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December 5, 2003
Volume 41, No. 5


A Year to Remember
$800,000 grant funds Hancher outreach project
A very small beginning: UIHC team helps parents through the highs and lows of premature birth
I-CASH pushes farm safety

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Outstanding international educators recognized
Provost interviews scheduled
Who are the givers among us?
SMART program solicits ideas to save cash
UI unveils new home page design

November Longevity Awards



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Ph.D. Thesis Defenses

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The University of Iowa

The University of Iowa

A Year to Remember

Richard Pratt consults with John Berolatus in a doctor's office setting
Kidney transplant patient Richard Pratt consults with John Bertolatus, associate professor of internal medicine. Photo by Susan McClellan.

It’s hard to believe that 2003 is almost out the door. It’s been a big year for The University of Iowa: we hired a new president, we earned favorable spots in several top 10 lists, and we generated a record-breaking amount in external funding. Although things look bleak as we head into yet another round of budget cuts—with more looming on the horizon—this year brought us much to be proud of.

The staff of fyi decided to end the year on a positive note by reminding readers of some inspiring UI moments. Thanks to the staff of University Relations Publications and University News Services for weighing in on some of the “coolest” stories to come out of The University of Iowa in 2003.

Football fans flood Florida to catch Hawkeye first

The UI football team made history on Jan. 2 when the Hawkeyes played the University of Southern California Trojans in Miami. It was the first appearance by Iowa in a Bowl Championship Series game, and although Iowa lost the contest, 38-17, the University took home a share of the multimillion-dollar BCS payoff. Iowa also impressed bowl organizers across the nation by sending 40,000-plus Hawkeye fans to Florida. At 9-3, the current Hawkeye roster has accepted an invitation to play the University of Florida Gators in the Outback Bowl on New Year's Day in Tampa, Fla. This marks the first time the Hawkeyes have played in back-to-back January bowl games.

Power Plant converts biomass to cash

The UI Power Plant implemented an innovative new energy program in January that will save the University hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. Burning discarded oat hulls from Quaker Oats in Cedar Rapids not only is cost-effective, it is better for the environment. The process reduces the amount of coal burned each year by 30,000 tons. See our story from the July 4 issue of fyi to learn more (“Biomass for the masses: An innovative oat-hull project at the UI Power Plant energizes campus,”

Old Capitol dome gets a makeover

Tad Wisemann and Joe Stockman prepare to raise the United States flag to the top of Old Capitol
Tad Wisemann, Old Capitol custodian, and Joe Stockman, area maintenance mechanic, prepare to raise the flags above Old Capitol. Photo by Kirk Murray.

After bursting into flames on Nov. 20, 2001, the Old Capitol finally got its top back Feb. 24. The new dome, gilded with $8,000 worth of gold leaf, is about 18 feet wide and weighs some 12,000 pounds. On May 13, Tad Wisemann, the building’s custodian, and Joe Stockman, area maintenance mechanic—who were on site at the time of the blaze and helped contain it—were on hand to hoist the flags above the dome. As part of the official flag-raising ceremony, the building’s new bell, a replacement for the 1,100-pound bell ruined in the fire, was rung for the first time.

Iowa Writers’ Workshop nets national honor

In a White House ceremony on Feb. 27, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop became the first university-based organization to win the National Humanities Medal, which honors America’s leaders in the humanities. President George W. Bush presented the medal to workshop director Frank Conroy. “The Iowa workshop was the first in the country,” Conroy said at the ceremony, “and I am accepting this award for all the people who have built it over its 67-year history.”

UIHC team performs 2,500th kidney transplant

The UI Hospitals and Clinics reached a milestone on July 30 when a 49-year-old from Alexis, Ill., became the 2,500th person to receive a kidney transplant at the medical center. UIHC completed the state’s first kidney transplant in 1969. It also performed Iowa’s first pancreas transplant in 1979, followed in 1985 by the state’s first heart transplant and first liver transplant. The UI transplant team ranks among the most accomplished in the nation—with one of the highest success rates. One year following their kidney transplants at UIHC, 99 percent of patients are alive, with 98 percent of the transplanted kidneys still functioning.

Geoscience excavates ancient sloth skeleton

Young woman with shovel digs at archeological site
JoAnn Seeman, a student staff member at the UI Museum of Natural History, helps excavate sloth bones in southwest Iowa. The skeleton will provide clues to how the prehistoric mammal lived. Photo by John Herbert.

In the summer of 2002, a couple in southwest Iowa discovered bones on their land near Shenandoah. When ultimately they brought the bones to the University’s Department of Geoscience, they realized the significance of their find—the remains of a giant sloth, a furry, plant-eating mammal that weighed two to three tons and became extinct some 9,500 years ago. A team of UI scientists and volunteers began working on the dig and will slowly excavate the skeleton over the next year. The discovery will provide new evidence about how sloths lived in Iowa during the ice age and will result in a new display at the UI Museum of Natural History.

Center publishes new Seamus Heaney works

The University’s fine press at the Center for the Book got dibs on publishing two previously unpublished poems by Seamus Heaney, the Nobel Prize-winning Irish poet who earned the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism, which is awarded by the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. The poems, “Testimonies” and “Stern,” were published as 11- x 16-inch broadsides and were signed by the author when he visited campus Sept. 25 to accept the award and read from his work.

UI campaign passes $660 million mark

Despite a sour economy, the UI Foundation announced in October that the University’s $850 million capital campaign—known as Good. Better. Best. Iowa: The Campaign to Advance Our Great University—has garnered more than $660 million in gifts and pledges, just over two-thirds of the way into the campaign. Faculty and staff contributions alone total more than $20 million. UI President David Skorton helped kick off the WSUI/KSUI fall fund-raising drive that month by rolling up his sleeves and serving coffee at the Java House.

Space program notes solar storm, somber send-off

Don Gurnett poses in front of model of spacecraft
Don Gurnett, the Roy J. Carver/James Van Allen Professor of Physics, used NASA’s Cassini spacecraft to record a solar flare and said good-bye to an old friend. Photo by Tim Schoon.

Don Gurnett, the professor of physics and astronomy who has collected sounds from space over the past 40 years, captured the sound of one of the largest solar flares in decades. The radio wave burst, resembling the clicking of an old-fashioned telegraph machine followed by the rush of a jet engine, was recorded Oct. 28 by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. (The sound can be heard online at

On a side note, The University’s long relationship with NASA’s Galileo came to an end on Sept. 21, when the spacecraft was intentionally disintegrated in Jupiter’s atmosphere due to a nearly depleted supply of onboard propellant. Over its 14-year odyssey, in which it traveled 2.8 billion miles, Galileo provided valuable information about Jupiter and its moons to researchers across the nation, including Gurnett and several others at Iowa.

by Sara Epstein Moninger


Published by University Relations Publications. Copyright the University of Iowa 2003. All rights reserved.


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