UNI focused on courage and resilience
University of Northern Iowa President Mark A. Nook’s annual address to campus focused on two of the most pressing concerns facing the university - dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and improving UNI’s diversity and inclusion.
“It's important that we face the brutal facts of our reality,” Nook said in his Aug. 13 speech. “It's important that we focus on our mission, our vision, and especially our values as we deal with this pandemic.”
UNI has required everyone on campus to wear masks, reorganized classrooms to keep class sizes small and reconfigured the health center so those seeking COVID-19 testing and treatment are kept separated. Rapid COVID-19 testing and contact tracing have been made available on campus to students, faculty and staff.
The university has also been involved in helping with Iowa’s economic recovery, Nook said. UNI’s Institute for Decision Making created two surveys for the Iowa Economic Development Authority to gauge how businesses across the state were being impacted by the virus. And Advance Iowa put together webinars and other workshops for small and large businesses across the state to help them understand what they could do to keep their business moving forward during the pandemic.
“The goal was to try to control as much as possible the amount of spread of this disease and be able to keep the university open and be able to keep our local community businesses open as well,” Nook said.The other main focus of Nook’s speech was addressing the ways UNI is tackling issues surrounding diversity and inclusion. He acknowledged there is work to do. Some things underway include a new diversity advisory committee, programs to help students successfully transition to college and a partnership with Des Moines Area Community College’s urban campus that is the state’s first with a majority of minority students .
“As we deal with this global pandemic and COVID-19, it's easy to keep our focus on such a monumental issue for us. But it is important that we also maintain our focus on the social issues of our time,” Nook said. “At the University of Northern Iowa, we have a strategic plan and the overarching goal in our strategic plan is student success, supported by three pillars: diversity and inclusion, community engagement and campus vitality.”