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UI launches new website to improve outreach efforts

BY LAUREN COFFEY | JANUARY 29, 2013 5:00 AM

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University of Iowa officials launched a new website earlier this month to help increase the university’s transparency and outreach efforts.

The new website, run by the Hawkeye Caucus, offers a multitude of interactive features, including a map of the 99 counties in Iowa. Visitors to the site can click on a county, and the map will show the number of UI-educated teachers, dentists, and doctors in the county.

UI officials admit there was room to improve the university’s outreach programs, and they hope the website will continue to do that.

“We wanted to go back and take a look at how we’re engaging Iowans and giving information so they could see what impact the university is having,” said Peter Matthes, the director of federal relations in the UI Office of Government Relations.

Following the state Board of Regents’ decision not to renew Mason’s contract in August 2012, she compiled a list of goals to be completed by June 30. The first goal on that list concerned communication, which was assigned a priority of “30 percent,” The Daily Iowan has previously reported.

At least one local legislator sees the website as a way for Mason and UI officials to improve upon that goal.

“I hope the outreach [efforts] do reach out to legislators and send alerts,” said Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City. “Sally Mason has made efforts to meet with legislators on their home turf, like coffee shops or even in their own homes. Making people aware of the website is always a good thing.”

UI Student Government leaders helped create the website, and they list improving outreach programs as one of their main goals for this year.

“[The new website] helps show the impact at every corner of the state,” UISG President Nic Pottebaum said. “It’s important to keep the continuation of showing how much impact the University of Iowa has across the state.”

UI officials are also introducing new outreach initiatives throughout the state, one of which is Hometown Hawkeyes, where current UI students return to their hometown to speak about their experience at the university. This last month, the program had the highest number of student turnout this last month, with more than 660 students participating.

UI spokesman Tom Moore said many people may not understand the efect the university has across the state, and he noted the website will help increase people’s awareness.

“I grew up in northeastern Iowa, and there is a lack of awareness, because Iowa City seems so far away,” he said. “[The UI’s] services have an effect not only close to home but really across the state.”


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