Joan Kjaer, International Programs, was recently recognized with the University of Iowa Outstanding Staff Award. The award recognizes UI staff members who have made significant contributions—above-and-beyond typical job responsibilities—that benefit the university.
Up until her recent retirement, Kjaer was the director of communications and relations in International Programs. Kjaer remains active on campus as director of WorldCanvass, a unique, internationally focused program that features conversations with scholars, community members, and thought leaders before a live audience to discuss questions and issues of the day from a wide range of perspectives.
“Joan’s signature achievement is the WorldCanvass forum,” remarked Russ Ganim, associate provost and dean of International Programs. “She thoroughly researches every topic and prepares questions for each of the three segments over the show’s 90-minute timeframe. To a person, the panelists compliment Joan on her breadth of knowledge, as well as her ability to unify the conversation and bring it back to its central focus. In addition, the panelists consistently remark on how Joan makes them feel at ease.”
Reflecting on the success of WorldCanvass, UI International Writing Program Director Christopher Merrill commented, “Joan casts a wide net in her determination to represent the best of what the university has to offer, inviting thought leaders from a range of disciplines to explore with her pressing cultural, political, scientific, and social issues. Her programs are always engaging, because she brings together interesting personalities and makes them feel comfortable enough to speak from the heart…”
Teresa Mangum, director of the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies and professor in the UI Department of Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies and English, spoke to Kjaer’s role as a leader and mentor on campus. “In Joan’s work, I always see a commitment to lifelong learning, attention to diverse voices, an insistence on using research and discovery to see beneath the surfaces to the complexities and variety of problems and solutions, and the celebration of our students and fellow faculty and staff members’ accomplishments and successes.”
International Programs (IP) at the University of Iowa (UI) is committed to enriching the global experience of UI students, faculty, staff, and the general public by leading efforts to promote internationally oriented teaching, research, creative work, and community engagement. IP provides support for international students and scholars, administers scholarships and assistance for students who study, intern, or do research abroad, and provides funding opportunities and grant-writing assistance for faculty engaged in international research. IP shares their stories through various media, and by hosting multiple public engagement activities each year.