News Briefs

  • Physics Professor Yannick Meurice receives $1.3M grant from Dept. of Energy

    October 16, 2018

  • CLAS dean search finalists visit campus for open forums

    October 12, 2018

  • Dean Search

    October 01, 2018

  • Diane Hauser wins Lola Lopes Award for Undergraduate Student Advocacy

    October 04, 2018

  • UI students learn from, work with more than 200 guest artists each year

    October 04, 2018

  • UI awarded two grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation totaling $1.6 Million

    October 02, 2018

    The University of Iowa (UI) Obermann Center for Advanced Studies in the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development will host two grants totaling nearly $1.6 million from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation starting Oct. 1.

    “We are honored to receive these awards, which will greatly strengthen our efforts to enhance and expand humanities scholarship,” said UI President Bruce Harreld. “We’re also grateful for the Mellon Foundation’s continued support of the University of Iowa over the years.”

    Latina/o/x identity, belonging, and intersectional identities focus of Sawyer Seminar

    Rene Rocha, Ariana Ruiz, Darrel Wanzer-Serrano
    From top: Rene Rocha,
    Ariana Ruiz, Darrel

    The 2019-20 Mellon Sawyer Seminar “Imagining Latinidades: Articulations of National Belonging” will be co-directed by UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Latina/o Studies Program faculty member Darrel Wanzer-Serrano (Department of Communication Studies), Rene Rocha (Department of Political Science), and Ariana Ruiz (Department of Spanish and Portuguese), and will operate in partnership with the Obermann Center.

    The seminar will include more than 20 free presentations by renowned visiting scholars and artists, a film series, and public performances, all of which will engage questions of national identity, national belonging, intersectional identities (related to race/ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, etc.), and Latina/o/x peoples. The $225,000 from Mellon’s Sawyer Seminar program, which supports research on the historical and cultural sources of contemporary developments, will also fund a post-doctoral fellow and the dissertation research of two affiliated UI graduate students.

    “Latinoa/o/x people in the U.S. are often the focus of public policy and media coverage,” notes Wanzer-Serrano. “With more and more reports of everyday discrimination and hate against Latina/o/x peoples, their fate in the U.S. has never been more uncertain or more important to explore. This seminar will give University of Iowa students and scholars, the Iowa community, and the national media a chance to explore and have a productive discussion on questions of national belonging, national exclusion, and alternative practices of identification.”

    “Imagining Latinidades” will build upon the strong foundation of the UI’s interdisciplinary Latina/o Studies Program, itself an outgrowth of the Obermann Center’s 2012 Humanities Symposium, “The Latino Midwest.” The Latina/o Studies Program offers 18 courses and a minor, which 27 students are currently pursuing. 

    Teresa Mangum
    Teresa Mangum

    Humanities for the Public Good: An Integrative, Collaborative, Practice-Based Humanities PhD

    The University also received a four-year, $1,341,000 grant to support the Obermann Center’s creation of a degree in the Graduate College in collaboration with humanities departments that choose to participate, such as African American studies, American studies, anthropology, the visual and performing arts, art history, cinematic arts, classics, communication studies, history, languages, literature, philosophy, religious studies, and rhetoric. Campus libraries and museums will also be likely partners.

    John Keller
    John Keller

    Focus groups involving more than 60 UI faculty members, staff, and graduate students laid the groundwork for the proposal to explore balancing the strength of courses in these subject areas with experiential learning of skills and multimedia forms of communication along with mentoring by alumni and experts from a variety of workplaces. The goal is to prepare students for diverse careers, specifically in the non-profit sector, public policy, government, libraries, cultural administration, technology, publishing, and institutional education and research. The program will explore benefits of campus-community partnerships, team-taught courses, and funded summer internships and externships. The grant includes funding for postdoctoral fellows, graduate interns, faculty development opportunities, visiting scholars, travel to conferences, and co-learning opportunities for students, staff, faculty members, alumni, and community partners.

