What will this transition between presidents mean to Iowas undergraduates?
They wont really notice it. My intention is that between our outgoing, outstanding president and our incoming, outstanding president, we dont miss a beat. Were not just marking timewere moving forward.
President Coleman held Fireside Chats to find out what was on the minds of students. How do you plan to stay in touch with their needs and concerns?
Im likely to go out and talk to them on the street or wherever I run into them. Just yesterday, for example, I twice encountered people who looked like they needed directionsthey were parents of incoming students, and so I walked them to the appropriate place myself. I want to be spontaneous in meeting students and families. Ive always been accessible and the office is accessible and Im often out and about. The Daily Iowan has not hesitated to call me, and Ive urged them to continue to do so.
What differences do you see between students now and when you served as president previously?
Well, its interesting. Theyre very much the same, except that Im very happy that we have a more diversified student bodywomen are now in all parts of the University as students. The law school, for example, is 50 percent women and 50 percent men. We have greater ethnic diversity, so that greatly enriches the experience at Iowa. As far as student activism, I think our students are very interested in community service and public service, and thats one of my big pushes. At the Iowa Nonprofit Resource Center [which Boyd helped found at the University in 2000], we work closely with Student Services and the Career Center to have more systematic and effective opportunities for students to volunteer with local organizations and also to develop projects and internships with nonprofit organizations. Many students come here having had community service experiences in high school, so they expect it, and so were going to strengthen our efforts in that regard.
Your previous tenure included some very tumultuous timeshow has student activism changed?
One of the things that happened in those times was the creation of a number of organizations like the Free Medical Clinic, the Free Lunch program, and the Crisis Center, which have become well-established community institutions in Iowa City. We see in current students a great deal of interest in those programs, so I think there is that same kind of altruism and commitment and interest in others, which we want to foster. We want this generation to have the opportunity to understand the importance of these nonprofit organizations and to understand their role in them.
What do you want to let parents know about the University?
Iowa is a great place for an undergraduate. Its the smallest of the Big 10 universities, with all of the advantages of larger universities. When students come to this campus, its our commitment to work with students as individuals, to meet their needs and counsel them, particularly with respect to academics, but also with regard to other issues they may have in mind. Faculty members are available and very interested in students, and we have teaching assistants who are getting advanced degrees and want to be teachers, so they have the same enthusiasm for teaching that the faculty does. I think its a wonderful place to be an undergraduate. In one sense, its a large place, but it has a very small-place atmosphere.
During your previous presidency, tuition had to be raised tremendouslywhat do you have to say about the current tuition increases?
The current state budget cuts are very difficult to deal with, but every effort is being made to protect undergraduate education. Im very worried about tuition increasesin the last several years, weve had to raise tuition so that it becomes a greater part of the funding of undergraduate education, and nationally theres a great concern about rising tuitions in public universitiesso were very mindful of it. At the same time, its imperative that we provide the very best possible education, and that costs money.
What do you hope parents will tell their students about life at the University?
I hope parents will encourage their students to take advantage of all The University of Iowa has to offer. There are wonderful opportunities here but students have to make the first move, and the undergraduate years are a good time to learn about making that first move.
In my own family, our daughter attended the University of Minnesota, and while there she spotted a flyer about internships at the state capitol. Shes no shrinking violet, so she applied, and she got it. In fact, she was the only woman on the campus who applied. She was a persistent studentthats what it takes. In our family, its all perspiration.
Clearly, I think we need to encourage our children to be more enterprising and recognize that there is a point in their life where we have to recognize that the nurturing shifts to urging them to act on their own and act responsibly on their own.