Mason defends UI against Gartner's criticism


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University of Iowa President Sally Mason defended the university and its officials Wednesday following criticism from a former president of the state Board of Regents.

In an interview with The Daily Iowan, Mason addressed the issue of UI professors spending more time conducting research then in the classroom, calling the allegation untrue. The statement by former Regent Michael Gartner — in an opinion piece for the Des Moines Register — said the teaching load by UI professors, which he believes is six hours or fewer in classroom teaching per week, must be increased.

"The three Iowa universities employ around 7,500 faculty members, some 5,300 of whom are full-time," Gartner wrote. "Yet, at Iowa the full-time faculty spends just a third of their time in teaching-related activities,"

Mason responded to this claim saying while the perception may be that professors aren't engaged in classroom activity, she has personal experience to say this is not the case.

"It's an inaccurate picture of the kind of work our faculty at a research university are doing," she said. "So many of them are doing one on one mentoring with students on research projects. They are doing service-learning projects; many of them are even taking the time to go abroad when they are with students constantly."

Mason also stated while it is hard to measure all of the efforts done by faculty, officials need to do a better job of describing how engaged UI faculty members are with students, which isn't always in the formality of a classroom.

Gartner, who stated "the goal is simple: Make the universities as good as they think they are," also addressed faculty members having too much authority, search committees, and politicization of regents— which Mason also responded to.

"We hope people all across either side of the aisle understand and appreciate the value of higher education and are supportive of it," she said. "My job and the job of my team here is to work as hard as we can so people understand that."

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