Medical Genetics.

While the finding is exciting, the researchers caution that they have not found a "depression gene," as genes alone cannot cause behaviors.

"Genes, in conjunction with a person's exposure to different life experiences and environments, play a role in depression, even though all the specific mechanisms by which this happens are not well understood," said the study's lead author, Robert Philibert, associate professor of psychiatry in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine. "This study gave us some interesting information about one specific mechanism."

For more information, see the University News Service release at http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2007/november/110707depression_treatment.html.

 

UI study finds "runner's high" may also strengthen hearts
 
Endorphins and other morphine-like substances known as opioids, which are released during exercise, don't just make you feel good—they may also protect you from heart attacks, according to University of Iowa researchers.

It has long been known that the so-called "runner's high" is caused by natural opioids that are released during exercise. However, a UI study, which is published in the online edition of the American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology, suggests that these opioids may also be responsible for some of exercise's cardiovascular benefits.

Working with rats, UI researchers showed that blocking the receptors that bind morphine, endorphins, and other opioids eliminates the cardiovascular benefits of exercise. Moreover, the UI team showed that exercise was associated with increased expression of several genes involved in opioid pathways that appear to be critical in protecting the heart.

"This is the first evidence linking the natural opioids produced during exercise to the cardio-protective effects of exercise," said Eric Dickson, UI associate professor and head of emergency medicine in the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and the study's lead investigator. "We have known for a long time that exercise is great for the heart. This study helps us better understand why."

For more information, see the University News Services release at http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2007/november/110807runners_high.html.

 

UI team discovers first moisture-sensing genes
 
Researchers in the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine have discovered the first two genes involved in moisture sensing (hygrosensation). The discovery also reveals a "two-sensor" hygrosensing system in fruit flies that may allow the flies to detect subtle changes in humidity—an ability that is critical for the flies' survival. The results appear in the Nov. 8 issue of Nature.

Subtle variations in humidity influence reproductive behavior and geographic distribution in many animals, including insects, reptiles, and birds. Because of their small size, insects, in particular, require a finely tuned ability to detect moisture levels in their environment in order to survive. However, the mechanisms and molecules involved in moisture sensing have remained a mystery.

"Moisture sensing is a sensory modality, which up to this point no one has understood. This is the first study to identify genes that are involved," said Lei Liu, UI postdoctoral fellow in internal medicine and lead author of the study.

For more information, see the University News Services release at http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2007/november/110807moisture_genes.html.

 

TRANSITIONS

Deaths

  • Walter Jeffries, 73, retired equipment operator, Sept. 17 in Washington, Iowa.
  • Thelma Chambers, 90, retired cook, Sept. 29 in Iowa City. (obit)
  • Kathryn Keeley, 82, retired secretary III, Oct. 2 in Iowa City. (obit)
  • Frances Willnow, 84, retired secretary I, Oct. 3 in Coralville.
  • Brian McCabe, 81, professor emeritus, Oct. 7 in Iowa City. (obit)
  • Frank Fisher, 95, retired residence hall supervisor, Oct. 7 in Iowa City. (obit)
  • Terry McCall, 59, merit exempt, Oct. 7 in Iowa City. (obit)
  • Edwin Slach, 80, retired lab technician IV, Oct. 8 in Iowa City.
  • Richard Peterson, 86, professor emeritus, Oct. 8 in Iowa City. (obit)
  • Ronald Keech, 59, professor of pediatric ophthalmology, Oct. 16 in Iowa City. (obit)
  • Howard Nicholson, 54, research assistant III, Oct. 17 in Iowa City. (obit)
  • Anne Cooke, 83, retired nursing unit clerk, Oct. 18 in Iowa City.

 

 

 

Office of University Relations. Copyright The University of Iowa 2006. All rights reserved.