IOWA Magazine | 03-18-2024

Campus Mail Spring 2024

7 minute read
Iowa Magazine readers share their thoughts on Herky’s origins, facility dogs who uplift patients at the children’s hospital, and the value of an English degree.
Campus Mail

Top Teachers

On a recent trip to Iowa City, I reconnected by chance with one of my favorite undergraduate teachers and had lunch with him. John Raeburn is chair and professor emeritus of English and American studies. During my time as an English major, I took three courses from him. He was my academic advisor, and he graciously wrote a reference letter in support of my application to law school.

John Raeburn and Tom Cunningham PHOTO COURTESY TOM CUNNINGHAM Attorney Tom Cunningham reunites with John Raeburn, his former English professor, in Iowa City to express gratitude for his University of Iowa education.

The 2 ½ hours we spent catching up on each other’s lives over the past 40 years not only reaffirmed how important my degree in English has been to my legal career, but also underscored the necessity of brilliant, engaged, and accessible faculty for an overall positive student experience. English majors learn to read texts closely, extensively, and critically; think creatively and analytically; and communicate effectively, both orally and in writing. They also develop research and problem-solving skills.

Through their study of a wide variety of literary genres, they become aware of diverse perspectives, and thus develop their emotional intelligence and a better understanding of human nature, which hopefully, in turn, enables them to connect and resonate with different types of audiences. These skills are transferable to almost any professional setting.

I count myself blessed indeed to have benefited from the academic excellence, scholarship, dedication, and teaching skills of faculty members like Raeburn, and to have earned a degree in English from the University of Iowa.

Tom Cunningham (81BA, 84JD)
West Des Moines

Brewing Up Hope

My husband and four of our children were diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa. We are happy to see that work is being done at Iowa and that people are donating to this research [“Brews for Blindness”]. It might be too late for us but hopefully a cure will be found.

Rory Conrad
Dunlap, Iowa

More Than a Game

‘It’s Bigger Than Basketball’” is such a great article. I never watched basketball until about five years ago and now never miss a game. I love all the stories you told behind the game. It’s so much more than the game; [the student-athletes and coaches] all do so much for the community and are such good role models. Thanks for writing the best story I have ever read!

Jean Pinney
Cedar Rapids

Dancing Through Time

Doing Things Our Way Trophy PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER N. WALKER An early University of Iowa dance marathon trophy honors couples fundraising for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Iowa Magazine had an outstanding special issue and a nice article on the “Dance Revolution.” You mention the dance marathons beginning in 1994, but I suspect you realize there were other dance marathons in Iowa’s history. 

I attended the UI as a doctoral student. In spring 1978, I participated in the “Doing Things Our Way at Iowa” Dance Marathon. The proceeds supported the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

At the time I was dating a young woman named Gail, and she asked if I would like to dance in the 30-hour dance marathon with her. As a doctoral student, I was busy but liked her a lot, so I said I would do it. She raised $471, which was good for the fifth-highest total any couple raised. Thank God for Gail, because I don’t remember that I got any sponsors.

Christopher N. Walker (81PhD)
Redlands, California

Pawsitive Impact

Thanks for having Corrin and Nacho at the hospital [“Facility Dogs Offer Comfort at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital”]. Best emotional therapy ever! I’ve been active at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, Illinois, and we’ve had therapy dogs (around 80 teams now) for about 15 years. Everyone loves the pups!

Donna Siemro (74PhD)
Arlington Heights, Illinois

A Caring Cause

An Enduring Mission” [about a family supporting breast cancer research at Iowa] is such a touching story. My mother, Dawn, was diagnosed with stage 3 metastatic breast cancer in April 2022. She too has undergone chemotherapy, immunotherapy, a double mastectomy, and then radiation roughly two months after that. She also supports Iowa by wearing her Hawkeye gear and celebrating her grandson Wyatt, who is a Kid Captain. Thank you all for the continued breast cancer research!

Jessica Keely
Solon, Iowa

This story was a wonderful tribute to my sister, Kim Stack Basler (83BM). She loved her family and her alma mater. I would like to point out Kim was born in Iowa City but was raised in Schaumburg, Illinois.

