Message from the Director

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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

At this unprecedented time, I want to  wish you and yours health and safety and to update you as to what is happening in the School and to a larger extent, what is happening on campus.

It is one of my highest priorities to keep those of you who support our mission here at the SJMC abreast of happenings here in Iowa City, especially during this most trying of times.

  • As you may know, President Harreld has closed the campus, meaning that all non-essential staff have been asked to work from home.  A date for their return has not been set.  In addition, all campus events have been canceled, including spring commencement.  The SJMC has followed suit and canceled its Hall of Fame luncheon and 4th Estate Celebration, as well as all visits by professionals for the rest of the spring.  We will be holding our spring Professional Advisory Board meeting remotely.
  • These events have unsettled everyone on campus, not the least our students.  Many rely on part-time jobs (on and off campus) to make ends meet.  Since these jobs have halted along with the rest of student life, it has been difficult for some of these students to pay their bills.  The University has set up a student life emergency fund for these students.  If you have an interest in contributing to this fund, you may follow this link:
  • Faculty have been asked to transition all pedagogical activities to virtual settings for the remainder of the semester.  This includes undergraduate and graduate courses, theses defenses, independent studies, and undergraduate honors projects.  With the help of our amazing IT staff, including our local hero, Mike Hendrickson, faculty are making herculean efforts to make this happen. To help them do so, spring break has been extended one week.  Classes will begin again March 30th and finish on time on May 5th.  
  • In the midst of all of this stressful  and unsettling news, I am extraordinarily pleased to share with you some great news, that recently the Daily Iowan was voted Newspaper of the Year by the Iowa Newspaper Association, beating every newspaper in the State, including the Des Moines Register.  This is the highest honor for our students, our faculty and our community and marks the first time the DI won the award since 1981.

This note also gives me an opportunity to thank SJMC faculty and staff for their resilience and collegiality.  You will not find a harder working or more dedicated group of people.  Faced with a series of almost unimaginable events, they have risen to the challenge and kept the best interests of their students front and center.  I am extraordinarily proud to call them my colleagues and if you knew them as I do, I know that you would be equally as proud of who is representing the School that I know means so much to you.

I also recognize that these events have affected everyone across the country and globe.  If there is anything we can do for you during these tough times, please do not hesitate to ask.  I would love to hear from you.

I often say that a journalism school is only as strong as the community that supports it.  By this measure, the Iowa SJMC is strong indeed.  Thank you for your continued support as we look forward to better days.

Lastly and in closing, please come back to Iowa City and the SJMC when your schedule allows, once the crisis is past.  In these uncertain times, it helps all of us to be reminded of who we are and where we come from, and there is no better way to be reminded of this than seeing old friends and associates.

Hope to see you soon and be well.

David Ryfe

Director, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Iowa