More UI outreach recommended


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The UI should strengthen its sustainability efforts and reach out more to community colleges, the UI Task Force on Public Outreach and Civic Engagement said on Monday.

The task force is focused on fortifying UI partnerships with more than a dozen of the state’s community colleges and building a stronger culture of sustainability and engagement throughout Iowa.

The UI now offers outreach programs, which include the option to earn a UI bachelor’s degree through distance learning and online instruction, at four community colleges. The task force suggested increasing the number to 17 by 2011.

The change, however, could add to the workload or travel expenses of UI professors who have to commute to other schools.

Steve Carpenter, the public-information director at Kirkwood Community College, said community colleges’ relationships with the UI allow students who learn at a different pace to “broaden their options.”

State Board of Regents’ President David Miles said earlier this month that he approved of state universities partnering with two-year institutions.

“I am pleased to hear of these articulation efforts between Iowa’s public universities and our community colleges,” he in a statement on Feb. 4. “It will establish early connections with students looking to transfer to a major university.”

In addition, the task force encouraged UI officials to work alongside the local community as well as fellow universities to develop more sustainable programs throughout the state. The UI is unique in offering an undergraduate degree for sustainability.

“The most important component of sustainability is community and recognizing one’s impact in that community,” said Liz Christiansen, the director of the Office of Sustainability and a member of the task force. “We want our program to be a meaningful, valuable resource to all Iowans.”

The theme of an enhanced community was prevalent throughout the 31-page report.

Other suggestions the task force made to UI officials include:

• Promoting the arts and cultural community by determining permanent sites for Hancher Auditorium and the UI Museum of Art.

• Expanding technology and media use, including the development of a website advertising the university’s national and international outreach programs.

• Quickening the development of Iowa’s working-age population. Task force members want to increase the 14.7 percent of Iowa adults who possess a bachelor’s degree.

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