By Earlene E. Erbe
‘The plane lands safely” isn’t news but it happens every day and millions of lives are protected and frequently enriched for the experience.
And so the University of Iowa educates thousands of minds, investigates the unknown, discovers the cures and protects lives every day but that isn’t news either, sadly. I have been a part of this university for 23 years and am very proud of the accomplishments that go unnoticed and unheralded.
This institution contributes to the economic stability of the region and the state. In February 2011, Iowa City was tied for third-lowest unemployment rate in the nation. The employees (also taxpayers) have contributed to the sustainability of this economic stability by giving up 20 percent of their retirement contribution from the state for 18 months, adjusting workloads when a 10 percent budget cut was applied and staff positions were eliminated, and working every day to find and implement better ways of getting the job done well. There is a sense of camaraderie and commitment from the staff that ensures the job will get done well and challenges will be met and conquered with integrity.
There also is passion, which sometimes displays itself as conflict. But the conflict is settled, the issues are resolved, the institution is improved all with respect for those who work here and any others affected. Our campus has had its share of tragedy through which policies and procedures were put in place to both educate and protect those who live and learn and work here.
The quality of education is exemplary. The UI is ranked 28th-best public university in the nation and 72nd overall and continues to be recognized as one of the best public educational values in the nation, according to Kiplinger.
In 2008, the university experienced a devastating flood, paralyzing the entire campus for a week. Yes, that all made the news. But then the plane landed. Everyone came together to put this campus back on track. It wasn’t just recovery, it was rejuvenation.
This campus will ultimately be the showcase of the state with award-winning architecture and energy-efficient buildings that will house students and research for decades to come.
It takes leadership to land the plane, insightful, skilled and caring leadership. The UI has that leadership in President Sally Mason and her administration. The runway may be slippery, the plane may have damage but Mason lands it every day, and we are all protected and enriched for the experience.
Earlene E. Erbe, administrator of Undergraduate Laboratories, Department of Chemistry, University of Iowa, is president of the UI Staff Council. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org