IOWA Magazine | 05-31-2024

Class Notes Summer 2024

11 minute read
The latest University of Iowa alumni and faculty achievements, including Caitlin Clark’s international impact, two doctors in Antarctica, and this year’s honorary degree recipients.


Olugbenga Adeoba (20MFA) is a poet featured in Unbound: An Anthology of New Nigerian Poets Under 40.

Camille Leclère-Gregory (21PhD) is an assistant professor of French and Francophone studies and director of the Institut d’Avignon at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania.

Global Inspiration


From New York to Los Angeles, Nike billboards have celebrated Hawkeye Caitlin Clark as one of the greatest women’s basketball players of all time. Now, she’s expanded her fan base globally to Uganda. Girls enrolled in ChildVoice—a nonprofit organization that supports women and children whose lives have been affected by conflict in Uganda, South Sudan, and the Congo—watched video of the Iowa women’s basketball season finale against Ohio State and then wore Clark shirts while playing netball at the ChildVoice Lukome Center outside of Gulu, Uganda. Des Moines physician Neil Mandsager (82MD), whose family helped launch ChildVoice in 2006, says, “We’re always looking for great role models for girls, and there’s no one better than Caitlin Clark.”

Girls wearing hawkeye jerseys PHOTO COURTESY CHILDVOICE Children in Uganda wear Caitlin Clark shirts to play netball after being inspired by watching an Iowa women's basketball game.


Sara Deniz Akant (12MFA), a poetry professor at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, received the 2023 Massachusetts Book Award in poetry for her collection Hyperphantasia.

Tala Al-Rousan (15MPH), an assistant professor at the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health at the University of California San Diego, has been named one of the Arab American Businesses and Professional Association’s top 10 most inspiring and influential women in the United States.

Erica Cole (19BA), founder of the adaptive clothing company No Limbits, has been named to Forbes’ 2024 30 under 30 list in retail and ecommerce.

Jessie Gaynor (13MFA), senior editor at Literary Hub, released her debut fiction novel, The Glow.

Charles Green (19MFA), a poet and playwright, wrote the Dungeons & Dragons-inspired play In the Castle of Eternal Sunset, which ran at Brick Aux in Brooklyn.

Samsun Knight (18MFA), an assistant professor in the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, released his debut novel The Driver.

Josh Krakauer (12BBA), CEO of Sculpt, an Iowa City-based marketing agency, was named the 2023 Young Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year by the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center.

Basil Kreimendahl (13MFA) has been named the 2023–26 Playwright in Residence at the Rattlestick Theater in New York, where he will develop his play Sadie River’s Drag Ball on the Lawn.

Sandra Kromminga (19BA) is an associate attorney at Peddicord Wharton law firm in West Des Moines.

Mark Mattes (12MA, 13PhD), an assistant professor of English at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, edited the book Handwriting in Early America: A Media History.

Bennett Sims (12MFA), a UI assistant professor of English, recently released a collection of short stories, Other Minds and Other Stories.


Kelly Haley Anderson (03BA) is president of Off Campus Writers’ Workshop, a global writing community based in Chicago.

Jerry Bednyak (01BSE), a managing partner at Skybox Capital, which invests in e-commerce and digital media, was named a 2023 Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year by the Iowa John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center.

Christopher Bolin (03MFA), an instructor at the College of St. Benedict & St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, released Anthem Speed, his latest book of poems.

Shane Book (02MFA), an associate professor at the University of Victoria in Canada, released his latest poetry anthology, All Black Everything.

Mike Bridenstine (03BA), a comedian, released his book on the rise of alt-comedy, The Perfect Amount of Wrong.

Matthew Clark (09MFA) released the essay collection Bjarki, Not Bjarki.

Tina Freese Decker (02MS, 02MHA), president and CEO of Corewell Health in Michigan, has been named the 2025 chair of the American Hospital Association.

Kaitlin Zander Emrich (07BS, 09MPH) is the public health director of the Black Hawk County Board of Health in Waterloo, Iowa.

Mayuri Patel Farlinger (04MFA) is president of Alliant Energy in Iowa.

Tiffany Armstead Flowers (00MA, 15PhD), associate professor of education at Georgia State University Perimeter College in Atlanta, received the 2023 Judy Richardson Literacy as a Living Legacy Award from the Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers for her project #EliminatingBookDeserts, which creates access to books for elementary through high school students.

Hana Hinkle (06BA, 09MPH), director of the University of Illinois’ National Center for Rural Health Professions and president of the Illinois Public Health Association, was named to the de Beaumont Foundation 2023 40 Under 40 in Public Health list for her work supporting rural health programs.

