Saturday, June 1, 2024
two students standing in front of a sign that says International Student Graduation Celebration, having their photo taken
Students at the International Student Graduation Celebration

Dear all,

Happy summer! Graduation kicks off the season, and this year's festivities were among the best in recent memory. We in International Programs focus particular attention on the International Student Graduation Celebration, held on May 8. The event took place in the International Ballroom, a venue which features the flags of over 100 countries that represent our international students studying at Iowa.

With about 200 people in attendance, the ceremony consisted of speeches, awards, and performances. It was especially gratifying to see the families and friends of our international graduates in attendance to lend their support. This event, which grows in popularity every year, provides an opportunity to showcase the determination, perseverance, and success of our international student community. Each graduate has a story of personal triumph which includes overcoming countless academic, linguistic, and cultural challenges. The University of Iowa’s (UI) reputation as an institution whose reach stretches across the world rests largely on these stories and the human impact they carry. It is an honor to hold this ceremony each year to highlight Iowa's continued strength as a leader in global education.

Cassie Barnhardt, Russ Ganim, and Curt Youngs in front of USAID sign
USAID Cooperative Agreement Principal Investigators Cassie Barnhardt (UI), Curt Youngs (ISU), and Russ Ganim at the Celebration of Partners event in Prishtina, Kosovo, on May 28.

Our leadership extends to the Republic of Kosovo, where I spent two weeks (May 15-30) reinforcing the multiple partnerships we have in that country. The first week centered on efforts to establish an Institute of Pharmacy at the University of Prishtina. With me on this leg of the trip was our great friend and colleague Don Letendre, dean of the UI College of Pharmacy. Don and I met with numerous individuals including faculty members, students, university administrators, health professionals, pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors, as well as government officials to give advice on how to develop better practices and deliver improved services and outcomes to the people of Kosovo. While the process of creating an Institute of Pharmacy at the University of Prishtina will likely be a lengthy one, the dedication and passion of those involved is quite impressive, and the UI is proud to play a part in this exciting initiative.

Russ Ganim with Ardi Mejzini and Charlotte Hilker with Iowa banner
With Media Director for the UI-USAID cooperative agreement Ardi Mejzini and UI Fulbright awardee Charlotte Hilker sporting Iowa pride in Prishtina

 The second week of my visit to Kosovo focused on events related to the University of Iowa-USAID Cooperative Agreement entitled, “Private Sector Partnerships to Strengthen Higher Education.” This five-year, $4.7 million collaboration is now in its second year, and is organized largely around developing curricula to meet private sector needs in information and communication technology (ICT) and agriculture. To date, the UI-USAID Activity has generated nearly 50 Memoranda of Understanding to promote workforce development in emerging sectors of Kosovo’s economy. The week culminated in a fabulous Celebration of Partners event on May 28, that recognized over 100 individuals in Kosovo who have contributed to the Activity and ensured its success. Special thanks and loud applause go to Principal Investigators, Professors Cassie Barnhardt (University of Iowa) and Curt Youngs (Iowa State University), as well as Chief of Party in Kosovo Elmaza (Eli) Gashi, for their tireless efforts in extending and deepening the visibility and impact of this crucial endeavor. 
And finally, we also wish to applaud our friend and alumnus David Hamod (BA, political science, ‘81), president and CEO of the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC), who learned in May that NUSACC was the proud winner of the 2024 E Star Award for Export Service. David and his team represent a superb example of the contributions the UI and Iowans make to the global community.


All the best,  

Russ Ganim signature



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.