Rob Dillard

Correspondent

Rob Dillard is a Des Moines based correspondent for Iowa Public Radio. He joined IPR in 2001 as host of Morning Edition and moved to reporting in 2007.  He has been on special assignment for IPR since early 2011 reporting the ongoing series “Being in Iowa.” It has taken him around the state shining light on small segments of the population, including Muslims, military veterans, Latinos and the physically disabled. The series has won awards from the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) and Northwest Broadcast News Association (NBNA).

Rob has extensive experience in radio, newspaper and media relations dating back more than 30 years. He has also taught news writing at Central College in Pella. Rob earned his bachelor’s degree in mass communications at the University of Iowa.

Rob’s favorite public radio program is Morning Edition.

Ways to Connect

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

The Transportation Security Administration and Des Moines Area Community College are expanding a training program that’s been in place since 2011. DMACC will now offer homeland security courses to TSA officers across much of the nation.

Drake Community Press

At a time when religious intolerance has sparked violence at mosques, synagogues, temples and churches nationwide, a project in Des Moines is embracing the diversity of faiths within Central Iowa. A photo-rich book is being released this week that illustrates various worship services in the area.

Freelance photographer Bob Blanchard had lived in Des Moines just two weeks when he read an op-ed column by a Drake University philosophy professor named Tim Knepper.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

A tight state budget may mean a delay in one of the Branstad administration’s top legislative priorities. The issue of school choice for Iowa parents may have to wait for a brighter budget forecast.

Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds says the establishment of an education savings fund to help families pay for private education may not happen this session.

Iowa State University news service

Iowa’s Board of Regents has made it official. Former UNI President Benjamin Allen will serve as interim president of Iowa State after Steven Leath leaves Ames for Auburn University in May.  

Allen is a familiar figure at Iowa State. He’s been a professor, department chair, dean, vice president of academic affairs and provost at the school. He’ll become interim president May 9th, the day after Leath leaves office. Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter says Allen will begin work three weeks before then.

Iowa Lt. Gov.'s office

The alliance of business leaders and educators assigned the job of developing strategies to prepare tomorrow’s workforce in Iowa is hearing from its co-chair, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds. She says the group is on track to meet its stated goals.

University of Northern Iowa's Center for Business Growth and Innovation

Economic development officials in the state are on the hunt for the next great idea. They are a launching a contest to find a new batch of innovative start-up companies.

The Center for Business Growth and Innovation at the University of Northern Iowa is behind the Great Idea Challenge. A senior program manager at the Center, Patrick Luensmann, says winners of the contest will be guided on how to build a strong, sustainable business.

“We really want to try and grow the pipeline for new, innovative companies to start and grow in Iowa,” he says.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

Educators in Iowa are saying an early warning system for struggling young readers is showing progress. Nearly 61 percent of the school districts using it are recording improvements in reading among students from kindergarten-through-third grade.

City of Cedar Rapids

A year-long survey of Iowa law-enforcement agencies indicates they have more than 4,200 untested sexual assault evidence kits in storage. Most of the shelved kits are the result of changes in the circumstances surrounding rape cases.

Creighton University

A monthly index of the mid-America economy is at its highest point in nearly three years. The survey of supply managers in nine states indicates solid hiring in the manufacturing sector.

The Mid-America Business Conditions Index compiled by Creighton University economist Ernie Goss stands at a strong 60.5 for February. This is well above the growth neutral mark of 50. Goss says the reading for Iowa is even healthier at 62.6.

Grand View University

Grand View University in Des Moines will be launching a new academic discipline in the fall. Students at the school will be able to major in game design.

Grand View administrators say students who pursue a bachelor’s degree in game design will be trained in such things as animation, video production and 3-D illustration. English professor Joshua Call describes himself as a lifetime gamer. He says he finds the intersection of story-telling with decision-making in gaming an important academic pursuit.

Greater Des Moines Partnership

A newly launched web site is aimed at breaking the myth that start-up companies in Iowa can’t raise capital. More than 40 entrepreneurs have already shared their success stories.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

An overflow crowd crammed the Visitors' Center at Living History Farms in Urbandale for a lively town hall meeting with 3rd District Congressman David Young. The exchanges between the Republican and audience occasionally turned heated.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

A new technology sweeping the real estate market is hitting Des Moines. Virtual reality tours show finished living quarters while they’re still under construction.

Minnesota-based Roers Investments now offers potential downtown apartment dwellers a chance to see what they would be renting before the construction dust clears. Virtual reality devices can now lead prospective tenants of the company’s upscale Confluence on Third project on a tour of the completed building. Jeff Koch with Roers says the new marketing tool is revolutionizing the real estate industry.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

Office space at the former AIB campus south of downtown Des Moines is being put to use as a hub for health-related nonprofits. It’s the first project to come since the University of Iowa took ownership of the 20-acre property last summer.

