June 4, 2012
Our goals and objectives fit within the broader context of the strategic plans of the Graduate College and of the University as a whole. The University's Strategic Plan for 2010-2016 identifies four key areas for strategic investment in excellence: undergraduate, graduate, and professional student success; knowledge and practice; the arts; and better futures for Iowans. In carrying out this mission, the University will be guided by its commitment to a set of core values: learning, community, diversity, integrity, respect, excellence, and responsibility.
We share these values and in particular we value the importance of excellence in learning, through both teaching and research, to improve the lives of peoples in communities while promoting increased opportunities for diversity. We are also guided by the Strategic Plan’s call for the University to “… expand our public engagement to contribute to economic and cultural vitality and to the health and quality of life of the people of Iowa.” Faculty research and scholarship are directly targeted at improving the lives of Iowa’s citizens and beyond through our concern with urban and regional development issues locally, regionally and nationally. Our educational mission is clearly aligned with the goal of enhancing professional and graduate education. And our commitment to public engagement, especially through our Field Problems curriculum, enables us to play an increasingly valuable role in Iowa’s communities.
In 2008, University President Sally Mason designated sustainability as one of the priority areas for the university. Our School is an integral part of this effort. We have created several courses, at the undergraduate and graduate level in planning for sustainability. Two of our faculty members, James Throgmorton (retired in 2010) and Lucie Laurian, were actively involved in the task force that designed the new undergraduate certificate in sustainability, which became available for the first time in the Fall of 2009. Subsequent to Professor Throgmorton’s retirement, Charles Connerly was named to be a member of the undergraduate sustainability certificate committee.
The School successfully participated, along with the UI Public Policy Center, in the University’s first campus-wide cluster hire initiative, which is focused on building upon the university’s strengths in water sustainability. As a result, the School was able to hire a natural resources economist, Aaron Strong, who joined the faculty in Fall 2010. In addition, our students have been very active in the newly formed Office of Sustainability with three serving as interns during 2008-2009, followed by a formal arrangement whereby the two units share the cost of supporting a graduate research assistant who works in the Office of Sustainability (this was discontinued in 2011-2012 due to funding issues in the Office of Sustainability). Finally, in 2009 we responded to the President’s sustainability initiative by creating the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities, which links faculty and student interests in assisting communities in Iowa with sustainability related plans. As a result of our success in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 we were awarded the opportunity to create a Sustainable Dubuque program whereby all of our second year graduate students focus their Field Problems projects on sustainability issues in Dubuque. This two year initiative runs from 2011 through the end of the 2012-2013 academic year.
To advance the University’s goal of increasing the number of premier graduate and professional programs, the Graduate College Strategic outlines several themes on which it concentrates, including: 1) enhancing the distinctive character of graduate programs at Iowa and the overall graduate experience; 2) improving the quality and diversity of graduate students and faculty; 3) continuously assessing the quality and performance of graduate programs; 4) promoting career preparation. The Graduate College also plays an important role in achieving the University’s goals of enhancing distinguished research and scholarship, and enhancing interdisciplinary teaching, research and service interaction. We share these goals, and we seek to contribute to achieving them.