UI sophomore Abby Crow becomes next student regent

Six years after the last Hawkeye student served, a second-year human physiology student will take the student seat on the state Board of Regents.


Kate Heston

University of Iowa student Abby Crow poses for a portrait on April 20, 2021. Crow is majoring in human physiology and his the new student regent on the Iowa board of regents.

Eleanor Hildebrandt, News Reporter

On a normal night in January, Abby Crow was sitting on her couch at her home in Tiffin, Iowa, enjoying her winter break with her parents when her phone went off.

As a movie played on Netflix, she saw she received an email from the University of Iowa’s Office of the President inviting her to interview to potentially become the next student to serve on the state Board of Regents.

“I saw an email that said, ‘Board of Regents’ and I thought it was interesting, so I clicked on it,” she said. “Then I spent 30 minutes reading about the position and doing research on Zack [Leist], the current student regent, and what this process was like. I told my parents and scheduled an interview with the UI Office of the President for the next day.”

Crow was appointed by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on April 16, who also reappointed Regents President Mike Richards and Greta Rouse, who previously served as a student regent from 2008 until 2012.

The student regent position was created in 1973 following the Vietnam War, when former Iowa State University and UI student Steve Zumbach was appointed by former Iowa Gov. Robert Ray.

Prior to Crow’s appointment, ISU student Zach Leist was a member of the regents from 2019 to 2021.

The last Hawkeye to have this position was Hannah Walsh, who served from 2012 to 2015. Crow, who will be the fifth UI student to serve on the board while taking classes, was confirmed unanimously by the Iowa Senate on April 28.

Crow, a second-year student is studying human physiology, is a resident assistant in Slater Residence Hall and works as a nursing assistant at the UI Hospitals and Clinics.

Since she was a kid, Crow said she’s enjoyed uplifting the people around her and being a helper in every way she can. She said helping students will continue to be her main goal as she takes her seat as a regent.

“This position is a natural extension of the work I do here on and off-campus and at the hospital,” she said. “My work is centered around helping others…I’ve always enjoyed listening and improving myself to help others more effectively. I think there will be some late nights, but it’s going to be a very rewarding experience for me.”

During her first few semesters on campus, Crow was a senator in Undergraduate Student Government, eventually serving as the co-chair of the Internal Affairs committee.

USG President Regan Smock said she is excited to collaborate with Crow and to see where she takes the position.

“Abby has been a leader in multiple places on campus,” she said. “She knows people in student government, and I hope we can have regular meetings to check in with her about how we can support her and what she can do to support us.”

Crow’s academic advisor, Ben Kirbach, wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan that she asks difficult questions to ensure she’s making the most of her time at the university.

He wrote that she is a passionate, hardworking, and knowledgeable student who pushed everyone around her to be the best version of themselves.

“Abby is smarter than I am,” he wrote. “And effortlessly more confident. If you ask her about a topic and she’s not an expert, you can bet that the next time the two of you meet, she will be. Abby is the type of person we should actively want to be a doctor, a lawyer, a policymaker, an astronaut—anything that requires more than the average amount of guts and brains.”

Related: Governor appoints new members of Board of Regents

He said Crow always has her sights set high and she is exceptionally driven, two qualities that will help her as the next student regent.

Smock added that she knows Crow is a great communicator. She said she knows Crow is the perfect choice for the student regent position.

“Abby is a very positive person and she’s easy to work with,” Smock said. “She has a lot of passions and when I found out [the next student regent] was her, I was ecstatic. She has experience and she will be very good at representing the student voice.”

Crow said she plans to lean on her connections to USG as well as friends at other regents’ institutions to better represent students of the UI, ISU, and the University of Northern Iowa.

The main focus of her term will be on how higher education in the state will transition as the pandemic comes to an end.

“I think a definite, central topic of discussion will be how we’re transitioning even further into a safe and sustainable life during COVID here,” she said. “As the vaccine rollout has been coming along and we need to be aware of what the regents’ universities need as well as balancing student interests.”

She said as a Resident Assistant and a student, she has heard concerns over how campus juggles the safety, health, well-being, and interests of students.

As her term begins this month, Crow said she is excited to act on behalf of students in a new capacity, but she is a bit nervous.

“I am very eager to get started with this work and being able to represent them and their voices,” she said. “I am someone who always enjoys learning and improving myself to help others more effectively and I will be putting my whole self into the work that I do.”