I never thought I would have to be disappointed in my alma mater. Typically people brag about where they came from, from where they received their education. Not me, not anymore.
Effective June 30, 2012 The University of Northern Iowa will be closing the doors to its 120 year old museum. This is truly a disappointment you can read about at this site. The university is administering budget cuts to the museum, printing services, and athletics. Athletics looks to receive a slash of $500,000 and the $200,000 cut to the museums will close their doors permanently. Hmmm… with those amounts you can certainly see where the school lay its priorities in the first place.
Thousands upon thousands of people use the museum for educational purposes each year. Not only that, students who research and intern at the museum have lost this opportunity. The school is taking this wonderful resource away from its students, its classes and its community. The museum is an accredited institution and recognized for its value and excellence by the American Association of Museums. This small museum has pulled in exhibitions of amazing magnitude from places like The Smithsonian Institution and The Field Museum. But folks, don’t be sad… you can still go watch us loose a game every once in a while.
I interned with the museum for two years while at UNI, as with many other students, and it has been an invaluable resource in my career. That museum led me to where I am today; receiving my Master of Arts in Museum Professions. Maybe some people don’t get it. See below the mission statements of these three entities.
Excerpt from The University of Northern Iowa’s mission statement:
It is imperative that the quality of the university’s instruction be maintained and enhanced though increasingly strong emphasis on:
(1) General or liberal education as the most essential ingredient for the undergraduate student,
(2) the central importance and complementary relationship of teaching and research,
(3) enrichment of instruction through extensive clinical, laboratory and field experiences, and independent study, and
(4) development of the life of the university community itself as an effective educational force.
Excerpt from the University of Northern Iowa Museums’ mission statement:
The University of Northern Iowa Museums & Collections contribute to the education, research, and public service missions of the University through educational programming, exhibition, collection, and preservation.
For the campus and general public, the Museums foster lifelong learning and the exchange of ideas, as well as a respect for our natural resources and the human heritage of the world.
Lastly, an excerpt from The University of Northern Iowa Athletics mission statement:
We will offer compelling experience for the student-athlete and for our campus community and will provide a diverse environment steeped in integrity, values and vitality. We are committed to equitable opportunities for all students, student-athletes and athletic department staff including women and minorities. Our programming offerings, our recruitment of both students and staff, and our career enhancement opportunities for staff will reflect this commitment to equity and diversity. Further, we are totally committed to the NCAA principles of sportsmanship and ethical conduct and nothing short of complete and total adherence to the principles and guidelines subscribed to by the NCAA in these critical areas will be tolerated or accepted.
Teaching is our core, positive growth and development of student-athletes is our goal and the highest level of performance both in the classroom, in social settings, and on the field of play is our target outcome.
Whose mission statements most closely align? Sports are even MENTIONED in the mission of the university. Where should cuts really be being made? You mean to tell me that UNI will FUND 15 university sports team, but it won’t fund a 120 year old educational institution that benefits both its students and community? The athletics’ mission states teaching is their core, but what do you learn from throwing a ball in a hoop? What do other students learn from watching you do that? Leave it to an EDUCATIONAL ENTITY to cut funding to another educational entity in order to save one based on ENTERTAINMENT. Don’t assume I was a museum geek in school and that’s why I’m bitter about athletics. That’s not the case, I played sports in college and I loved every minute of it. BUT, it DID NOT contribute to my future. I couldn’t help but laugh at this quote in an article I read about the athletic department’s cuts:
“This time, much of the pain is going to be internal. We might have to hold off on new uniforms and equipment. We might have to eliminate some positions, though not coaching in year one.” as stated by athletic director Troy Dannen.
FOR SHAME! How DARE the University reduce your budget to $3.5 million so you can’t get new uniforms every year. How DARE you not have the latest in basketballer trend.
But, there is one thing Dannen was right about, the pain for UNI is going to be internal. That pain will be felt by every student, every faculty, staff and community member who rely on the museum as an educational tool.
I am truly disappointed in UNI and how it has decided upon its priorities. Athletics as a priority over education has always been in issue in America, I just never thought that poor decision would be made by someplace I was once so proud as to call my home.