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University of Iowa News Release

July 27, 2006

UI Establishes New Minority Student Orientation, Retention Program

A new retention program at the University of Iowa, will help first-year students of color and first-generation college students adjust to life at a large university. The Iowa Edge is aimed at building community among African-American, Asian-American, Native American, Latino and first-generation college students.

The program is a collaboration of separate retention programs that have been offered by several colleges and departments for first-year minority students. The new program will bring in 45 students for a week of events from August 14-18, just before the university's Welcome Week events begin for all students August 19. The Iowa Edge includes programs on academic expectations, campus resources, diversity, leadership, personal finance and building relationships. Speakers include Interim UI President Gary Fethke and Iowa City Mayor Ross Wilburn.

Todd Parks, assistant director of the Undergraduate Program Office in the Tippie College of Business and co-chair of The Iowa Edge planning committee, said, "The UI created The Iowa Edge to meet the needs of incoming students after conducting focus groups, reviewing best practices in student retention, and consulting colleagues at other institutions."

Jodi Linley, assistant director of the Iowa Biosciences Advantage program and co-chair of The Iowa Edge planning committee, said the primary goal of the program is to keep students at the University of Iowa.

"Several studies have shown that college students who do not feel like they've become part of a community within the first six weeks of their arrival on campus are at significantly greater risk of dropping out," she said.

According to Irv Burnett, multicultural coordinator of Opportunity at Iowa, The Iowa Edge is more than an orientation activity.

"Students will continue to participate in regularly scheduled programs and activities throughout the academic year," he said.

The program will help maintain that sense of community, said Carlos Serrato, assistant director in the Office of Student Life.

"We can continue to help them, and they can help each other during their time at the University of Iowa," he said.

Parks hopes the university will stay committed to The Iowa Edge to make long-term improvements in the retention of underrepresented students and their perception of the university. "Next year we plan to include transfer students in The Iowa Edge," Parks said. "We will continue to seek ways to improve the delivery and content of the program."

Helping to coordinate The Iowa Edge are staff and faculty from Iowa Biosciences Advantage, Henry B. Tippie College of Business, Opportunity at Iowa, Women in Science & Engineering, College of Engineering, Support Service Programs, New Dimensions in Learning, Student Disability Services, Academic Advising Center, Office of Student Life, University Housing, Admissions and Orientation Services.

For more information about The Iowa Edge, see:

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010,