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

Rocklin thanks UI for enriching experience

Joseph Cress
University of Iowa President shakes hands with Tom Rocklin during a farewell reception for vice president of student life Tom Rocklin on Tuesday, May, 2, 2017. Rocklin began working at the University of Iowa in 1986, and was appointed to the vice presidency of student life in 2010. (The Daily Iowan/Joseph Cress)

After years of dedication and hard work, Vice President for Student Life Tom Rocklin — a man known and admired by many in the University of Iowa community — will soon bid farewell to the Hawkeye family.

When he started at the UI, Rocklin said, he only planned to stay at the university for a short time. However, he said, he later changed his mind and believed it was the better decision to stay.
“When I came to the University of Iowa a little over 30 years ago, I expected to stay two or three years and then move on to a better university,” he said. “I don’t know what I imagined to be a better university; here, I found a place that offered me opportunity after opportunity, most of which I never imagined I would pursue.”

A reception was held Tuesday evening to honor the impact that Rocklin has had at the UI. He will retire in July after 29 years of service at the university, which chose him to be Student Life vice president in 2010.

During his time as a faculty member, he was encouraged to apply for the faculty director of the newly formed Center for Teaching. Although confused by the suggestions, he listened and eventually became the new faculty director.

He said he received one of the greatest gifts from his career at the UI — the trust many people gave him to take on new challenges.

“The confidence that many people have in my ability to take on new challenges led me to great opportunities to grow and serve with all of the rewards that came along with those opportunities,” he said.

During his time at the UI, he always worked in the institution, and never had a “grownup job” outside the university. Academic intuitions, he said, are tremendous places to work because of the exciting events that take place.

“Beyond these other events, the universities are remarkable places for learning and discussion,” he said. “Places where ideas are born, innovated, fine-tuned, or shared, what that means is that the people that I run into each day, you folks, are very interesting people to talk to, and that’s another gift my career has rewarded me.”

The most important gift he said he’s received from his career can be tied to a line from a poem by poet and novelist Marge Piercy, “work that is real.” He said he feels fortunate to have had a career with enriching opportunities.

UI Student Government President Rachel Zuckerman described Rocklin as a compassionate leader who deeply cares about the UI community.

“He enriched the lives of faculty, staff, and most importantly the students,” she said.

UI President Bruce Harreld said Rocklin began a path of “indelible differences” when he started his career at the UI in 1986.

“Every word he’s touched, he’s making a difference,” Harreld said. “And when I first got here, I sat down with Tom and said, ‘What do you want to do?’ He said, “I really, really love students.”

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