Jacqueline Creveling Johnson (07BS) was elected shareholder at Dean Mead, a law firm based in Naples, Florida.

Bridget Kemps (08BA, 08BBA) i s a deputy director of communications for USAID in Pretoria, South Africa.

Cristina Henriquez Kowalczyk (03MFA) recently published her new novel, The Great Divide.

Yiyun Li (00MS, 05MFA), a creative writing professor at Princeton University in New Jersey, released her third collection of short stories, Wednesday’s Child.

Shelley Minteer (00PhD) is founding director of the Kummer Institute Center for Resource Sustainability at the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, Missouri.

Jessica Belman Shannon (08BA) is an associate attorney in the family law department of Dentons Davis Brown in Des Moines.

James Frankie Thomas (19MFA), a novelist, critic, and teacher, released his debut novel, Idlewild.

Eric Vassilatos (01BBA), a managing partner at Skybox Capital, which invests in e-commerce and digital media, was named a 2023 Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year by the Iowa John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center.

Heather Wallace (04BA), a high school teacher in Phoenix, received a grant from the Palo Verde Fiesta Bowl Charities Wishes for Teachers Draft Day to purchase cameras and equipment for student-run yearbooks.

Alex Wilkes (02BA) is president of CooperVision, Americas, an internationally leading manufacturer of contact lenses.

Brian Wolf (02R, 06MS), the Kim and John Callaghan Endowed Chair in Sports Medicine at UI Health Care and the head team physician for Iowa Athletics, has been named director-elect of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.


Dean S. Adams (94MA, 95MFA) has been named dean of the School of Art and Architecture at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana.

Natoshia Askelson (95BA, 08PhD), associate professor of community and behavioral health at the UI College of Public Health, received a 2024 Iowa Mid-Career Faculty Scholar Award for her research in maternal and childhood health.

Jay Byers (96JD) is president of Simpson University in Indianola, Iowa.

Jake Chung (96BA) is president of the Educational League of Illinois, which supports all levels of public education in the state.

Peter Craig (93MFA) is a producer on the movie Mission Hill, a crime thriller based on a true story.

Rebecca Gillis Crow (93BA), a second-grade teacher in Chandler, Arizona, received a grant from the Palo Verde Fiesta Bowl Charities Wishes for Teachers Draft Day to support a Science of Reading program.

Pramod Dwivedi (94MSW, 98MS) is health director of Linn County Public Health in Cedar Rapids and president of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, which represents local health departments across the U.S.

David Hayes (96JD, 09LLM) is president of Coe College in Cedar Rapids.

Rob Kamensky (91BA) i s a partner at the Chicago office of the Husch Blackwell law firm.

Rachelle Karstens Keck (95JD) is president of Grand View University in Des Moines.

Michelle Rodgers Niermann (94MA) is the chief operating officer for UnityPoint Health, East Division, overseeing the organization’s hospitals in Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Dubuque, the Quad Cities, and Madison, Wisconsin.

Chris Pawelski (90MA) is an onion farmer featured in Muckville, a documentary about farmer depression and suicide, which premiered this past fall at the Woodstock Film Festival.

Seth Rosenthal (96BBA) is chief investment officer of Academy Asset Management, an investment advising firm, and founding corporate investor in Academy Veteran Impact ETF, which offers loans primarily to veterans and their families.

Iowa on Ice

Hawkeyes find each other even in the most unlikely places. Isaiah Reeves (20MD) and Jon Ahrendsen (78BS, 82MD) met while providing medical care to researchers and staff at Antarctica’s McMurdo Station. Ahrendsen, a practitioner of family medicine in Clarion, Iowa, and Reeves, a fourth-year student at the University of Texas Medical Branch’s aerospace and internal medicine residency program, recently connected over their Iowa roots during their rotations on the ice.

Alt Text PHOTO COURTESY JON AHRENDSEN AND ISAIAH REEVES Hawkeye physicians Isaiah Reeves and Jon Ahrendsen met each other while serving at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, one of the most remote places on Earth.


Patricia Foster (86MFA), a retired UI creative nonfiction writing professor, released her latest essay collection, Written in the Sky: Lessons of a Southern Daughter.

Brian Groves (88BA) invented the Chandelier Swan, designed to help replace high lightbulbs, which was named to Time magazine’s list of the 200 Best Inventions of 2023.

