Iowa News Nuggets

Here's an overview of key happenings and milestones at some colleges and universities in Iowa, a state with a 130-year-old tradition of providing equal access to education to people of color.






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Publication: Diverse Issues in Higher Education
Author: Oguntoyinbo, Lekan
Date published: April 15, 2010

Des Moines Area Community College, Des Moines - As part of its effort to blend diversity with creativity and critical dunking, the college has developed a program that each year offers a single book for all faculty to incorporate into their coursework. This school year, the program, known as "One Book, One College, One Community," is reading "Hope's Boy." The book, a memoir by lawyer Andrew Bridge, details how his mother's declining mental health forced him into a loveless foster home that repeatedly failed to accept him and how he overcame that, earned a scholarship to go to college, attended Harvard Law School and became a Fulbright scholar.

Drake University, Des Moines - This private university recently launched the Brotiier to Brother project, a leadership program designed to help minority male students develop characteristics of manhood, academic success, service learning, financial literacy and multicultural competence. The program will encourage participants to create their personal visions and spur them to take a keen interest in such matters as leadership, teamwork, campus involvement and community service

Grand View University, Des Moines - The liberal arts college of approximately 2,000 students recently completed the largest and most successful capital campaign in its history. The university exceeded its campaign goal of $15 million by $5 million. The campaign funded die construction of a new academic building and contributed to the support of scholarships and the university's endowment.

Grinnell College, Grinnell - This liberal arts college received a $500,000, four-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation last year mat steers students from culturally under-represented groups toward teaching and college careers. There are 10 Grinnell fellows. They receive mentoring from faculty, funding for conference attendance, loan repayment support for graduate school and an opportunity to build relationships with a network of colleagues throughout the country.

Kirkwood Community College, Cedar Rapids - A market study conducted by Iowa Workforce Development noted an overall wage increase of nearly 36 percent among workers six months after they completed Kirkwood's Call Center Customer Service Certification program. The study was conducted witi a sample of 218 program participants from 2004 to 2007. The Call Center program, developed in partnership with eight employers in 1998, provides training in a 13-week session in financial services, technology and telephone communication skills.

Simpson College, !ridianola - The liberal arts college, where George Washington Carver matriculated as a college freshman more than a century ago, is gearing up for its 150tii anniversary. Organizers hope to use the sesquicentennial, which begins in September, to increase the United Methodist-related college's visibility. The celebration begins Sept. 24 - 150 years to the day that Simpson opened as the Indianola Male and Female Seminary. The school went through a couple of name changes in its infancy - Des Moines Conference Seminary and Simpson Centenary College - before adopting Simpson as its name in 1885.

University of Iowa, Iowa City - Fifteen student engineers at the state's premier institution of higher learning have designed a hand-held device to sanitize water. More than 1 billion people around the world, most of them in Third-World countries, do not have access to clean water. This lack of access to clean water exposes them to potentially fatal diseases like typhoid. The device won a first-place award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is now being tested in developing countries.

University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls - In an effort to help diversify the ranks of K- 12 administrators in Iowa, the university has launched the Minorities in Leadership in Education Program. The goal is to entice more educators of color to pursue their doctoral degrees or certificates as principals or superintendents. The university offers significant tuition reductions - in some cases higher than 50 percent. Private donors, the university and grants from the federal government fund these scholarships, according to Dr. Nicholas Pace, the program coordinator and an associate professor of educational leadership at UNI. The university has also actively reached out to eligible educators of color and, in less than two years, the number of minority educators participating in the certificate or doctoral programs has jumped from two to 11.

William Penn University, Oskaloosa - William Penn, a liberal arts university founded 137 years ago by the Quakers with a goal of providing a quality education to all, has appointed its first female president. Dr. Ann Fields spent the first 20 years of her working life as a farmer but chose to enroll in college on the eve of her 40th birthday in part because of the farm crisis of the 1980s. She served as William Penn's interim president before her appointment in February. Fields, who holds bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from Iowa State University, joined William Penn as adjunct faculty in 2001 . She rose steadily tiirough the ranks, becoming vice president of operations and systems in 2008. Fields' appointment increases the number of female private college presidents in Iowa to six.

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