The University of Iowa

Dean's Message: Gratitude and hope

June 7th, 2020
Jacob Gordon with study abroad cord and passport in hand
Jacob M. Gordon, May 2020 graduate of the University of Iowa.  Jacob studied abroad in Costa Rica and Cuba while a student at Iowa, as indicated by the graduation cord around his neck.

Now that the academic year has come to a close, I want to convey my sincerest thanks for the support given to International Programs throughout the year, and particularly during the spring semester.  The expressions of friendship and encouragement were deeply appreciated by all the staff in International Programs as we weathered the many challenges shared the world over.

I’d like to send a special note of congratulations to the graduating class of 2020, with special recognition to those graduates who studied abroad during their tenure at the UI. Their experience beyond the shores of the U.S. was no doubt a formative one and will position our graduates for success in their future endeavors.

We’ve been paying special attention to our international students located here in Iowa as many of them face unique circumstances. We sent and collected surveys related to academic and immigration issues, as well as mental health, housing, and possible food insecurity. Most of the international students who responded are doing well, but we continue to monitor the situation closely, and will be organizing social events (virtually) this summer to maintain a sense of community.

And for newly-admitted international students and current international students presently in their home countries, we are working with the Provost’s Office on organizing online courses for the fall semester.

Over the last few months we’ve been patiently awaiting news of Fulbright results for this year.  And I’m thrilled to share that the University of Iowa has broken a record again – 22 students received Fulbright awards.  We are so proud of the recipients, and grateful to all those that mentored them along the way, including our faculty mentors, International Programs staff, and others.  In honor of those involved, we held (virtually) our annual Fulbright Recognition Reception for Students and Faculty.

And finally, it comes as no surprise that Hawkeyes have proven to be resilient, and the sentiment of “Hawkeye Unity” has been shared by many.  To this end, International Programs captured some encouraging words from some of our alumni, both here and abroad, through a special video. You can watch the video here.

"If International Programs has one purpose, it is to open the minds and hearts of our community to the reality that the world is a stronger and better place when we celebrate the humanity in every individual and in every nation. We cannot learn to live together if we do not live to learn from each other."

I know that the future remains uncertain, but the University of Iowa continues to plan for ways to bring our campus community together and is taking deliberate steps to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Here in International Programs we remain hopeful, and are steadfast in our commitment to supporting our students wherever they are and helping them achieve their goals.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many heartwarming stories have surfaced and serve as reminders of the good in humanity. Unfortunately, we’ve also witnessed another side. From hateful rhetoric tying the pandemic to Asian origins resulting in acts of discrimination and microaggression toward Asian populations, to the senseless violence and horrific death of George Floyd, it is evident that much work needs to be done to achieve racial equity in our country.

If International Programs has one purpose, it is to open the minds and hearts of our community to the reality that the world is a stronger and better place when we celebrate the humanity in every individual and in every nation. We cannot learn to live together if we do not live to learn from each other. We must not only accept difference, but use it to empower and to better humankind.  

With warmest regards,

Russ Ganim signature

Russell Ganim
Associate Provost and Dean, International Programs

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