New UI faculty council president Snetselaar pushes for engagement


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Linda Snetselaar said she will bring a new theme of engagement and continuation of collaboration among colleges in her new role as the president of the Faculty Council and Faculty Senate.

“Research that is translational and engages communities is not as well-established [on campus],” the UI epidemiology professor said.

Snetselaar hopes to change the way research is done to contribute to a healthier lifestyle in communities. The change will give the partnering communities more voice over the research, so that when the university leaves at the end of a study, the community can continue with the program.

“This is important to me, because it takes a traditional research model and translates it into a more real-world model,” Snetselaar said. “Folks in communities are key players in research and teaching that we do. Research outcomes become much more real world and sustainable when the original study design involves those who care most about achieving change, citizens in our communities.”

Snetselaar became the president after election results were released during last April’s UI Faculty Senate meeting.

Susan Schultz, a member of the UI Faculty Council, is excited about the new push for engagement, and she believes Snetselaar’s prior experience in research will benefit the university.

“Dr. Snetselaar has a very successful history of reaching out to the broader Iowa community in her research and teaching on preventive health practices,” Schultz said. “She will do a terrific job in helping the rest of us.”

The theme of engagement between communities and other departments will not just be applied in research but in teaching as well.

Recently, Snetselaar was a part of the Center for Teaching’s Creative Campus, which allowed her to integrate Hancher performances into her teaching of epidemiology.

“That was one of the most exciting time in my life for teaching,” she said. “What I’m trying to do this year is to bring some of those creative ideas to the forefront.”

Jean Florman, the director of the UI Center for Teaching, is thrilled with the initiative.

“When faculty members, departments, and colleges focus on community engagement, the center can both participate in that conversation and provide encouragement, support, and resources to develop service-learning courses,” Florman said.

Council member and economics Associate Professor John Solow sees great possibility in the push, yet he is concerned it may not work in all departments. He believes with a little guidance, most departments can find a way to engage with the community in a mutually beneficial way.

“There are some places where this is very useful and has been going on for a while and places where it’s harder to imagine,” he said.

Snetselaar is not the only one pushing for engagement at the UI.

“Our president, provost, associate provost for faculty, and chief diversity officer and associate vice president are key in encouraging engagement,” Snetselaar said. “Their work and enthusiasm make this effort of engaging communities possible.”

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