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Release: April 3, 2002

Award honors Sen. Tom Harkin for public health leadership

U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) has been selected by the University of Iowa College of Public Health to receive the first-ever Richard and Barbara Hansen Leadership Award and Distinguished Lectureship.

The award is given by the UI College of Public Health to honor individuals who have made sustained contributions in the health field. The award recognizes exemplary leadership, integrity and ethical standards, and an enduring commitment to improving health care on a national and international level.

"Sen. Harkin has been a steadfast supporter of public health throughout his career in elected office," said James A. Merchant, M.D., Dr.P.H, dean of the College of Public Health. "His work to improve rural residents' access to and quality of health care, emphasis on women's health issues, strong support for preventive and biomedical research, and commitment to protecting the rights of disabled Americans have benefited not only the residents of Iowa, but people throughout the United States, as well."

Harkin is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. This committee funds both the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, key federal agencies that support prevention and public health training, research and outreach. Harkin also chairs the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee.

The formal announcement of the award will be made at a statewide public health policy conference on April 8 in Iowa City. Harkin will deliver an address at the conference, "New Models for a New Reality: Improving Iowa's Preparedness Capacity," via videotape. Harkin also has been invited to deliver the Hansen Lecture and meet with faculty and students from the College of Public Health in a future visit to Iowa City. Details of the visit will be announced when the senator's schedule is confirmed.

The Hansen Leadership Award and Distinguished Lectureship is made possible by a gift from Richard and Barbara Hansen of Iowa City. The Hansen's gift, made in 2000, was the first contribution in the College of Public Health's Founding Partners initiative. Through this initiative, the college invites individuals, families and organizations who share its vision of developing a comprehensive public health resource for Iowa to help build a solid foundation for public health education, research, policy analysis and community service at the UI.

The UI College of Public Health was founded in 1999 -- the first new college established at the University in 50 years -- and is the only accredited school of public health in Iowa.