On a day when temperatures were in the single digits, about 75 retirees went to the movies. The attraction was a visit February 27 to Iowa City’s new and only downtown theater, FilmScene. Andy Brodie, one of the co-founders of the nonprofit theater, welcomed the group.
Any visit to the movies, of course, requires a stop at the concession stand.
Is there a more iconic, Iowa-born film star than Marion Morrison? Yes, if he changes his name to John Wayne and becomes a Hollywood giant. Born in Winterset, Wayne (1907-79) starred in 142 films. FilmScene’s lobby features a life-size cardboard cutout of Wayne, providing a natural photo-op.
UIRA Program Committee member Nancy Lynch introduced Brodie, who founded FilmScene with Andrew Sherburne. The theater opened in December 2013.
Brodie told the group that the theater was an effort “to reclaim a little of Iowa City’s film history.” A writer, filmmaker and film programmer/promoter, Brodie studied film at the UI, where he served as programming director of the Bijou Theater, which has partnered with FilmScene.
Describing the theater’s purpose, Brodie quoted from its mission statement: “FilmScene is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the cultural vitality of the Iowa City area through the presentation and discussion of film as an art form.”
Appreciating movies is what the visit was all about, and with the Oscars then only two days away, UIRA members were treated to a viewing of several Oscar-Nominated Live Action Short Films. This image is from a Japanese entry, “Possessions,” in which old artifacts come alive and vex the living.
Another short, from Ireland, titled “The Missing Scarf,” was a child’s-like story of a squirrel, Albert, searching for a missing scarf by asking animals where it might be. Albert discovers that other animals are also missing things, like this polar bear who has lost his habitat. The narrator is George Takei.
And of course there had to be a love story, “The Blue Umbrella,” a USA entry. The blue umbrella spies a glamorous red umbrella, falls for her (it?) but then gets blown away into a drain, emerging later to be reunited with his (its?) rain-splattered paramour, or, if you prefer, parasol.
FilmScene is located on the Ped Mall at 118 E. College St., formerly occupied by Vito’s restaurant. More information about FilmScene, including membership in the organization and its Founders Circle, can be found at: www.icfilmscene.org/
The cafe may not have been open—it was between semesters—but there was still much “food for thought” during a UIRA program at the UI Main Library Jan. 14, 2014. The topic: the future of libraries with a focus on changes at the UI.
Culshaw explained features of the room in which a standing-room crowd of 60 gathered. It is one of several TILE rooms. The letters stand for Transform, Interact, Learn and Engage. The room has five round tables with nine seats at each, three computers, microphones for class discussion, flat screens and walls that can serve as blackboards.
Library staff led visitors on a tour of the renovation. The new Learning Commons features numerous computers, television screens, a central information desk, a number of meeting rooms and, of course, the “Food for Thought Cafe.” “Remember when you couldn’t even bring in a cup of coffee,” someone commented.
As part of the first-floor renovation, a new library entrance was created on the east side of the first floor—along Madison Street, site of a bus stop. Culshaw said he thinks about libraries as a three-legged stool—Collections, Space and Services.
Part of the Commons includes a series of television monitors. Pointing to the Library’s popularity, Culshaw said during December, 2013, a total of 113,000 persons came into the Library.
Books are still an important part of the Library operation. On the fifth floor is an extensive Conservation Lab, which rebinds and refurbishes valuable books. This photo shows small books created for decorative purposes by staff members.
Conservator Giselle Simón (right) explains what’s involved in producing a book.
Attendees were able to handle the books (above). Unusual books also were displayed. The book shown in the lower image above is a German children’s book (Das Sprechende Bilderbuch), printed in 1800. It has little string pulls on the side which, when pulled, emit barnyard animal sounds from squeaky toy mechanisms hidden in the “text block.”
Anatomy of a book--A framed illustration of the parts of a book hangs on the wall in the Conservation Lab.
Tools for rebinding and restoring books require high tech of a different nature, such as these presses. Beth Stone (right), a graduate student in the UI Center for the Book, explains the restoration process. The Center has been working on Czech and Slovak Museum materials recovered from the flood in Cedar Rapids.
Attendees showed keen interest in book restoration and rebinding. The Library doesn’t offer conservation services to the public but makes a list of vendors available, several of whom are located in Iowa City.
Walls in many of the rooms on the first floor also serve as a blackboard. You can write wherever you want—except in certain places, as noted in this announcement posted on a door: “DO NOT WRITE ON THE WINDOWS.”