U.S. Department of Arts and Culture

A group in Des Moines is staging what it calls a People’s State of the Union event Monday night at a local jazz club. The evening will consist of stories told by representatives from various minority groups.

The storytelling circle will be made up of someone who uses a wheelchair, a Latina, a Native American, an African-American, a Muslim high school student and a refugee from the Middle East. One of the organizers is Carmen Lampe Zeitler.

National Advanced Driving Simulator

The U.S. Department of Transportation has selected the Iowa City area to be one of its ten proving grounds for driverless cars. Testing is scheduled to begin by the end of the year.

The Iowa City Area Development Group submitted the application to be considered one of the sites for testing automated vehicles. Its director of strategic growth, Tom Banta, says the presence of the National Advanced Driving Simulator at the University of Iowa helped the application stand out.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

Until recently, sheriff’s departments in 26 Iowa counties pursued policies described as “sanctuary” protections for undocumented immigrants. That number appears to be going down.

At the start of a public forum in the gymnasium of Hampton-Dumont High School, some ground rules are laid out by the event's organizer, Sister Carmen Hernandez.

“I would ask that any comments, or political comments and opinions might be saved for another time," she tells the crowd. "That probably won’t happen, but just so we know.”

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

In the days immediately following the election of Donald Trump in November, Muslims in Cedar Rapids said they needed to do something to spread the word about their faith. Since the president assumed office, they say this need has become imperative. 

Around 20 people gathered in a lecture hall on the campus of Coe College in Cedar Rapids last Saturday afternoon to learn a little something about the Prophet Muhammad.

Iowa State University news service

An alliance of educators, government officials and the Iowa National Guard is setting out to inform the public about cyber security. The group aims to better protect people from increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks.

The Iowa Cyber Alliance is the nation’s first statewide program dedicated to cyber security. One of its leaders is Doug Jacobson, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Iowa State. He says one of the group’s goals is to prepare young people for careers in what he calls “the very hot field” of cyber security.

Wikimedia Commons

Executives at Lee Enterprises took time out of their first quarter conference call Thursday to defend professional journalism against the onset of so-called fake news. The newspaper chain is set to launch a campaign to explain its journalistic principles.

The Davenport-based company operates newspapers and specialty publications in 21 states. Lee’s executive chairman Mary Junck blasted the proliferation of fake news. She says it underscores the importance of professional journalism.

Wikimedia Commons

President Trump’s executive order to bar citizens from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States is having a direct impact on families in Cedar Rapids. The Imam at the Islamic Center of Cedar Rapids says many people fear they may never see relatives again.

Imam Hassan Selim says the president’s recent order restricting travel between the U.S. and seven predominantly Muslim countries is creating fear and uncertainty among members of his Mosque.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

The West Des Moines-based bank holding company West Bancorporation is continuing a string of record-setting quarters. The parent company of West Bank is enjoying a commercial building spree in two key Iowa markets.

Michael Leland/IPR

Des Moines-based Meredith Corporation is riding revenue from political advertising to another record quarter of earnings. The past presidential campaign proved to be a windfall for the media company.

Meredith operates 17 television stations nationwide, including CBS affiliates in the fast-growing markets of Phoenix and Atlanta. Company chairman and CEO Steve Lacy says the record-setting second quarter was powered by a 27 percent increase in total advertising revenue for the stations.

John Pemble, Iowa Public Radio

President Trump is following through on a campaign promise by halting negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The executive action may lead farm groups to take a different approach to trade.

Iowa Reading Research Center

The Iowa Reading Research Center at the University of Iowa is initiating a new effort to reach older students who are struggling to read. It will begin with four schools where teenagers have become disconnected from their mainstream classrooms.

Dwolla

The Des Moines-based payment network Dwolla has completed a round of funding that will enable it to expand its Iowa operation. The announcement comes as the company adjusts its business focus.

A group of venture capitalists have invested nearly $7 million in Dwolla. The money will allow the company to add about 20 people to its sales and account management teams over the next year.

Dwolla CEO Ben Milne launched the payment network in late 2010. He says since then, the mission has changed somewhat.

John Pemble, IPR file photo

Many of the nation’s mayors are meeting in Washington just as the Trump administration is moving into office. The mayor of the state’s largest city is voicing hope the new president will pay attention to the needs of local governments.

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

Internet download speeds for more than a million households may soon become much faster. The communications company Mediacom is making Iowa its first gigabit state. 

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

West Des Moines is becoming the first city in Iowa to sign on to the national program known as Stop the Bleed. The effort is meant to train citizens to become first responders in cases of mass injuries.

The White House launched the project in partial response to the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Stop the Bleed is designed to train and equip people to save lives in emergency situations involving serious bleeding. 

Andrew B. Clark, SPOKE Communications, LLC

A small county in South Central Iowa is launching an innovative approach to attracting home builders. Officials in Clarke County are starting to give away land to prospective contractors.

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