UI RAGBRAI team pedaling across Iowa to spread Hawkeye spirit

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UI RAGBRAI team pedaling across Iowa to spread Hawkeye spirit

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Marissa Payne, [email protected]

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A team of University of Iowa officials is pedaling across the state this week, each member donning black and gold to spread Hawkeye pride while participating in RAGBRAI.

The team, organized by the Office of the President, comprises officials from various university departments, bringing colleagues together whether they consider each other mere acquaintances or familiar faces.

“We were fortunate to be on the UI team last year and again this year,” said Steve Roe, the UI director of athletics communications, in an email to The Daily Iowan. “It was a great feeling to represent the university as we rode across the state and mingled with riders from all around the country.”

Team member Steven Troester, the IT director for the UI Information Technology Services, participated on the UI RAGBRAI team last year and said he enjoyed bonding with other university colleagues.

“We really bonded as a group throughout the week, because you’re basically spending the majority of every day with the same group of people,” he said. “… You’re staying overnight with these people and eating meals with these people, so you really bond as a group as the week goes on.”

The Hawkeyes ride with a common mission: to speak with Iowans about the work taking place on the UI campus. But engaging with Iowans about the university’s achievements can prove to be a challenge, particularly in the western part of the state that is more heavily dominated by Cyclones fans, Troester said.

Nonetheless, team member and Iowa native Cheryl Reardon, the UI chief human resource officer and associate vice president, said forming relationships with people — especially Iowa youth — is one of the things she enjoys most about RAGBRAI.

“It’s one of those things that if you grew up in the state, you want to put that on your bucket list,” Reardon said. “… What’s so special about it is being able to see the small towns in Iowa and how those small communities are so excited to greet the riders, and then our ability to carry the Hawkeye spirit across the state is a great way for us to reach out to the citizens of Iowa …”

From the construction of new facilities such as Hancher and the Visual Arts Building to the opening of the new Stead Family Children’s Hospital, several team members said UI officials have a lot to brag about. The research and care provided through UI Hospitals and Clinics is one of those boast-worthy efforts, said Nike Fleming, deputy counsel for UIHC.

“We can provide care that not many places in the state and sometimes even the country can provide, and getting to talk about that is really rewarding,” she said.

Team member Chris Traetow, the UI associate director of undergraduate admissions, said that because he oversees outreach efforts, RAGBRAI affords him a unique opportunity to reconnect with Iowans he has met during recruitment events for prospective students.

The best part of RAGBRAI, he said, is connecting with people from all over Iowa and the world as the team bikes from town to town on the blacktop, all while proudly sporting their university jerseys.