About the University of Iowa

The University of Iowa Old Capital

The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa is one of the nation’s premier public research universities, dedicated to academic excellence, groundbreaking discoveries and creations, commitment to the state and the world, and a culture that prizes community, diversity, and opportunity.

A reputation for excellence
Iowa is known around the world for its commitment to excellence in the arts, sciences, and humanities. It is home to the first and best creative writing program in the world, as well as one of America’s top teaching hospitals. Its faculty, staff, and students have pioneered fields such as educational testing and speech pathology, sent UI-built instruments on virtually every mission in NASA history, and traced the genetic origins of countless human diseases. Its 12 colleges are home to scholars dedicated to bridging disciplines and reinventing higher education.  

Iowa’s collaborative, can-do culture fosters a campuswide dedication to student success. Welcoming students from all backgrounds, helping them chart paths that serve their individual interests and goals, and giving them tools to graduate on time and on budget are central to Iowa’s mission. The Iowa approach works: Undergraduate graduation rates well exceed the national average.

Iowa students graduate with the skills, perspectives, and values they need to lead productive lives and have rewarding careers. The university’s strong liberal arts tradition prizes exploration, flexibility, and broad-based knowledge while innovative teaching facilities and methods infuse timeless lessons with new energy. Today’s graduates are tech savvy and team oriented. 

Iowa’s size, structure, and culture foster interaction among scholars at all levels, with advanced programs surrounding and shaping a vital liberal arts core. Strong graduate and professional programs enrich the undergraduate experience while providing unparalleled opportunities for student who want to take their education further. 

Alongside education and discovery, Iowa is known for its NCAA Division I athletics programs, a world-class academic medical center, commitment to statewide service, and its role as an economic engine for the state of Iowa. The university has launched new programs that lend support and expertise to businesses across the state, and a pervasive spirit of entrepreneurship guides student start-ups, new enterprises built on faculty discoveries, and other innovations.

A proud history
When the University of Iowa was founded on Feb. 25, 1847, it was Iowa’s first public university, and it was located in the state’s first capital. When Des Moines became the seat of state government in 1857, Iowa City’s Old Capitol building became the geographic and symbolic heart of the university campus.

Iowa has been a member of the Big Ten Conference since 1899 and a member of the Association of American Universities since 1909.

From its founding, Iowa has been a beacon of equality and opportunity for all people. It was the nation’s first public university to admit men and women on an equal basis, the first public institution to award law degrees to women and African Americans, and the first state university to recognize a campus organization for gay students.

Iowa invented the Master of Fine Arts degree, becoming the first institution to accept creative work in lieu of a written thesis. It has pioneered fields ranging from educational television to cochlear implants.

In more recent years, the university has faced and overcome historic challenges—from a devasting campus flood in 2008 to the global economic downturn to the unpredictable impact of new technologies. Community spirit, pragmatic vision, and dedicated leadership have helped Iowa weather these crises. Today, the University of Iowa is stronger than ever and is poised to write a new chapter in its more than 170-year history.

Mission and Core Values
The university’s 2016–2021 Strategic Plan highlights these priorities:

In pursuing its missions of teaching, research, and service, the university seeks to advance scholarly and creative endeavor through leading-edge research and artistic production; to use this research and creativity to enhance undergraduate, graduate, and professional education, health care, and other services provided to the people of Iowa, the nation, and the world; and to educate students for success and personal fulfillment in a diverse world.

The University of Iowa carries out its academic mission primarily through its 12 colleges, which offer undergraduate and graduate education, professional education, and education and training in the health sciences.

More about the Strategic Plan can be found at https://provost.uiowa.edu/strategic-plan-2016-2021

Core values
In planning, setting priorities, and carrying out every aspect of its mission, the University of Iowa is guided by seven interdependent commitments:

  • Excellence
  • Learning
  • Community
  • Diversity
  • Integrity
  • Respect
  • Responsibility