University of Iowa to shift outreach and engagement programming to colleges

The University of Iowa announced Thursday that it will transition the model for outreach and engagement efforts into individual colleges and departments.


Wyatt Dlouhy

The Old Capitol building is seen in 2018.

Sarah Altemeier, News Reporter

The University of Iowa announced Thursday that next fall it will restructure its Outreach and Engagement Office to offer such programming through individual colleges and departments.

In 2013, former UI Provost P. Barry Butler created the Outreach and Engagement Office at the UI. The goal of this program was to aid colleges and departments at the university in improving community engagement across the state of Iowa. The UI said the office achieved this by supplying funding, staff support, and training to the various colleges and departments.

Service-learning projects, continued engaged scholarship from the Grant Wood Art Colony and Arts Share, and the awarding of the Carnegie Foundation’s Community Engagement Classification are some of the successes the program has seen since 2013.

Service-learning projects are projects in which UI faculty and students inside the classroom work with communities to address a local issue. Just last academic year alone, 31 service-learning projects involving more than 4,000 UI students were carried out, while 132 projects have taken place over the last two-and-a-half years.

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“We owe much of this success to Associate Provost Linda Snetselaar, whose leadership has been instrumental in building relationships with community leaders across Iowa,” Provost Montserrat Fuentes said in a statement. “These partnerships have and will continue to make a difference for our students and the Iowans we serve.”

The Office of Outreach and Engagement was reviewed last spring, six years after this program was implemented. While positively recognizing dozens of community partnerships, a wish for the growth of engagement efforts within colleges was prevalent, the statement said.

In conclusion of the review, the UI Provost’s Office will apply and transition the community-engagement model to the college and department level in the next school year.

This transition will go hand-in-hand with the the UI’s new budget model — a model that permits colleges and central services to have more control over their personal budgets.

Fuentes said since 2013, the program has matured enough to be transitioned back into the colleges, which will guarantee an efficient program and avoid internal duplication within the university.

“The faculty currently involved in this work will remain involved because they see how it supports student learning, provides research opportunities, and strengthens local communities,” Fuentes said. “This transition is a step toward greater engagement and Iowans who want to partner with the university should continue to reach out for expertise and assistance.”

Deans, collegiate leadership, and Path Forward Engagement subcommittee members will work with the Provost’s Office throughout this transition.

Snetselaar, a tenured faculty member in the College of Public Health, will be one of the individuals that will continue to stay active in this process — carrying out research, grant writing, and community initiatives.

“I am so proud of the work my team has done to support community-engaged learning across campus,” Snetselaar said in a statement. “These partnerships have provided students with real-world experiences, benefited local communities, and created new connections between the university and state we serve.”