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UNI President Mark Nook On COVID-19 And How Iowans Prepare For Afghan Refugees

River to River, hosted by Ben Kieffer

The University of Northern Iowa President on the challenges of starting a new school year while COVID-19 infections are on the rise. Then how two Des Moines non-profit organizations prepare for Afghan refugees inbound for Iowa.

Students at Iowa’s three largest public universities returned to classes this week coinciding with the continued rise of COVID-19 infections.

On this episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer speaks to University of Northern Iowa President Mark Nook about the challenges his campus faces as it wades into fall semester. Nook also answers questions from IPR listeners.

Later on, news broke of yesterday's explosions outside the Kabul Airport. There, U.S. forces evacuate tens of thousands of American citizens and Afghans. The humanitarian crisis is only becoming more dire.

To the backdrop, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds says Iowa welcomes refugees from Afghanistan who want to resettle in the state. Kieffer speaks with two women who are currently very busy with preparation for the expected influx of Afghan refugees to Iowa.


  • Mark Nook, president of the University of Northern Iowa
  • Leslie Olson, supervisor of the, U.S. Committee For Refugees and Immigrants, Des Moines office
  • Kelyn Anker, Refugee Services Program Manager for Catholic Charities in Des Moines
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Rick Brewer was a producer for IPR's Talk of Iowa and River to River