University of Northern Iowa Homepage Stories & News

Waterloo mayor and UNI alum Quentin Hart.

Waterloo mayor, a UNI alum, is building bridges

Elected five years ago as the first African-American mayor in Waterloo’s 147-year history, UNI graduate Quentin Hart has focused ever since on building bridges.

UNI AmeriCorps members install a residential garden.

New UNI program to install residential gardens, remove food barriers

A new University of Northern Iowa project will provide services to install vegetable and pollinator gardens free of charge to residents in the Cedar Valley as part of an ongoing effort to address issues of food insecurity.

The Backyard Steward Initiative is a new program from UNI’s Green Iowa AmeriCorps, based at the Center for Energy & Environmental Education, that kicked off with a training session on garden installation last week. 

University of Northern Iowa criminology professor Gayle Rhineberger-Dunn

UNI professor discusses the future of policing

The death of George Floyd reawakened demands for police reform across the country. From calls to defund police departments, to reexamining use-of-force policies, policing practices are once again falling under scrutiny. Here, University of Northern Iowa criminology professor Gayle Rhineberger-Dunn discusses these topics and the role UNI plays in preparing future criminal justice professionals.

What is your work at UNI focused on?

UNI alum Mara Warnke

UNI alum helps address food insecurity in the wake of COVID-19

Food banks across the country experienced a surge in demand when coronavirus first hit the US and that need hasn't let up. In the Cedar Valley, UNI alum Mara Warnke '18 is helping to make sure families stay fed throughout this uncertain time.

Warnke is pantry services manager for the Cedar Valley Food Pantry (CVFP) in Waterloo, a program of the Northeast Iowa Food Bank (NEIFB). After coming on as a part-time pantry services assistant in 2018, she moved into her role as manager in March — just as coronavirus was first starting to make its way to Iowa. 

A UNI student puts up a diversity mural in Waterloo.

UNI mural project highlights Cedar Valley's diversity

During this time of national discussion of racial inequality, UNI is uplifting underrepresented voices. The Diversity Is Our Strength project aims to challenge racism and stereotypes about the Cedar Valley in a visible way with a downtown Waterloo mural and accompanying website.

A Confederate monument

Demonstrators march, statues fall as US grapples with racist past

Anger over the death of George Floyd has led to a reappraisal of the history of racism and oppression in America. In recent weeks, demonstrators have toppled Confederate statues, Congressional leaders have proposed renaming military bases and NASCAR has banned Confederate flags from being displayed at events. We asked UNI associate history professor Thomas Connors, an expert on historical memory and monuments, to weigh in on the discussion. 

How do you feel the demonstrations happening now have reignited debates regarding Confederate displays? 

UNI Assistant Professor of Criminology Alison Cox

Protests, prisons and COVID-19: An interview with Alison Cox

Despite crime rates that have fallen for decades, the United States still imprisons far more of its population than any other country in the world. COVID-19 has forced Americans to take a closer look at our society — including the millions behind bars in jails and prisons where infections are hard to contain. While some county jails have released thousands of detainees to slow coronavirus’ spread, prisons have been reluctant to follow.

UNI alumna Jane Elliott

UNI alum Jane Elliott reflects on legacy of anti-racist work

Now 86 and living on a remote green patch of Northern Iowa countryside, famed anti-racist and University of Northern Iowa alumna Jane Elliott may seem an unlikely candidate for viral videos and social media clout. 

Gabby Rivera, Marvel’s first LGBTQ Latinx writer

‘I want to kick that door wide open’ An interview with Gabby Rivera

Marvel’s first Latinx writer is on a mission to spread joy and acceptance through her work. A campus visit this spring was rescheduled due to COVID-19, but in this interview with Inside UNI — shared now in honor of Pride Month — she shares her inspiring message and updates on her latest projects.

UNI Associate Professor of Literacy and Education Shuaib Meacham

‘A system of interconnected institutions’: Racial inequality in schools

UNI Associate Professor of Literacy and Education Shuaib Meacham helps teach future educators how to handle race in the classroom. He also leads a local hip hop literacy program to help connect youth to their love of language, and is helping launch a new project aimed at showcasing Iowa’s diversity. Here, he discusses his work and offers advice for using this unprecedented moment to create lasting change.

What are some examples of racial inequality in teaching and education?