Janet Hassebroek Guthmiller (88DDS), dean of the University of North Carolina Adams School of Dentistry, was named 2023 Leader of the Year by the UI College of Dentistry.

David Hamod (81BA), president and CEO of the National U.S-Arab Chamber of Commerce, received the Outstanding Service Award from the Association of Americans Resident Overseas in recognition of his efforts to advance the rights of Americans living abroad.

Kevin Locke (82BS, 86MD), a medical examiner in Decorah, Iowa, received the Iowa Academy of Family Physicians’ 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Elizabeth Farris Whited (87BBA) is president of Union Pacific railroad company in Omaha, Nebraska.


Renee Rayner Brown (78BSN) retired after working in health care since 1978, including as a captain in the U.S. Air Force.

Jim Carney (70BA), a lawyer with Carney & Appleby Law in Des Moines, received an honorary membership from the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology in recognition of 30 years of service as a legal counsel and lobbyist for the organization.

Thomas Colbert ( 73BS, 78MA, 79MFA) i s chair of a recently finished project to reconstruct a historical canal boat in Wayne County, Pennsylvania, and was featured this past fall in the Our Living Woods art exhibition.

Francis Hamit (72BGS, 76MFA) is author of the genre-bending novel STARMEN.

Jon Janes (70BA) retired after a 51-year career in TV news across Iowa and Kansas, including WHO-TV in Des Moines and as news director at WIBW-TV in Topeka.

Markes Johnson (71BA), a professor emeritus of geology at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, published his fourth book, Islands in Deep Time.

Gerrit Marshall (77BA), a retired TV broadcast engineer from Madison, Wisconsin, won the 2023 Hemingway Look-Alike Contest in Key West, Florida’s annual Hemingway Days celebration, which raises scholarship funds for local students.

Susan Neely (78BA), president and CEO of the American Council of Life Insurers, was named to Washingtonian Magazine’s 2023 list of the most powerful women in Washington.

Scott Prill (74BS, 77MS) published his third book, Where the Corn Grows Tallest: A Tale of Mystery and Murder in America’s Heartland.

Dianne Welsh (78BA), a professor of entrepreneurship at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, received the Max S. Wortman, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award from the U.S. Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

Honored Alumni

The University of Iowa awarded alumni Bill Decker (66BA, 68MS) and Charles Ray (75BFA) with honorary degrees this spring, recognizing their career achievements and service to the university. Decker is a leader in computer science and research, while Ray is one of today’s foremost sculptors.

Bill Decker

Bill Decker

Now retired, Decker once served as an adjunct associate professor of computer science and the interim vice president for research at Iowa, overseeing dozens of programs and projects. Outside the university, he was a program director for advanced networking infrastructure at the National Science Foundation, where he worked to advance the speed and scope of the internet. He also served as secretary and vice chair for CICNet, part of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, an academic consortium of the Big Ten institutions and the University of Chicago.

Charles Ray

Charles Ray

A visionary sculptor, Ray creates innovative and reality-bending pieces for display all over the world, including at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. His sculptures, which sometimes take years to create and are regularly auctioned for up to seven figures, are often clever nods to artists who came before. Ray is also a professor emeritus at the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture.



Earl E. Fitz (68BA, 70MA), professor of Portuguese, Spanish, and comparative literature at Vanderbilt University, published his new book, Clarice Lispector: From Brazil to the World, this past spring with Purdue University Press.

Garrison Nelson (66MA, 73PhD), professor of political science at the University of Vermont in Burlington, has had a 50-year career that includes 11 books in print, an endowed chair, two professional association presidencies, and speaking invitations at 27 colleges and universities.

Jerre Stead (65BBA), chair emeritus of Clarivate, received the 2023 Arthur Miller Foundation Humanitarian Award for his support of theater education programs in New York City.

Ellen Bryant Voigt (66MFA) released her volume Collected Poems, which gathers all her work from her nine previous poetry collections.

faculty & friends

Denise Jamieson, UI vice president for medical affairs and Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine dean, received the Association of American Medical Colleges’ 2023 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation David E. Rogers Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions in medical education, research, clinical care, and community engagement.

Allison Jaynes, UI associate professor of space and plasma physics, received the 2023 Katherine E. Weimer Award, which recognizes women in the field of plasma physics, and the 2023 American Geophysical Union James B. Macelwane Medal, which honors the contributions of early-career scientists.

Mary Joy Stead, a philanthropic leader and volunteer for many nonprofits, received a 2023 Arthur Miller Foundation Humanitarian Award for her support of theater education programs in New York City.

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