Nearly 50 persons attended a presentation for UIRA of “Music from Exile” by the highly-acclaimed Daedalus Quartet Nov. 14 in the Recital Hall of the University Capitol Centre (UCC) in downtown Iowa City.
Beth Oakes, University strings lecturer, introduced the Daedalus Quartet, noting that the group was in Iowa City as part of the UI School of Music’s week-long artist-in-residency program. During the visit, the Quartet made several appearances in the community and on campus.
“Music from Exile” featured works by four composers. Two of them died in concentration camps, and two escaped. Erwin Schulhoff died in a concentration camp. Viktor Ullmann was taken to Theresienstadt and later was killed in a gas chamber. Mieczslaw Weinberg fled to the Soviet Union, and Erich Wolfgang Korngold went to the US where he gained prominence in Hollywood composing film scores.
Members of the Quartet, founded 11 years ago, are (left to right) Min-Young Kim and Matilda Kaul on violins, Jessica Thompson on viola and Thomas Kraines on cello. The group has performed around the world and are quartet-in-residence at Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania.
For the UIRA, the Quartet performed excerpts from works by each of the four composers. A formal presentation by the group of “Music from Exile” took place on campus the afternoon of Nov. 17.
Each member of the quartet spoke briefly about the life of one of the exiled composers. Speaking here is Ms. Kaul.
Ms. Thompson also spoke about one of the composers.
Daedalus members responded to questions from the audience. Much of the discussion focused on the concentration camp located northwest of Prague, Theresienstadt, as it was known by the Nazis. Built in the 18th century, the fortress town was known as Terezín.
Several members of the audience had visited the camp, now home to the Museum of the Terezín Ghetto. Held up to the world by Hitler as a kind of model community, Theresienstadt became a place to send notable musicians, writers and artists. The deception worked for a long time. Documented sources, however, show that Terezín became a way station for 200,000 men, women and children sent to other camps and probably to death.
More than 30 persons heard environmental activist David Osterberg of the Iowa Policy Project (IPP) discuss challenges facing the state of Iowa in achieving higher levels of water quality Oct. 23 at the Coralville Public Library. Osterberg, co-founder of the bipartisan IPP (http://www.iowapolicyproject.org/) and a former state senator, is a professor in the UI Dept. of Occupational and Environmental Health. He is an expert on water resources management and agricultural economics.
Relying heavily on research by himself and others, Osterberg said agriculture was the chief culprit in polluting Iowa waterways. As a result, Iowa and several other states contribute a disproportionate share of nitrogen and phosphorus to the Gulf. Changing farm practices—such as terraces and conservation tillage and conservation buffers—can help reduce the problem, as shown in this photo of farm land in Woodbury County in northwest Iowa.
Among those in attendance were several members of the League of Voters. The UIRA Board has agreed to invite to UIRA meetings other groups that might have a special interest in a particular program.
Osterberg points to a chart showing the progress—or lack of it—over the years in meeting the target of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to reduce “dead zones” (areas of low oxygen where marine life cannot thrive). While there are occasional reductions, the dead zones have met the NOAA target of less than 2,000 square miles only once since 1990.
Osterberg told the group that funding for conservation in Iowa has declined over the past 10 years. A controversial issue is whether the state should assume an aggressive role in mandating agricultural conservatism—or whether the state can depend on voluntary endeavors. Osterberg said the data “do not bode well for (a) volunteer system.”
This chart illustrates the damage certain crops can do to the environment. It shows corn and soybeans as primary sources of nutrients in the Gulf of Mexico, contributing 25% of the phosphorus and 52% of the nitrogen. Excessive amounts of nutrients can lead to more serious problems, such as low levels of oxygen in the water.
Osterberg responded to numerous questions from the audience, including: How much Iowa corn is used for ethanol? About 40%. He also spoke briefly about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) citing of Iowa regulators for non-compliance with the Clean Water Act, including an inadequate inspection program and failing to assess adequate fines for violators. The EPA and Iowa’s Dept. of Natural Resources are currently negotiating an agreement to bring Iowa into compliance.
Nancy Williams (left) and Nancy Lynch had a few more questions for Osterberg after his presentation and took the opportunity to thank him on behalf of UIRA.
UI President Mason spoke to nearly 100 persons attending the President’s Reception for the UIRA Oct. 10 at the Levitt Center for University Advancement.
With collective centuries of service to the University in the Wyrick Rotunda, President Mason said she found retirees “invaluable” for the historical perspective and experience they bring as she and the University face future challenges and opportunities.
