Nook recovers from surgery


NI Archives

President Mark Nook plans to return to his office Sept. 7 after a back surgery.

As the 2021-2022 school year approached and the freshman class began to settle into life at UNI, a familiar face around campus was noticeably absent.

Normally UNI President Mark Nook would make his presence known to the student body and welcome everyone back to campus personally, but a routine back surgery withheld him from being able to participate in welcome events, as well as the first day of classes. Administrators are ensuring that in Nook’s absence UNI is still successfully helping the campus community transition into the new school year.

Nook is still rehabilitating from his surgery, althoughsome students may have seen him and his wife Cheryl walking around campus which is part of his physical therapy.His full time recovery is six months, but he plans to be back in the office part time by Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021.

President Nook expressed his disappointment that he was unable to attend welcome events for new students, as he takes pride in the welcoming culture of UNI. Although being unable to participate in events has been hard on him, Nook did not fail to mention how Provost Jose Herrera stepped up to fill those big shoes. 

Because Herrera is new, the welcome address that Nook gives every year was different, but Nook wanted to give Herrera a chance to be heard. Nook noted that this was already a planned decision even before his surgery as he wanted to give a little more insight to the importance of a team behind the university. While Nook couldn’t be there in person, he recorded some of the things he had to say for his address.

Nook notes the leadership team has done a great job picking up the pieces in his absence, and although Nook’s surgery was a surprise, the leadership team didn’t fail to do their job. From the controversial decision made by the Iowa legislature banning masks on campus, to going from online to in person classes, there is a lot of change for this school year. New staff such as new interim vice president of student affairs David Grady and Provost Jose Herrera have also started their new positions this year in the midst of these changes. 

Despite obstacles and challenging times, Nook expressed it did not take much to execute administration’s goals at the beginning of this school year as UNI leadership helped with everything they had planned. 

As Nook mentions, being present is an important part of the UNI culture, and he wants every student to feel known on campus.

“We want them (the student) to get to know heir faculty and staff personally and that includes us,” Nook said. “The leadership team cannot be absent. We’ve got to be getting to know the students as individuals and let them get to know us.’’ 

Nook also noted how amazing it is to have students back on campus again and expressed that he understood the class of 2024 did not have the same opportunities. However, more events will be available this year including the community fair.  

Nook expressed that getting involved with the community is important to him and the campus referencing the developing land stewardship between UNI and the Meskwaki Tribe. 

In his advice for the incoming class he states, “This is a campus where faculty and staff, even the administrators and even the president, want to get to know you.” 

Nook also expressed how his leadership continues to inspire him, and the grit of his leadership team to step up to help the university is what truly motivates him. 

Nook notes it was inspirational to see how in the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic last year everyone stepped up and became flexible to make a difference and make UNI a safe and successful environment. 

Oftentimes students do not get a chance to see the behind the scenes action of the planning for the success of the university. President Nook made it very clear that though he is the face of this university, it is the people behind the scene who are also doing the heavy lifting. He also acknowledges the weight of the decisions he and leadership make and how they impact students. 

“I know I’m going to make a decision that’s going to impact the university for 40 years,” Nook said. 

In Nook’s absence please direct your questions to Provost Herrera or other leadership team members.