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During his presentation this week to University of Iowa staff, Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter said parents who took campus tours of all three state universities didn't feel as welcomed during their UI visit.
'As an Iowa grad, I'm bothered and disappointed by that,” he said. 'The campus tour needs to be more welcoming.”
When asked whether that parent feedback was based on formal polls or parent surveys, Board of Regents spokeswoman Sheila Doyle Koppin said those comments were based on Rastetter's interactions with parents.
'This reflects what President Rastetter consistently hears when he travels across the state,” Doyle Koppin said.
A group of UI alumni and former campus tour leaders spoke out Friday against Rastetter's characterization of the campus as unwelcoming.
Matt Hauge, 28, of Des Moines, said he is an Iowa native who was recruited by all three universities - and thus visited all three universities. Hauge said he found the UI to be the best fit for him.
'I agree that campuses should be welcoming, but I felt that Iowa was,” Hauge said. 'His comments don't reflect my experience.”
As a campus tour guide, Hauge said, he frequently received positive feedback from families he hosted.
'I felt we were competitive in that regard,” he said.
Kelli Russell, 27, of Des Moines, said that when she was working as a UI tour guide from 2007 to 2010, she was told to not necessarily 'push” the UI on anyone.
'Because it's not right for everyone,” she said. 'You're not trying to convince them it's the best school for them, but just answer questions and paint an accurate picture of what the student life is like.”
After reading Rastetter's comments this week, Russell said, she was 'taken aback.”
'I don't want to say I took it personally,” she said. 'But I felt it was a poorly researched statement because it's such a personal thing. If you don't like the campus, you don't like the campus, but it's not fair to pin that on a college student tour guide.”
- Vanessa Miller, The Gazette