President Mason commended those present, adding, “I hope and believe that the UI remains in your orbit of service, that your continued affiliation with us means that you have honored us with your desire to remain a part of the life of the university for a long time to come.” Her complete remarks can be found at
The afternoon reception afforded retirees an opportunity to visit among themselves as well as with other university officials, including Executive Vice President and Provost Barry P. Butler and Associate Provost for Faculty Tom Rice.
Nancy Williams, immediate past president of UIRA, visits with President Mason.
In her remarks President Mason referred to the reception as the UIRA’s “kick-off” of the new year.
President Mason took the opportunity to talk personally with many retirees.
The reception took place in the Wyrick Rotunda, named for retiree Darrell D. Wyrick, chief executive officer of the UI Foundation for 36 years, from 1962-98. This view looks down on the rotunda from the second floor staircase.
President Mason spoke about several major campus projects, including a new arts center necessitated by the flood of 2008. Meanwhile, a few steps away, just southeast of where the reception was taking place, a wrecking ball continued destruction of Hancher Auditorium, a flood victim. Work on a new auditorium just north of old Hancher is underway.
Despite flooding in Iowa City that approached but fell short of 2008 levels and an early invasion of nettlesome insects, retirees enjoyed the UIRA's annual picnic June 4 in City Park. (Thanks to Nancy Lynch for the picnic photos in this album.)
More than 50 persons braved the elements to enjoy a catered meal with potluck side dishes.
Riverside Theatre Artistic Director Jody Hovland spoke to retirees about the 2013 season's programs. Plans for retirees to attend a rehearsal at the group's outdoor facility in lower City Park was out of the question. In fact, all of Riverside Theatre's 14th season of productions will take place in the West High School auditorium.
The June picnic traditionally culminates UIRA's monthly programming activities for the year.
A plate full.
A guest at the picnic was Susan Boyd (left).
Outgoing UIRA President Nancy Williams welcomed the group.
Ken Kunz, former UIRA president and incoming president of the Emeritus Faculty Council, took care of details for the picnic.
Could they be discussing head gear?
Rick and Laura Walton were among picnickers braving the elements. Rick is incoming UIRA president.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in City Park, geese patrolled deep left field in ball park No. 3.
From Boston to Athens, New Zealand to Antarctica, Kenya to Easter Island, add Omsk for good measure and you've covered all seven continents—just as Rick Walton has run marathons on all seven continents: North America, Europe, Oceania, Antarctica, Africa, South America and Asia. Walton's feat places him in the exclusive Seven Marathons Club—he became its 100th member. The Club now has about 400 members ( http://www.sevencontinentsclub.com/). Walton recounted his runs at the monthly meeting of UI retirees May 15, 2013, at the Coralville Public Library. (slides courtesy Rick Walton)
In North America, Walton has run marathons in a number of cities, including Chicago, Boston (twice), New York, the Twin Cities, Duluth and Omaha. The Chicago run qualified him for Boston. Walton is professor emeritus, UI College of Dentistry. He will serve as UIRA president 2013-14.
Walton ran the Boston Marathon, referred to as the “Grandaddy of them all,” in 1993 and 1997. Among his marathons in the US, he characterized Boston as the “most exciting” but also the “most difficult” because of carbohydrate depletion during his first run. In comparison, however, he said some international marathons were more difficult than Boston. His best Boston time was 3 hours, 55 minutes.
In 1996 Walton participated in the 100th anniversary of the Athens Marathon. A year earlier he ran in the London Marathon. The Athens Marathon commemorates the run of the soldier Pheidippides from a battlefield at the site of the town of Marathon, Greece, to Athens in 490 B.C. Legend has it that Pheidippides delivered the message of victory, then collapsed and died. His run is said to have covered 24.85 miles (40,000 km). The Athens run covered 26.2 miles (slightly more than 42 km.), which is considered the official distance of the modern marathon.
On Jan. 1, 2000, Walton joined about 2,000 runners in this millennium's first marathon anywhere. The event took place in Hamilton, New Zealand, and added the continent of Oceania to Walton's running card. He described it as his “most exciting” international run but also the least interesting. He said it started in a drizzle and ended in a steam bath.
The most unusual—and probably most dizzying—of Walton's marathons took place Feb. 6, 2001, in Antarctica. That year the weather was so bad the 87 participants wound up running laps—422!—aboard the ship, the Lyubov Orlova. The sights were incredible, said Walton: seals, penguins, whales, skuas (a type of seabird), dolphins and orcas.
