Statement from the Provost Concerning MFA Theses
In recent days a number of people have been upset about what they believed was a plan by our library to publish the creative thesis work of students in our writing programs on the internet without their permission. Let me say as simply and clearly as I can, there is no such plan nor will there be. I regret sincerely that we did not convey this message when students and faculty first voiced their concerns.
For some time now our library, like most major academic research libraries, has been exploring ways to make its collections more accessible by digitizing some materials. As part of that process, there has been discussion about the possibility of making graduate student dissertations and theses available in electronic format. But any such process must be preceded by developing policies and procedures that allow authors to decide whether and when to allow distribution.
On Monday, March 17, I will begin pulling together a working group with representatives from the Graduate College, University Libraries, our several writing programs, and all other constituencies who wish to be part of the process. Under the leadership of Carl Seashore in 1922, Iowa became the first university in the United States to award MFA degrees based on creative projects. Although this has been a rocky start, I like to think that Iowa will again lead the way by developing policies and procedures that safeguard intellectual property rights while preserving materials for the use of scholars in generations to come.