Executive Council organizes forum to address task force concerns

BY MORGAN OLSEN | MARCH 03, 2010 7:30 AM

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After two weeks of public feedback from University of Iowa officials and faculty, the UI Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students met Tuesday night to prepare to address UI officials concerning strategic initiative task force reports.

Tonight, students will have the opportunity to address UI Provost Wallace Loh and Graduate College Dean John Keller in an open forum with comments and concerns on the six task force reports.

“Students can see things from a different perspective and can offer officials new advice,” said Executive Council President Eric Kaiser. “It just offers a fresher perspective.”

Each of the six task forces was charged with finding ways to cut university expenses while maintaining academic excellence. The graduate-program report has come under particular scrutiny after 14 programs received low scores; they will undergo additional review for possible consolidation or closing.

“We expect most of the discussion will revolve around the task-force report,” Graduate Student Senate President Kristina Rogers said. “It’s easy to understand how people would get upset and concerned about the possibility of their program changing.”

Kaiser, a graduate student in molecular physiology, said his program is being reorganized with the biosciences program. While the program didn’t receive the lowest rating, it has also faced pressure.

Though no decisions will be made until September, the reports have caused turmoil for certain departments.

The Executive Council has no particular stance on the reports, said council Vice President Mosah Fernandez-Goodman.

“As part of student government, we want to provide students with an event to voice their opinions,” he said.

Kaiser and Rogers said questions will likely be specific and target key areas of the reports. One area of concern that has been raised among students is the opportunity to graduate if a program is changed or eliminated.

“We’ve cleared this up with both Provost Loh and Dean Keller — students will be able to graduate from their programs regardless of outcomes,” Kaiser said.

He remained positive about the possible outcomes of the reports.

“As students, we have to see [the task-force report] as a good thing,” he said. “The reports are focused on student outcome, and ultimately, the university is looking out for our own good.”

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