Walton's most difficult international marathon, the Safaricom in 2002, took place near the equator in northern Kenya at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. Walton said the run offered the 440 runners “incredible scenery” but also danger as rangers kept watch on the ground and in the air. It was Walton's slowest marathon at 5 hours, 10 minutes, yet he won his age group by 45 minutes. Safaricom combines running with fund raising which since the inaugural marathon in 2000 has raised $3.8 million to benefit schools, hospitals and conservation projects.
Easter Island (Rapa Nui) provided Walton with what he described as his “most lonely and remote” marathon. The marathon took place on the Polynesian island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean in Rapa Nui National Park, Chile. The island is famous for its more than 800 monumental statues called “moai,” designated a UNESO World Heritage Site. It was Walton’s best finish ever—seventh overall.
Asia was Walton's last of the seven continents. The Siberian International Marathon took him in 2004 to Omsk, once a major center for Russian exiles, including Dostoyevsky in 1849, and today a stop on the Trans-Siberian railway. The city of Omsk initiated the Siberian Marathon in 1990 when the city first opened to foreigners.
Walton happily celebrated completing the Siberian Marathon. He said said this was the easiest of his international marathons, probably due to the flat terrain and little traffic.
The source of energy and stamina for all these marathons?
More than 80 persons attended UIRA's annual business meeting and luncheon April 23, 2013, in the Kinnick Ballroom of the Holiday Inn Conference Center in Coralville. Besides reports from officers, the meeting included election of officers and a musical program. Minutes of the meeting can be found elsewhere at the UIRA website.
UIRA President Nancy Williams thanked volunteers who have contributed to UIRA and reviewed the year's activities. She reported Iowa retirees were represented at meetings of the Big Ten Retirees Assn. and the Assn. of Retirement Organizations in Higher Education (AROHE). She noted joint activities of the UI Emeritus Faculty Council (EFC) and UIRA and said the two retiree groups have discussed merging.
In the audience were five past UIRA presidents: Kathie Belgum (2001-02), Karole Fuller (2006-07), Penny Hall (2009-10), Jean Hood (2010-11) and Dick Stevenson (2008-09).
Gene Spaziani, chair of the Membership Committee, reported UIRA currently has 611 dues-paying members representing 542 households. While overall membership declined by about 6% compared to last year, the number of new members joining increased by 15%—to 120.
UIRA Treasurer Joe Joynt reported figures for 2011-12: Income—$7,486; Expenses—$6,398; Balance at the beginning of the year—$19,569; Balance at the end of the fiscal year—$20,657.
In reviewing UIRA's programming for the past year, President-elect Rick Walton described the monthly meetings as “a focal point” for UIRA. He characterized the year's programs as “very interesting, relevant and generally well-attended.” He later introduced today's program.
Following lunch, UI Music Professor Stephen Swanson presented a medley of songs. A concert and opera singer as well as a teacher of singing and opera stage director, he has sung in opera houses in Switzerland, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands and has performed as a soloist with many of the world’s leading conductors. His accompanist was Casey Rafn.
Professor Swanson has recorded several CDs, including “Animal Songs: Bestiaries in English, French & German” (Albany Records). “Animal Songs,” produced in collaboration with UI Professor David Gompper, includes a cycle of nine songs based on poetry by Iowa's first poet laureate, Marvin Bell.
Joining UIRA President Nancy Williams and President-elect Rick Walton (center) was one of the founders of the association, Frank Cheng. Cheng is UI Professor Emeritus, having retired from the University in 1992.
“What Has the Higgs (God) Particle to do with Anything” was the title of a presentation at a UIRA program March 29, 2013, by UI Physics and Astronomy Professor Usha Mallik. About 60 persons attended the program at the Coralville Public Library. Dr. Mallik is part of an international team specializing in experimental particle physics. (Slides in this album are courtesy of Dr. Mallik)
Dr. Mallik explained how the Higgs boson fits into the theory of the universe. (Higgs derives its name from Scottish physicist Peter Higgs who helped explain how particles acquire different masses; boson refers to any of a class of elementary or composite particles.) This slide shows the hierarchy of things, from the largest (universe—top left) to the smallest (elementary particles—bottom left).
The birth of the universe occurred as a result of the Big Bang occurring 13.8 billion years ago, said Dr. Mallik. In this slide, note the progression from right to left toward the Big Bang. Work by Edwin Hubble in 1929 significantly contributed toward understanding that the universe has been expanding, presumably from an initial explosion called the Big Bang.
