In a state famed for education and a city renowned for arts, literature and quality of life, I am grateful to live in Iowa City and to serve the University of Iowa. In many ways, our mission at this university is enriched and strengthened by a deep and broad partnership with another dynamic learning institution—Kirkwood Community College.
All of eastern Iowa benefits from the many services Kirkwood provides to thousands of people every day. Their continuing education classes engage people at nearly every point in life, from the joy of cooking and health-enriching fitness classes, to the practicalities of workplace skills and home repair.
Kirkwood has been a vital part of area economic development work, too. Many of our biggest employers couldn’t grow or would not have located here without the integral support of Kirkwood’s workplace training services.
The profound influence closest to my heart is Kirkwood’s many contributions to student opportunity and development here in Iowa City. Their Iowa City campus on Lower Muscatine Road has been helpful to hundreds of our UI students each year as they pick up certain Kirkwood classes to complement their university coursework.
Many Kirkwood students get a preview of UI life through our practical 2 + 2 program. This allows Kirkwood students who plan to continue at Iowa to take all the courses needed for a seamless transfer into junior-level courses at the university.
Kirkwood has the largest number of students participating in this mutually beneficial program with Iowa community colleges. UI staff visit the Kirkwood campus about 20 times a year, giving personal guidance for students planning to transfer. Our university admissions staff tells me that well over a thousand students come to the UI every year with Kirkwood classes on their transcripts, more than any other two-year college in Iowa or elsewhere.
These cooperative years of Kirkwood/UI partnership could soon reach a whole new level, as discussions proceed on an innovative new education partnership project with many benefits for our wider area. Kirkwood has pioneered a multiple-use facility program called the regional center.
Their first regional center, located in Monticello, has allowed more than 240 high school students a year to take challenging, college-rigorous courses and explore many career choices from within a central, cost-effective building. The Jones Regional Education Center has state of the art automotive, industrial and computer labs available day and night, providing quality learning support for eight school districts in five counties. This is a boon for the communities and allows students from small towns to get solid career and college prep education.
We are excited to consider another regional education center project in a convenient and cost-effective plan. Kirkwood, the Iowa City School District and UI officials have been exploring a multiple-use facility to be located on the university’s research park that will engage students from high schools within a 25-mile radius.
These high schools can pool resources with Kirkwood and the university to support career academies, dual-credit coursework and lifelong learning programs—all in a practical, flexible facility. Key courses will include higher-level science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) instruction. These STEM classes are crucial to our state’s success and keeping our students competitive.
We believe this proposed facility will be the first time in the United States that a community college has built a multiple-use center on a university campus. This should be a model that can be replicated across the state and become part of the future of Iowa’s integrated education system.
This regional center approach crystallizes the can-do spirit of Kirkwood, and I am pleased to partner with President Mick Starcevich and his team as we all search for cost-effective answers to the learning needs of the citizens of east central Iowa.
In so many ways, Kirkwood has woven aid and benefit into every part of our community. They are exemplary partners, worthy of our constant encouragement and support!