Guest Opinion: Resources necessary to support research that enhances lives


The Daily Iowan; Photos by Ashle

Faculty Senate President Peter Snyder talking in the Old Capital Senate Chambers on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2017. The meeting included the annual report from the Office of the Ombudsperson and was the last meeting of the Fall 2017 semester. (Ashley Morris/The Daily Iowan)

The University of Iowa’s rigorous research-based education must be supported by funding from the state.

I have been a faculty member at the University of Iowa for 21 years and have the honor this year to serve as president of the Faculty Senate. As a born and raised Hawkeye, I have always been proud of the high value that Iowa places on education. This is something that I highlight when I travel to other universities and when I’m recruiting students and faculty to UI. Our emphasis on the value of education has been an enormous benefit to our citizens. It has made Iowa a center of creativity and innovation. And it has provided a competitive advantage for recruiting workers and businesses to the state. However, I am worried that as a state, we are losing this value. We have disinvested in our public universities in a way that jeopardizes our future.

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Like most of our faculty, I have several roles here at UI. As a cardiologist, I care for patients at UIHC. I teach students, residents, and fellows, and I conduct research into the underlying causes of hypertension. This research mission sets our public universities apart. Our faculty make discoveries that will enhance the lives of our citizens. These discoveries give us hope that our children and grandchildren will have a better future, and our research provides additional tangible benefits. It creates new businesses that produce jobs and attracts talent to the state.

Just as important, our research has an enormous impact on the education of our students. Most of our students are exposed directly to cutting-edge research as part of their education. They conduct research in our labs, they do Honors projects with our faculty in the arts, humanities, and sciences, and they learn from these faculty in the classroom. These experiences allow our students to learn at the point of creation and discovery, providing access to information that has not yet reached the textbooks. This research-intensive education also helps many students make a seamless transition into our graduate and professional programs, where we train the next generation of doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, lawyers, teachers, business leaders, engineers, and other professionals that will serve the citizens of our state.

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All of this requires resources. We need resources to recruit talented faculty to UI and to keep them here. We need resources to equip our laboratories and classrooms. And we need resources to provide financial support to students who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford a college education. The UI and our sister institutions have been under-resourced for a number of years. This has had a number of negative consequences, including the loss of talented teachers and researchers to other institutions. But perhaps most importantly, if we continue down this path, it will deprive Iowa students of the education that they deserve. Our children should not have to leave Iowa to get a first-rate education — they should be able to get it right here. The strength of our public universities should also be a focal point to attract talented students, faculty, and staff to our state, and a reason they want to build their careers here in Iowa. It is time for our legislators and our governor to reinvest in public higher education in Iowa.

– Peter Snyder

Faculty Senate President



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 informational pieces and pieces from UI community leaders highlighting the value of higher education and calling for advocacy. Continue checking as Iowa’s universities face this critical issue.

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