She and I both marched in the Hawkeye Marching Band, in which Kim played the piccolo. Our mom, Pat, and our dad, Phil Stack (63BA), both were avid Hawkeye fans, and they loved watching both of us in the Hawkeye Marching Band, including following the band to the Rose Bowl, Peach Bowl, and Gator Bowl. It was wonderful that years later, after Kim’s untimely death, Dad and his second wife, Anne, could make such a wonderful contribution to the UI in Kim’s memory with the research fund, and now Anne and Kim’s husband, Mark, have made the generous gift of naming an exam room for our beloved Kim.

Kristin Stack Hale (85BA)
Marion, Iowa

Kinnick Stadium PHOTO: UNIVERSITY OF IOWA SPECIAL COLLECTIONS An aerial shot shows game day in the early 1960s at Iowa Stadium (now known as Kinnick Stadium).

View from Above

The photo of the stadium on the inside of the back cover [“Fan Favorite,” fall 2023, p. 64] mentions the current buildings that are not in the photo—it being from the early 1960s. However, what is in the photo, bottom left, are the Quonset Huts, built for returning World War II vets. Notice the diapers hanging between huts? When my husband and I were married on Sept. 11, 1960, we lived in one of those huts as we completed our senior year. We could hear the cheers from the stadium during home games! Great friendships were formed when living in those duplex units.

Kathryn Hinsch Hammer (61BM)
Lakewood, Colorado

Mascot Memories

I really enjoyed the fall 2023 Iowa Magazine. I was especially interested in the Herky coverage—particularly the picture of the papier-mâché and chicken wire Herky head [“Herky Turns 75”]. My dad, Arnold S. Gillette, was the scene design professor in the drama department (then still part of the speech department) from 1932 until his retirement in 1974. He was asked by his friend Rollie Williams, who at the time was an assistant athletic director at Iowa, if he could make a Herky head to be worn by one of the cheerleaders. Dad thought that would be an interesting challenge, and the Herky head on the cheerleader pictured standing on the goalpost was his creation.

At the time, I was a sophomore or junior in high school at University High, which was directly across the Iowa River from the Theatre Building. I’d occasionally wander over to the Theatre Building after school, and I remember seeing dad working on that head.

J. Michael Gillette (63BA)
Tucson, Arizona

All-Star Coach

Of all the well-deserved accolades identified in Josh O’Leary’s excellent presentation [“25 Feats of Ferentz”], I hope that Coach Kirk Ferentz is also recognized for his even-tempered, well-mannered professionalism and decorum. He always appears to focus on the accomplishments, persistence, and commitment of his staff, coaches, and players. He never points the finger at anyone for the lack of execution or a failure that can occur during a long season. I’m confident that both the Big Ten and NCAA have long appreciated what he has brought to collegiate sports.

Joseph Tortorich

Putting in the Work

I can’t even imagine taking on the campus-wide disability needs as UI Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator Tiffini Stevenson Earl (93BA, 98MA, 02JD) does [“Independence at Iowa”]! I’m an Iowa nursing school grad who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2001 and changed my focus from pediatrics to neuromuscular conditions. I built the NeuroBalance Center in Barrington, Illinois, in 2017, focusing on exceeding the current ADA guidelines in every way possible. We had one building and got to plan every inch, so I imagine the daunting job of overseeing an entire college campus and the changes needed to old buildings and landscapes is huge. My heartfelt applause to Stevenson Earl!

Joy Wagner (82BSN)
Hoffman Estates, Illinois

Fast Fan

The Grateful Dead poster PHOTO: IOWA DIGITAL LIBRARY, UI LIBRARIES Led Zeppelin performed at the Iowa Memorial Union on Jan. 15, 1969, just three days after the release of its self-titled debut album.

When I was a sophomore at Iowa, I saw a poster for a band I had never heard of. I forgot about it, but during a huge snowstorm one night, I cut through the Iowa Memorial Union and heard blues and rock. It was Led Zeppelin [as featured in Iowa Magazine’s “Glory Days”]. The organizers quit taking tickets, so I went in with about 300 people to hear most of Zeppelin I and II. Unreal. The next day the town was buzzing. A month later, they were famous.

Frank McLain (72BA)
Nevada, Iowa

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