    Teresa Mangum, director of the Obermann Center, an interdisciplinary research center that provides funding and space to more than 100 faculty and student artists, scholars, and researchers each year, said she is committed both to fostering collaboration across academic and applied disciplines and to introducing graduate students to public engagement. In the past 13 years, the Obermann Center’s Graduate Institute on Engagement and the Academy has trained nearly 250 students to partner with allies in the public sector. Many of these students desire to pursue careers outside of the academy. Mangum notes, too, that women, LGBTQ students, and students of color are especially drawn to careers that connect research interests with community needs.

    Valuing the humanities

    “We are deeply grateful to the Mellon Foundation,” Mangum said. “While we often hear about the devaluing of the humanities, I proposed this grant because I hold the opposite view. Our work these next few years presumes that humanities scholars can contribute much-needed commitment to culture, values, careful research, historically and culturally sensitive practices, and civic dialogue to every sector. Increasingly, businesses as well as political, nonprofit, and cultural organizations see the importance of humanistic values—commitment to equity, inclusion, justice, empathy, and compassion—and humanistic methods and emphases on interpretation, storytelling, and meaning-making.”

    In preparing the grant, Mangum consulted with policymakers and leaders of museums and non-profits, finding interest on all sides. She also met with executives from several companies in Des Moines to gauge their interest in hiring—as interns or permanent employees—graduates earning humanities doctorates. She heard widespread appreciation for the cultural knowledge, research and analytical skills, and writing abilities graduates of humanities PhD programs could bring to a workplace. Her work was also influenced by the yearlong experiments with new forms of writing in the humanities supported by a National Endowment for the Humanities Next Generation Humanities PhD grant, led by then UI Professor Judith Pascoe.

    Forging alliances

    “‘Humanities for the Public Good’ asks instructional and tenured faculty, staff, alumni, and potential employers to forge alliances,” said Mangum. “We’re fortunate to have strong support for humanities graduate education from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the UI Libraries’ Digital Studio, the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development, the Graduate College, the cross-disciplinary Humanities Advisory Board, and, of course, the Obermann Center. Together, we can give students good reasons to pursue graduate humanities degrees and give employers good reasons to hire PhDs who integrate familiar research and writing with career skills gained through applied practice.”

    John Keller, Graduate College dean and interim vice president for research and economic development, said the Mellon awards coincide this year with a ranking by The Chronicle of Higher Education of the UI as 21st in the nation among U.S. colleges with the greatest research-and-development spending in the humanities.

    “At the University of Iowa, we have the bedrock on which to build inspiring opportunities for grad students in the humanities,” Keller said. “We have uniquely intertwined arts and humanities programs; a wealth of untapped alumni in diverse careers; and growing scholarly expertise in public history, oral history, digital arts and humanities methods, multimedia writing for varied audiences, and publicly engaged scholarship.”

    The UI has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with the Mellon Foundation.

    Long and fruitful relationship with the Mellon Foundation

    In 2015, the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies collaborated with  Grinnell College on a a multi-year Mellon grant for Digital Bridges for Humanistic Inquiry: A Grinnell College/University of Iowa Partnership. With support from the UI Libraries’ Digital Scholarship & Publishing Studio and digital librarians at Grinnell College, UI and Grinnell faculty members and students enriched the teaching and research mission of both institutions through their work together.

    In addition, the Graduate College and the Obermann Center assisted three faculty members—Tim Barrett (Center for the Book), Paul Dilley (Departments of Classics and Religious Studies), and Katherine Tachau (Department of History)—who received an award for another Mellon Sawyer Seminar, “Cultural and Textual Exchanges: The Manuscript across Pre-Modern Eurasia.” The year-long, interdisciplinary collaboration brought 25 international scholars and conservators to the UI to map cultural exchanges across Eurasia around 400 CE. The seminar members studied traveling manuscript technologies through presentations and hands-on workshops.

    Said Mangum, “The first Sawyer Seminar brilliantly embodied the ‘Iowa Idea’—learning through the imaginative entanglement of scholarship and the arts. As we launch these next two grants, we’ll be building on the widening networks we’ve created and the valuable lessons about collaboration we’ve gleaned thanks to the Mellon Foundation’s generosity.”

