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Release: June 11, 1999

The following is a statement from Mary Sue Coleman, University of Iowa president, regarding the International Writing Program:

As public discussion of the future of our International Writing Program continues, I want to remind our whole community of the larger context in which this discussion should take place: that is, the overarching framework of our core values and institutional goals and processes.

Issues relating to the decision to modify the International Writing Program for 1999-2000, pending further review, are both substantive and procedural. I regret the acrimony generated by the procedural abruptness but this must not be allowed to spill over into the debate on substantivematters.

I am convinced that the procedure which has been put in place for the further review of the program will alleviate many of the procedural concerns, so that we may turn our full attention to issues of substance. Provost Whitmore and Dean Maxson recognize that the program review must be

thoughtful, thorough, and considerate of the variety of opinions within the university community. It is my understanding that the committee will hold one or more public fora at which all points of view can be fully and openly considered.

Our obligation to be good stewards of our limited fiscal resources often means that we must make difficult choices among competing needs. I am aware that there are strongly-held views, some of which now appear irreconcilable, on the merits and future direction of the IWP. The review committee will seek an imaginative and fiscally responsible solution that both honors our heritage as a center of international writing and brings visiting writers into closer association with our degree-granting programs. In the end, it may not be possible to arrive at an arrangement that satisfies everyone. Nevertheless, I call upon the university community to do its best to conduct the discussion in an open process that respects our core values. Let us keep in mind that the University of Iowa "vigilantly protects free expression of thought, respects difference and diversity, and fosters opportunities for all members of the community to generate and discuss ideas and contribute to the vitality of the educational environment," and that it offers "a supportive and humane environment in which people from a wide variety of backgrounds and traditions may encounter each other in a spirit of cooperation, openness, and mutual respect."

I hope any of you who have ideas concerning how we might best facilitate a discussion in that spirit will feel free to share them with me, Provost Whitmore, or Dean Maxson.