Former student body president establishes Maas Student Leadership Award

Former student body president establishes Maas Student Leadership Award

Growing up on a small family farm, Jim Maas, ’77, says his University of Northern Iowa education amounted to an “intellectual awakening.”

During his time at UNI, the purpose-driven young man from the Cedar Rapids area would become increasingly involved in the intersection of public policy and making a real difference in people’s lives. As a sophomore, he would be elected president of the UNI student body.

“I’ve always believed in making the world a better place,” Maas said. That philosophy courses through Maas’s 38-year career in the federal government including stints in the Bureau of the Census for the 1980 Census, the Department of Energy during the nation’s energy crisis, the Environmental Protection Agency during the Superfund cleanup and Brownfields redevelopment program creations, and at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget dealing with a paradigm shift in the government’s information technology strategy.

“Everything I learned in student government – how to build coalitions, how to understand and implement policy – I used those same skills in my government roles,” Maas said.

As a UNI student, Maas valued his education but was unsure how he would pay for it. He credits scholarships and a modest stipend for the student body president with filling the gap and helping him graduate with a degree in sociology.

Jim Maas signing a paper

Now retired and living in the Washington, D.C. area, Maas worked with the UNI Foundation to establish the James L. Maas Student Leadership Award, which will provide a scholarship for student leaders making a difference on campus and in the community.

“Leadership is ubiquitous,” Maas said. “It is a part of every aspect of your life. I want those who may not have the financial means to have the opportunity to be involved in student government or other leadership positions that connect them with their broader community.”