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

Guest Opinion: Support higher education for a bright future for all


Jessica Klein is the future of Iowa.

The 22-year-old University of Iowa senior, who is from a third-generation farm family, is studying history and secondary education with a minor in political science.

She has deep roots in our state and wants to continue to grow her career here in the field of education.

Jessica participates in Collegiate 4-H and the Hawkeye Marching Band, in which she plays alto saxophone. She also volunteers at the Old Capitol Museum, the African American Museum of Iowa (in Cedar Rapids), and as a docent at Plum Grove Historic Home. In addition to her volunteer work, Jessica works at the UI Admissions Visitors Center as a transfer intern and reservationist, sharing her experiences with future Hawkeyes.

This energetic young woman is preparing to be a teacher, and she plans to return to a rural Iowa community, similar to her hometown of Guttenberg, to mentor the next generation.

As dean of the UI College of Education, I could not be prouder of all of our students as well as our hard-working faculty and staff. But I am also alarmed, as never before, about the potential damage that continued budget cuts to higher education will do to opportunities for students — and the welfare of our state.

As the first person in my family to attend college, I know how important state funding is to keep education opportunities affordable and accessible.

RELATED: UI helping first-generation students face higher education head-on

Without access to higher education, we cannot cultivate the next generation of teachers, pharmacists, counselors, superintendents, business owners, and engineers, just to name a few.

And without a fresh crop of graduates coming out of our state institutions every year, Iowa faces a drought of talent and leadership who will ensure that Iowa remains a vibrant place to live.

While student enrollment at the UI continues to rise — from more than 28,705 students in the fall of 1998 to 33,564 students in the fall of 2017, the state appropriation to support the UI has decreased, from $223 million in 1998 to $216 million in fiscal 2018.

At the same time, the state budget has grown from $4.36 billion in 1998 to $7.26 billion this fiscal year.

The UI is a beacon, not only for our Iowa students but for students across the nation and world who recognize the premier education offered.

Our students, faculty, staff, and alumni are from all 99 counties, all 50 states, and 117 countries and territories from around the globe.

Daily, these individuals are engaged with initiatives in communities that improve lives. This includes offering programs such as the STEM Excellence and Leadership program, which provides rigorous math and science enrichment classes to more than 600 students in 10 rural Iowa school districts.

Students in our Teacher Education Program alone contribute more than 10,000 hours of community service each year. Other projects support student veterans, English language learners, and professional development for teachers across the state.

RELATED: Prall: Legislators’ shooting range features education targets

The steady erosion of state funding for the UI imperils Iowa’s future.

Klein is the first member of her family to attend a four-year institution, and she works hard to maintain excellent grades. A combination of family support, part-time jobs, and scholarships are helping her. But she knows not everyone has this support.

She fervently wants to give her future students every opportunity to succeed and pursue their dreams. Without these opportunities, their futures could be bleak.

For the sake of Jessica Klein and all students who want to teach, lead, heal, volunteer, and serve our communities, I urge you to join me in showing support for higher education and keeping Iowa’s future bright for everyone.

— Daniel L. Clay, Ph.D., M.B.A., is the dean of the University of Iowa College of Education.



As the UI seeks funding from the state Legislature for its fiscal 2019 appropriations request and faces the possibility of more midyear budget cuts, the DI will publish pieces from UI community leaders and informational pieces highlighting the value of higher education and calling for advocacy. Continue checking as Iowa’s universities face this critical issue.

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