The era of particle physics came about when a change occurred producing matter in a “mist-like quark-gluon plasma,” shown in this slide as a familiar brand of popular soup. The image facing the can shows the transition took place during the period of the Big Bang. (See the tip of the cone in the preceding slide, “Birth of Our Universe.”)
Dr. Mallik explained that the universe in its infancy went through an exponential expansion, growing extremely fast by several orders of magnitude. This slide illustrates the known ingredients in that “Primordial Soup Recipe.” The percentages, says Dr. Mallik, are approximate and subject to possible future measurements.
On July 4, 2012, the world's press headlined the discovery of the Higgs boson. The announcement came from scientists at the Large Hadron Collider, the world's largest atom smasher at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, Geneva, Switzerland. Scientists affirmed the discovery months later on the day marking Einstein's birth, March 14.
Dr. Mallik said the ultimate goal is to understand what conditions after the Big Bang led to the universe as we know it today. This slide compares the discovery of Higgs boson to finding a needle in what looks like a haystack. But by no means is everything known, said Dr. Mallik. She suggested: “Stay tuned.”
Iowa's efforts to combat flooding was the topic of a UIRA program March 6, 2013, at the Iowa City Public Library. About 30 retirees heard Professor Larry Weber, co-founder of the Iowa Flood Center and director of the University’s IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering (formerly Iowa Institute of Hydraulic Research). His topic: “A Critical Resource for all Iowans (and a model for the Nation?)”
Professor Weber, originally from Dyersville, holds the UI's Edwin B. Green Chair in Hydraulics. The Iowa Flood Center was established in 2009 after the 2008 floods. Iowa's Legislature funded the Center with appropriations of $1.3 million each of its first three years. Its budget for fiscal year 2013 is $1.5 million.
The Flood Center's parent organization, the IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering, has 47 research engineers and scientists and 113 graduate students. More than half of the students are international. Part of a PowerPoint presentation, this slide illustrates the Center's cutting edge work through “incorporating computational simulations with laboratory modeling and field observational studies.”
Professor Weber told retirees that the Flood Center works closely with numerous state and federal agencies. Iowa's model, he said, has the possibility of serving as a model for other states.
Mapping state waterways represents a large part of Flood Center activity. This map shows the status of the Flood Plain Mapping Project. A myriad of Center maps are interactive and can be found at http://iowafloodcenter.org/\ and then by going to IFIS (Iowa Flood Information System).
More than 100 UI retirees were guests of Hawkeye football Feb. 28, 2013. They toured new facilities and learned about future plans. Shown here is the Richard O. Jacobson Athletic Building which currently houses offices for football staff.
The tour began inside the 102,000-square-foot indoor practice facility completed in fall 2012. The building has 45-foot high side walls and 65-foot clearance at the peak and the requisite 100-yard field.
The building also serves other UI sports, including softball and baseball. Student athletes have ready access to the the facility. At the north end are three platforms for filming.
UI retirees were able to inspect the building and get an up-close look at the turf, an artificial grass called FieldTurf. The building replaces the 27-year-old “Bubble,” which was deflated in April 2012.
Host for the event was Dr. Jane C. Meyer (left). She was introduced by Kathie Belgum, UIRA past president. UI's Senior Associate Director of Athletics since 2001, Dr. Meyer oversees all intercollegiate athletics facilities projects and operations.
Dr. Meyer said the practice facility was the first of a development program to keep UI competitive. The second phase—the Football Operations Facility—will connect to the practice facility. It will house coaches' offices and locker rooms with space for training, sports medicine and equipment.
Football place kickers haven't been overlooked. Retractable fiber goalposts cling to the roof at each end of the indoor practice facility.
Here's a close look at the FieldTurf. Fibers produced from rubber (inset) are made to replicate blades of grass.
Student athletes gain entry to the practice facility using a fob or hand recognition system (shown in photo).
During a sack lunch Dr. Meyer explained athletic funding. Programs operate on an annual $80 million budget with ticket sales, contributions and TV receipts each accounting for one-third. Big Ten teams share TV revenue equally. She noted no public funds go toward construction costs.
Dr. Meyer showed retirees plans for the second phase of construction. Cost of the practice facility was $12.5 million. Total cost of the entire development program will be about $55 million.
Retirees were able to view artist renderings of what will eventually emerge as the second phase of construction.