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Kathy Franken stands at a podium and addresses the audience gathered on her inauguration day.

FAYETTE, Iowa (May 3, 2024) – Students, alumni, faculty, staff, community members, and guests filled Dorman Gymnasium on Friday, May 3, for the formal inauguration and investiture of Kathy Franken as the university’s 22nd President.

The Board of Trustees at Upper Iowa University named Franken, ’12 M.H.E.A., as the interim President in May of 2023 and appointed her as the first woman president in October 2023. Franken led Upper Iowa through a process of reimagining UIU’s academic offerings, athletic offerings, and geographic locations. She also provided direction on the “Reimagine UIU” strategic plan, restructuring University leadership positions and efforts to reduce expenses. Franken’s tenure at UIU started in the Waterloo Center in 2008, beginning as an academic advisor to adult learners before assuming the Waterloo Center director position. Before serving as interim president, Franken was vice president for Finance and Enrollment Management, overseeing University finances, Business Office Services, Facilities Management, Information Technology, Enrollment Management and Services, and Auxiliary Services.

Board Chair Scott Lebin said, “The Board of Trustees wanted someone with the capacity of a CFO who could allocate assets to be a team maker and lead diverse groups and promote transparency of communications across the university. UIU needed an individual dedicated to sustaining and growing the university through academic opportunities and partnerships to help students navigate through the best UIU learning modalities for them.” He went on to mention, “Kathy was chosen because of the wealth of experience, expertise, and an in-depth understanding of UIU’s mission, vision, core values, and culture. The Board of Trustees is proud to have someone within the organization who meets the required criteria. She has shown professional leadership, collaboration, and implementation skills. We are so proud of the support she has from members of the UIU family.”

Franken received her symbols of office from UIU Board Chair Scott Lebin and UIU Faculty Chair, Dr. Matt Foy. During the investiture ceremony, attendees heard collected thoughts from the new president, as well as from representatives of students, alumni, the community, and faculty about the vision of the future for UIU and the continued work to be done by the UIU president.

During her inauguration, Franken and others frequently spoke about the Reimagining of Upper Iowa, with a continued focus on commitment, collaboration, and innovation. “UIU has long provided students with the knowledge and skill necessary for success, but now is the time to look beyond the status quo and boldly embrace progress,” Franken said. “We must continue to rethink the foundations of how we teach and learn, utilizing the technology and pedagogy to create environments where students thrive. Students today do not want to be passive recipients of knowledge, but rather they seek to be active learners in their education.”

Franken continued by speaking specifically about the importance of collaboration. “As we look forward to the future at Upper Iowa University, it is the collaboration between the faculty, staff, and administration that will continue to be the foundation of our institution. This collaboration will fuel our ability to achieve shared goals, in turn allowing us to fulfill our mission and provide the best service to our students. Only by working together, recognizing each of our strengths and expertise, will our university thrive.”

The formal ceremony was followed by an Inauguration Lunch held in the Student Center Ballrooms. A Preinaugural Open House was also held leading up to the celebration, where students, faculty, staff, and community members had an opportunity to meet President Franken before Friday’s event.

Founded in 1857, Upper Iowa University is a private, nonprofit institution dedicated to offering undergraduate and graduate degree programs to approximately 5,700 students both nationally and internationally. Located in Fayette, Iowa, the university extends its reach beyond its main campus to educational centers across the U.S., demonstrating its role as a recognized innovator in providing accredited, affordable, and quality academic programs. Upper Iowa University prides itself on its flexible, multiple delivery systems, which include online and self-paced degree options, catering to the varied needs of its student body.

With a focus on developing leaders and lifelong learners, Upper Iowa University is committed to empowering students by providing an inclusive, supportive learning environment. Here, diverse perspectives are valued, and academic excellence is not just a goal but a standard. This approach ensures that graduates are well-equipped to contribute meaningfully to their communities and professions.