The year that was


2016 campaign kicks off
The early half of 2015 marked the start of the 2016 presidential campaign. More than a handful of candidates have joined the race.
Among Republicans, there are six declared candidates: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
Only two Democrats have announced their presidential ambitions: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Iowans can expect to see many of those candidates in Iowa this summer, starting Saturday when the Iowa Republican Party hosts its annual Lincoln Dinner.
More candidates are expected to make decisions on their rumored campaigns toward the end of this month.
Tong Shao
In late September, the body of missing Iowa State student Tong Shao, 20, was found in the trunk of a Toyota Camry in Iowa City. She had been missing for around a week.
Shao had last made contact with her friends on Sept. 8, stating she and a friend were going to Minnesota. Her friends then reported her missing on Sept. 17, and her body was found on Sept. 26.
Since then, her autopsy report was released to police but information from the report has remained confidential.
Police have searched for Shao’s boyfriend, Xiangnan Li, a former finance major in the Tippie College of Business, at the time of the crime but no information has been released regarding him.
Police believe he returned to China after cell-phone records indicated he left the country.
Andrew Mogni and Rodric Jackson
After tragedy struck two members of the Beta Mu chapter of Sigma Nu, the community came together to raise money for the two families.
Rodric Jackson, one of the brothers, was diagnosed with a stage-3 brain tumor.
Andrew Mogni, another Sigma Nu brother, fell while studying abroad at John Cabot University. After spending a time in the hospital in Rome, he was transferred to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he died 80 days after the fall.
Roughly 500 people filled the IMU Second-Floor Ballroom a week after his death to gather and share stories celebrating his life.
Two GoFundMe.com fundraisers relating to Mogni and Jackson have raised around $16,000 so far.
Dubuque Street Cottages
Three cottages from the 19th century were hotly debated about in December because of the fate of their historic status.
The City Council voted against their historic status, 4-3, on Feb. 9, which eliminated hopes to stop their potential demolition.
Cottages property owner Ted Pacha said he will do what he wants with his property.
Part of the debate over the cottages was whether they were in disrepair, as both sides had filed conflicting engineering reports.
Currently, two of the cottages stand; the cottage at 614 S. Dubuque St. was torn down late Dec. 25 or early Dec. 26, 2014.
Dance Marathon
Dance Marathon 21 surpassed the $2 million mark at the Big Event this year, raising around $200,000 more than the previous year.
The 2,500 dancers raised $2,001,856.21.
Coralville was announced as one of this year’s overnight stops for RAGBRAI, the annual bike ride across Iowa.
The night at the Iowa River Landing will be the first for the site and the first for Coralville since 2011.
The overnight stop will have a Hollywood theme, featuring entertainment for riders.
Solidarity protests
Numerous solidarity protests occurred on campus this year against police violence.
The first, part of a nationwide “Hands Up Walk Out” organized by the Ferguson Action Committee for Racial Justice had around 50 people gather on the Pentacrest.
The second, to protest the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore and other victims of alleged police violence, occurred in May.
Around 150 people gathered on the Pentacrest to protest against police violence.
Mason to retire
University of Iowa President Sally Mason will retire from her post at the end of July.
She will remain at the UI for one transition year as tenured faculty, during which she will receive a roughly $315,000 salary. She will also be due $625,000 in deferred compensation.
The state Board of Regents also granted Mason the designation “president emeritus.” She told The Daily Iowan she plans to settle in her home in Hilton Head, South Carolina, afterwards.
Currently, a 21-member Presidential Search Committee is working with Atlanta firm Parker Executive Search to find a successor. The regents hope to have a new president in place in early September.
UI student governments hold elections
The undergraduate UI Student Government held elections in April. Students voted for Liz Mills and Morgan Brittain — both from the REAL Party — as president and vice president, respectively. The two won by 278 votes.
However, 21 BEACH Party candidates were elected to the UISG Senate compared to 18 from the REAL Party. Appointed freshman and members from diversity-based organizations will fill the remaining 11 seats.
Meanwhile, the Graduate and Professional Student Government delegates voted Josh Schoenfeld as president and Brandon Gerleman as vice president.
Schoenfeld is a fourth-year student in the medical scientist training M.D./Ph.D. program, and Gerleman is a second-year pharmacy student.
New regents appointed
The new state Board of Regents term began May 1 with four new faces.
Sherry Bates, a retired social worker from Scranton and a registered independent, was appointed to the board following the resignation of Nicole Carroll. Carroll resigned following a family move to Texas.
Patricia Cownie, who has been involved in numerous civic initiatives and is from Des Moines, succeeded Ruth Harkin. She is a Republican.
Mary Andringa, CEO Vermeer Corp. and a Republican from Mitchellville, succeeded Robert Downer.
Rachael Johnson, a University of Northern Iowa education major and independent, succeeded Hannah Walsh.
Walsh previously told the DI she sought reappointment. She will soon graduate from the University of Iowa and pursue a graduate degree at the UI College of Education.
The new regents will have just one registered Democrat and will have no one from Johnson County.
AIB due to close
A Des Moines business school is marching forward to closing.
Early this year, University of Iowa President Sally Mason announced AIB College of Business would become a UI Des Moines campus. The idea was to absorb AIB’s students after the transition.
However, after the Higher Learning Commission raised concerns over accreditation and other issues, the plans were reversed. Now, AIB will close in June 2016, and the UI plans to takes over the campus and turn it into a regional regents center.
The UI will own and operate the campus while offering space to other institutions interested in offering courses. The proposal is still subject to state Board of Regents proposal.
AIB has been winding down its operations and has lost a quarter of its students. Its athletics program ended this spring.
KKK statue roils campus
A controversial statue depicting a robed KKK figure lit up the University of Iowa campus. 
Some members of the UI community found the statue deeply offensive and said they were terrorized, while others defended the statue and said it was a  symbol of the freedom of speech.
Serhat Tanyolacar, a UI printmaking fellow, created the statue. The statue’s robe comprised different newspaper clippings depicting racial tensions and riots over the past century.
University of Iowa President Sally Mason started a presidential Black Student Advisory Committee following the incident.
Regents pass third tuition freeze
Some students at the University of Iowa could graduate without ever seeing a tuition increase.
In December 2014, the regents passed a third-consecutive tuition freeze for resident undergraduate students. All other students would see an increase.
Some officials lauded the freeze, calling it historic and helpful for Iowa families, while other expressed concerns about the reduced funding for the universities and the possibility of a tuition spike next year.
The Iowa Legislature is still debating university appropriations, which could fund the freeze.

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