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UI Presidential Portrait Gallery: Explorations

Race, Diversity, and Privilege in Higher Education

Explore Representation in Higher Education

When going through the UI Presidential Portrait Gallery, it is easy to see that there has been a lack of racial and gender diversity in presidential leadership throughout most of the history of the institution. How do we explain this situation? What types of changes would need to take place to stop perpetuating this imbalance? 


1) Explore the database ERIC (education articles), by using a variety of search terms that explore this issue. For example: 

ERIC Search diversity

2) Take a look at one or more of the readings selected below and discuss with your professors, classmates, roommates, family, and friends. 

Explore the Daily Iowan

Explore the news from the University of Iowa through The Daily Iowan

Dating back to 1868 the Daily Iowan archive provides access to digitized versions of The Daily Iowan and its predecessors: the University Reporter (1868-81), the Vidette (1879-81), the Vidette-Reporter (1881-1901) and the University Mirror (1881).  The newspaper editions are full text searchable.  New issues are regularly added to the site. 

The search is not terribly robust, but you can type a past president's name and look through the dates to see when the articles were written. When you open up a link, use <CTRL> F to open up a way to find terms on the page more easily. 

Some ideas to explore: 

  • How did the past presidents interact on campus? 
  • What major events were taking place during the term of their presidency?
  • What was the legacy of a past president? What does it signify to have a building named after you?
  • How did students challenge, support, or otherwise engage with past presidents? 

President Hancher with students 1942

Picture taken from The Daily Iowan, Tuesday, December 8, 1942

Presidents' Footprint on Campus

Explore the campus by identifying the legacies

Map of the University of Iowa

Going about your life around campus, has it occurred to you just how many of the buildings are named after people? The University of Iowa's past presidents are well-represented around our campus footprint in Iowa City. Take a moment to consider the following: 

  • What type of impact or presence garners recognition in the form of having a building named after a person? 
  • Who has and who hasn't been recognized? Why do you think that is? 
  • As the campus develops and changes, what names might you expect to see on buildings in the future? 

UI Map

Down through the Decades

Explore the contemporaneous events in the lives of past presidents

America: History and Life Database

To add context to your understanding of the University's past presidents, it may be helpful to explore some of the contemporaneous events that were shaping the world. Explore past events and follow your curiosity by using the library database called America: History and Life. 

Start by following these directions: 

Open America: History and Life then click on the CLIO Notes in the top menu bar: 

clio notes in America History and Life

Then select the era that interests you or that corresponds to a particular past president. (Be sure to choose Next at the bottom to get the most recent dates.)

List of eras

Then pick a topic and explore the events and chronology: 

Events and chronology

Now, explore anything you want to know more about by searching the database for your own topics of interest.