On Feb. 1, 2017, Mark Nook began serving as the University of Northern Iowa’s 11th president.
Among his many goals and initiatives is reversing the decline in student enrollment at UNI. UNI’s peak enrollment was 14,070 in the fall of 2001. Last fall, there were 11,212 students enrolled.
Nook has said his target is to reach 13,500 students by the fall of 2023.That includes increasing the university’s share of recent high school graduates from across the state.
“We’re going to take and enroll as many Iowa kids as we can,” said Nook in a Courier story last fall.
What drives you?
I love the university environment. It is a unique place where people learn from each other and explore and test new ideas across a wide spectrum of topics. At UNI the faculty and staff are extremely committed to helping our students become knowledgeable and thoughtful people, who become valued employees and engaged members of their community, state and country.
What was your biggest accomplishment in 2018?
The biggest accomplishment was probably our work with the Regents and legislature to attain our full funding request during the 2018 legislative session. That helped us better serve UNI students and their families, our employees and the businesses and industries in Iowa.
What are your goals for 2019?
My primary goal is to make sure that UNI has the resources (human, financial and physical facilities) to be able to educate our students, support our faculty and staff and enrich the economic, social and cultural life of our region and state.
Specifically this year that means:
- Attaining sufficient state funding to be able to keep our tuition reasonable for Iowa students and families.
- Putting programs, processes and systems in place to assure a healthy long-term enrollment for the university.
- Improving diversity on campus and working to make sure all students and employees have an equitable opportunity to be successful in reaching their educational, professional and personal-life goals.
- Growing the Purple Circle, i.e. increasing the reputation of UNI in Iowa and beyond.
- Improving the economic, social and cultural vibrancy of the Cedar Valley and Iowa.
- Spending quality time with my family, especially our grandchildren.
What makes the Cedar Valley a great place for business/education?
The people. The people of the Cedar Valley have a kindness that goes beyond being nice. It is deeper, more genuine and more caring. The people here also value hard work and determination, and they truly value education because they know it is the only way to secure the future of our region and country. They built an economy that is diverse and not dependent on a single economic sector. They created a high quality of life that is apparent in the miles of trails and recreational opportunities, strong and diverse arts and culture scene, and an extremely robust and diverse educational structure that includes strong public and private pre-K – 12 schools, a great community college, a strong private liberal arts college, and of course the best public university in the nation.
What’s a lesson you’ve learned in your career journey?
I am extremely thankful for the mentors I’ve had throughout my career. I know I wouldn’t be where I am without them and the wisdom they shared. They paid it forward by sharing their professional knowledge. Through them I learned a great deal about how to be a professional in higher education, but more significantly, I learned the importance of paying it forward, helping the next generation be ready to take on the challenges they will face. We have a responsibility to not only leave the world in a better place than we found it, but to also make sure that the next generation has the ability to make it better for the generation that follows them.