CEDAR FALLS, Iowa --- While University of Northern Iowa President William Ruud is looking forward to UNI's future, Ruud said he's also willing to review and potentially revive cut programs, "whether it's K-12 laboratory education or the baseball team."
"I've always advocated that you put the old idea against the new idea," Ruud said. "Whatever idea wins, you go with. But you always put the loser in the bottom drawer."
During a meeting with the Courier editorial board this past week, Ruud discussed his plans for UNI, including enrollment strategies, communicating with the Iowa Legislature, interacting with students and comparing past and present ideas.
To address decreasing enrollment at the university, Ruud wants to hold six open houses during the school year, as well as extensively reach out to students within and outside of the state.
He also wants to reach out to urban towns and emphasize UNI's suburban environment.
"If you can get them to the campus of the University of Northern Iowa, get them to the Cedar Falls-Waterloo community, there's a high opportunity for them to stick around, because then you start talking about Deere, the medical community, you start talking about living here," Ruud said.
Ruud also is reaching out to faculty, students and community members to address tense relationships on campus by encouraging open communication. So far, Ruud said everyone he has met with has been receptive to speaking with him.
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"I think there's a great willingness to look forward, to await the decision of AAUP (American Association of University Professors) so that whatever that is, we can deal with it," Ruud said, referring to that organization's probe into the process and cirucumstances under which UNI cut a number of academic programs and closed Malcolm Price Laboratory school. "So my strategy and my success at where I've been before is be open, honest, up front, communicate and let people do their jobs. The worst thing a president can do is tell somebody, 'Here is how I would do your job.'"
Ruud is thankful for the $10 million appropriation from the Iowa legislature for the upcoming school year, but said he'll work on making the one-time appropriation into permanent base money. Additionally, Ruud is looking forward to working on the new Iowa Board of Regents task force, which examines the funding model for the public universities.
"I think it's critical in terms of building the right allocation model for Iowa, but not just UNI." Ruud said. "Although we selfishly would like to be all about us, it's not. It's about the state of Iowa, it's about the citizens of Iowa."
And while the Legislature provided money to UNI, Ruud said students are the most important thing keeping UNI sustainable and that students should come first. He has considering creating a Facebook or blog to interact with students, and he hopes to greet students during orientation and hold residence hall events to hear about issues.
"It's hard to get the story from the people if you're not there talking to the people," Ruud said. "You can't just say, 'I'll call them on my cell phone, he'll tell me.' You get the reaction, you get the gut feeling, you get nothing better than being there."
Looking at UNI, Ruud is interested in intermingling the past and the present.
"Maybe there's a new 21st-century way of approaching something that we use to do," Ruud said. "Kind of something that looks like what we used to do, but it's a new way of doing it.