Univ. of Northern Iowa President Mark Nook visits Muscatine

Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlberthttps://discovermuscatine.com
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

MUSCATINE, Iowa–Oct. 12, University of Northern Iowa President Mark Nook visited Senator Mark Lofgren at the Black Pearl Café in Muscatine. The pair discussed a variety of new initiatives underway at the University of Northern Iowa that can benefit Muscatine residents in several ways.

Recently, the University of Northern Iowa launched their [email protected] partnership to make several of their majors available to community college students across the state. Through this program, students who have earned an associate’s degree and would like to earn a bachelor’s degree to further their learning and career prospects but lack the ability to attend the University of Northern Iowa in person because of work and family obligations can still do so. “It’s really designed for students who are place-bound,” Nook explained.

Through the program, students can take classes completely online in a number of degree areas, from liberal studies, to business, to education, to technology and beyond. To make the program affordable, the University of Northern Iowa uses money given to them by the state from their American Rescue Plan Act funds to keep the cost of the college classes on par with the cost of community college classes. As an added resource for students, the University of Northern Iowa has started sending students support specialists to several of the community colleges and hopes to expand it to all of them, allowing students to get expert advice on study skills, financial aid, and any other topic they have questions about.

Senator Mark Lofgren with University of Northern Iowa President Mark Nook at the Black Pearl Café in Muscatine. Photo by Margaret Hurlbert.

Nook and Lofgren also discussed the University of Northern Iowa’s manufacturing programs, which help students and small businesses alike learn about some of the most innovative robotic and automation technologies available. By incorporating these components where practical in the manufacturing process, Nook has found that rather than loosing employees, businesses can automate tedious tasks and reassign or retrain employees to do more specialized work, growing and strengthening their companies.

As the University of Northern Iowa starts raising funds for renovating the UNI-Dome, Nook shared some of the goals for that project as well. At almost 50-years-old, the UNI-Dome serves not only the football needs of the University of Northern Iowa, but also as the home of the Iowa high school football state tournament, the host site for a large annual robotics competition, and numerous other events. To upgrade the stadium for both UNI students and people from across Iowa, including Muscatine County students who may travel there for sports and other activities, the university plans to install new sound and heating and cooling equipment, remodel the bathrooms, replace bleachers with more comfortable stadium seats, update the boxes and suites, and make the whole stadium more accessible with wider isles, more hand rails, and an easier to navigate entrance. “It’s about making it a truly enjoyable place for Iowans to come to a sporting event or the robotics tournament or an outdoor event because it’s not just for sports,” Nook elaborated.”

Nook and Lofgren enjoyed their time together, and look forward to discussing other areas for growth in the future. Lofgren particularly expressed interest in finding ways to make student teaching into a paid internship for students, helping them defray their living expenses during an important step of their development as young professionals.

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