    Mangum will share further details of the grant at an opening event scheduled for 4 p.m. on Nov. 13 at the Iowa City Public Library.

  • Nonfiction Writing Program students award Krause Essay Prize to Shawn Wen

    September 26, 2018

  • CLAS names Benjamin Coelho Interim Director of School of Music

    September 26, 2018

  • UI Art Building to be home of new innovation center

    September 18, 2018

  • Do you know what to do if someone is struck by cardiac arrest?

    September 18, 2018

    CPR trainingThe University of Iowa is on a mission to save lives—and to become the nation’s next HEARTSafe Campus.

    • Sudden cardiac arrest is the third leading cause of death in the United States, affecting 350,000 Americans annually.
    • People of all ages can experience sudden cardiac arrest; four people have been saved by CPR on the UI campus since 2015, including in a dormitory and the CRWC.
    • The overall survival in the U.S. is 10 percent, but the odds that an individual survives can be markedly improved if CPR starts within the first few minutes, followed, if indicated, by defibrillation. 
    • Mortality increases by 10 percent with each passing minute. 
    • Immediate CPR doubles or triples the chance of survival; defibrillation will double that figure.

    To make that happen, UI administrators are encouraging faculty, staff, and students to take advantage of CPR training offered by the university, including instruction on the use of Automatic External Defibrillators, or AEDs.

    The effort, part of the UI’s Richard E. Kerber HEARTSafe Initiative, seeks to help the UI meet certification standards for the HEARTSafe Campus designation by the National Collegiate Emergency Medical Services Association. 

    The designation would make the UI the first campus in the state to be designated a HEARTSafe Campus, and just the second Big Ten university, after the University of Illinois.

    President Bruce Harreld has set a target of qualifying for the HEARTSafe Campus designation during the spring 2019 semester, and hopes that UI community members will take advantage of the available CPR training opportunities, as the staff in the President’s Office have done.

    Richard Kerber
    Richard Kerber, M.D.

    “The UI is dedicated to ensuring the safety of everyone on campus, and the Kerber CPR Initiative is giving our university community the knowledge and training we need,” Harreld said. “I encourage our students, faculty, and staff to help us achieve designation as a HeartSafe Campus to demonstrate our commitment to safety at Iowa.”

    Most undergraduates received training in high school. All students, including graduate students, are encouraged to refresh their knowledge and skills by taking advantage of training offered by Student Health and Wellness.

    In addition to providing CPR training opportunities, the UI is working to ensure that all campus buildings are equipped with AEDs. View a map of buildings with AEDs. The Department of Public Safety has made sure that AEDs are in all medical buildings, and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has placed AEDs in all of the campus buildings housing the college's departments and programs.

    The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences administration has also provided funding for CPR/AED training opportunities for its staff, and the Department of History and the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies have risen to the challenge by providing training for its faculty and staff.

    CLAS Associate Dean Marc Armstrong explained the college's motivation for providing leadership in the initiative.

    "By funding the purchase of the AED devices, as well as a series of CPR training sessions,  the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has been very pleased to cooperate with the Richard E. Kerber HEARTSafe Initiative," Armstrong said. "We want to help make the vision of a HEARTSafe Campus a reality—and above all, we want to save lives."

    The Richard E. Kerber HEARTSafe Initiative was launched in 2017, spearheaded by Linda Kerber, professor emerita of history and widow of Richard Kerber. Richard Kerber, who was a faculty member in UI Health Care’s Division of Cardiology for more than 45 years and was a pioneer in CPR research, died in 2016 at age 77.


The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Iowa is a comprehensive college offering 68 majors in the humanities; fine, performing and literary arts; natural and mathematical sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and communication disciplines. More than 17,000 undergraduate and 1,900 graduate students study each year in the college’s 37 departments, led by professors at the forefront of teaching and research in their disciplines. The college teaches all UI undergraduates through the General Education Program, and confers about 70 percent of the UI's bachelor's degrees each academic year.