‘Hawkeyes persevere’: President, provost address UI community amid COVID-19 spread

The University of Iowa president and provost sent a message to Hawkeyes addressing COVID-19 and encouraging efforts to contain its spread.


Ryan Adams

University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld talks with The Daily Iowan during an interview at the Adler Journalism Building on Feb. 13.

Kelsey Harrell, News Reporter

After classes moved online for the rest of the spring semester on Wednesday, top University of Iowa administrators commended Hawkeyes in a message to the university community Friday encouraging efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 and to envision the UI’s future after this pandemic. 

“The COVID-19 epidemic is a challenge unlike any we have faced in living memory, and we will all be confronted by our own unique and difficult trials in the weeks and months ahead,” said the letter, which was signed by President Bruce Harreld and Provost Montserrat Fuentes.

The letter said the UI Critical Incident Management Team has handled efforts to combat and respond to COVID-19. The team has met daily for the last several weeks to discuss the university’s next steps, the letter said, and teams of faculty and staff have been involved in the efforts to respond to the spread of the virus since January. 

The first cases of COVID-19 were identified in Iowa on March 8, and by March 11 the UI announced its move to online classes for at least two weeks after spring break through April 3. That timeline was extended Wednesday through the remainder of the semester following state health officials’ findings of substantial evidence of community spread of the novel coronavirus in Iowa.

“Now the responsibility has expanded to each and every one of us to protect ourselves and those around us,” the letter said. “Together we will beat coronavirus, and together we will bring life back to our campus. The immediate thing we can all do is to practice social distancing. But in our isolation, we must also think about the future.”

The letter asked university teams and supervisors to think about three questions: 

  • What can be done to help fellow faculty, staff, students, and community members?
  • What do university community members want campus to look like when this crisis is over and science has found a solution? 
  • What can people do to prepare for when campus is ready to return to full operation? 

Those in roles that will allow it, faculty and staff can volunteer to take on work more critical to the UI’s function, the letter said. Those who are able should consider donating blood to the DeGowin Blood Center

Now more than ever, institutions like ours are key to the long-term future of our state, nation, and world,” the letter said. “Addressing global challenges with fact-based solutions is at the core of our mission, and public research institutions like the University of Iowa can and must be in the vanguard of the long trek back to normalcy.

“We have an abiding faith in all of you. We will beat this. Hawkeyes persevere.”