Dear UNI Family,
On this nice sunny February afternoon, please forgive me for taking up a little space on your email account. My wife, Cheryl, and I have been on campus for nearly three weeks and have been so impressed with the warm welcome we have received. From what we experienced during our brief visit to campus in late November and early December, we expected to find a community that was supportive and welcoming, but we had no idea the genuinely warm and welcoming reception we would actually receive. We have also been able to witness firsthand the commitment to quality at UNI. From the faculty piano recital by Sean Botkin, to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. lecture, Panther athletic games and meets we attended, an impromptu tour of Kamerick Art Building by Brittany Flokstra following a basketball game and the individual meetings with students, faculty and staff, the dedication of the people of this campus to excellence in all you do comes shining through.
I know that we are facing some challenges with the budget reduction for this current year, some uncertainty about next year’s budget and potential changes to Iowa’s collective bargaining law. My commitment to each of you is to support all employees at UNI and to make sure we are able to offer competitive compensation packages that include wages, health insurance and other benefits so that we are able to continue to recruit and retain the high quality of faculty and staff that makes UNI a great place to learn, work and live. We cannot protect the high-quality learning experiences we offer our students and the unique UNI community without an unwavering commitment to working together to support each other and make sure we have the salaries and benefits for all employees that provide a competitive edge for UNI amongst our peers. My commitment to each of you, and to our community as a whole, is that I will be your strongest advocate—though sometimes behind the scenes, by leveraging the relationships we have built with a variety of folks in the state. I also commit that no matter what challenges come at us, we will work together collaboratively to keep UNI a great place to work.
I want to take a moment to thank several people who played key roles during the past several months. Please join me in thanking Jim Wohlpart for his work as the interim president of UNI. We all owe Jim a debt of gratitude for the great job he did in leading the university these last several months. Among many other challenging issues, Jim was able to continue the work on the university’s strategic plan and gain Board of Regents approval. I look forward to working with Jim to continue to strengthen UNI and our reputation as a university focused on the success of all of our students.
Please join me in also thanking Brenda Bass, Patrick Pease and Dennis Dahms for their leadership as interim executive vice president and provost, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and department head in geography, respectively. I spoke with many people across campus that sang the praises of Brenda, Patrick and Dennis for their leadership. Moving into these roles for what is known to be a relatively short time can be a very difficult task. It is clear that they were strongly supported by the faculty and staff they served and handled these leadership roles in a collaborative and supportive manner. Thank you Brenda, Patrick and Dennis!
Thanks again for the warm welcome you have given Cheryl and me as we start our lives at UNI. We are excited to be working with you to build on the excellent reputation and commitment to our students and the state to keep the University of Northern Iowa a nationally acclaimed public university long in to the future.
Mark A. Nook