The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

UI Center for Human Rights finds home at Law School

The University of Iowa Center for Human Rights will bridge the Iowa River.

The center will be located in the UI College of Law starting July 1, avoiding a likely closure due to a lack of funding.

“[The announcement of the partnership] has been able to reaffirm human rights does have a very important role to play for the university,” said Adrien Wing, a UI law professor who will become director of the center on July 1. “People who were doubting that or who were worried that the university wasn’t interested in human rights now know that’s not the case.”

Wing said the UI law school and Provost’s Office will help provide “significant funding,” meaning the center will no longer have to worry about funding issues. The center will also keep its current office at the UI International Programs office in the University Capitol Center as well as the new location in the UI law school.

“In the past, the center had to be concerned with its survival, and now we won’t have to worry about that,” she said. “The center is going to be able to thrive with the financial resources and personal resources, and move to a whole new level.”

Gail Agrawal, the dean of the UI law school, said early discussions of the partnership began when the center was facing the possibility of closing.  After speaking with faculty, Agrawal spoke with Provost P. Barry Butler and Downing Thomas, the dean of International Programs, about the possibility of a partnership with the UI law school.

Thomas said it was clear for several years the funding model for the center was unsustainable, which led officials to look at a variety of schools to host the center. However, in the fall of 2012, it became clear the law school was the most interested, and talks continued even after officials announced in September the center would close in the summer.

“We did not have a good strong plan six months ago that would allow us to say [the center would stay open],” he said. “You can’t just pull the plug on something like that, so we needed to begin planning since at that time we didn’t have a solid vision for what the 4 center would be after July 1.”

Agrawal, Thomas, and Wing all stressed the importance of keeping the multi-disciplinary history of the center intact and moving forward.

“We are providing the collegiate home, and are not the sole and exclusive partner for the center,” she said. “ We want to preserve the multidisciplinary approach, and the center’s broad range of partners both in the community and the campus.”

The future director said the detailed plans for the center’s future would be discussed at a retreat this spring with the board. However, one of her goals is continuing to draw more UI colleges into the center.

“One of my goals is to try to get every college involved, and that includes the sciences,” Wing said.

Agrawal said one of the opportunities she sees in the law school is a partnership with student-published journals. Ranging in topics from gender to international issues, she believes papers could be focused on human-rights topics as well as the possibility of symposiums.

Wing said she would like to hold an opening conference for the center in the fall with the theme to be picked at the spring retreat. She hopes to have events like it every year, and choose a topic people in every college would be interested in.  Beyond her plans for the center’s future, the law professor said the director position is something she has hoped for.

“For me it’s like a fulfillment of a dream to able to have the center, which will be able to do things across the various disciplines,” she said.

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