January 08, 2021[field_pillars]
January 05, 2021[field_pillars]
January 05, 2021[field_pillars]
CLAS junior Mishma Nixon publishes op-ed in Teen Vogue about the double-edged sword of racial justice classes
January 04, 2021[field_pillars]
December 13, 2020
This article could be a project by a University of Iowa Screenwriting Arts major, a script featuring a compelling protagonist who seemingly lives many lives, each of them at the center of some kind of action, all the while remaining humble and giving.
It's a story with all the elements of a blockbuster. Our hero overcomes adversity and racism, excels academically and in the arts, and is a star athlete. He becomes an expatriate American hipster who captures attention and generates a buzz in a glittering European metropolis. Then he walks away from it all to become an educator and a family man in Chicago—only to return abroad to become more famous than ever late in life.
It's not a screenplay, though. It's the remarkable life story of Harold Willard Bradley, Jr. (BFA 1951), a UI alumnus whose story has largely gone untold here at his alma mater.
We first meet Harold two weeks before the Great Crash of 1929 plunged the nation into the Great Depression, when his mother, a young African American woman named Hattie, gives birth to Harold in Chicago. He grows up happily in a home in the West Woodlawn neighborhood filled with ideas and the arts. His father, Hal, is a postal carrier, and his parents' social circle includes groundbreaking Black artists like Duke Ellington and the cartoonist E. Simms Campbell. Harold grows up to become a star football player at the local public high school, just like Hal had been. He also falls in love with music, and dreams of studying art in college.
Cut to the University of Iowa, where Harold enrolled at Iowa in 1946 to study art. Twenty years earlier, Hal had also attended the UI, where in a Hawkeye uniform he helped break racial barriers in college football. Hal left the UI before graduating to take a steady job with the U.S. Postal Service—life was not easy for a Black man in Iowa City the 1920s, with a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan active in the community—but Harold picked up where his dad left off.
As an African American student, Harold was not even welcome to live in a dormitory, and most apartments in Iowa City were off limits to him. Still, he put his talents and body on the line for the school and for a scholarship, becoming the star player on the Hawkeye football team. He was named Most Valuable Player after the 1950 season.
Most important, though, he befriended other Black students whose social life centered around the home of one of the few African American families in town, that of Helen and Allyn Lemme (the house was on the corner of Capitol and Prentiss Streets in Iowa City). Helen was a sort of housemother and role model for the few Black students on campus. She was an Iowa-born, college-educated racial-justice activist (she graduated from the UI in 1928) who fought for the students' rights, gave them food and an affordable, safe place to live—and threw raging parties that lasted all night long. Harold's old family friend Duke Ellington even played at one of the Lemme House basement parties on his way through town. Helen Lemme, who died in 1968, is memorialized in Iowa City by an elementary school named for her.
By all accounts, Harold was an outstanding student and well-liked leader on campus. He made lifelong friends at Iowa, including Ted Wheeler, a runner on the Hawkeye cross-country and track and field teams who competed in the Olympics in 1956 and later returned to the UI as head track coach from 1978 to 1997.
Harold graduated with his BFA in 1951. Upon leaving Iowa, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps, serving for three years. He played on his unit's football team in San Diego, where a pro scout was wowed by his talent and recruited him. He went on to a five-year pro football career, winning two NFL championships with the Cleveland Browns in 1954 and 1955. His final season was with the Philadelphia Eagles, and he retired in 1958 at the age of 30.
Harold enjoyed football, but never lost his passion for art. He landed a scholarship to study in Italy at the University for Foreigners of Perugia. He fell in love with the country, as well as with his soon-to-be wife, a German student named Hannelore Zaccharias. Hannelore and Harold married in 1962, launching a love story that spanned oceans and decades. She was a Jewish Holocaust survivor with a lively, curious mind and a passion for volunteerism; she died in 2014.
Harold and Hannelore moved to Rome to live an artistic and intellectual life in the cradle of Western civilization and a modern European hot spot. Painting was part of Harold's life, but he also started landing bit parts in Italian faux-Roman movies. He had parts in films starring Anthony Quinn (Barabbas, 1961) Elizabeth Taylor (Cleopatra, 1963), and landed a couple of bigger roles. He appeared in more than 20 films, and also dabbled in Italian theater and television.
In 1962, Harold started a life chapter that opened up his—and the city of Rome's—world. Youth culture was blossoming around the globe. Like many at the time, Harold, always a big music fan, was fascinated by folk music, which was seen as a Bohemian and "authentic" antidote to the glossy pop music and culture of the day, as well as by jazz and the blues. He turned his art studio into a performance venue called Il Folk Studio. Folkstudio, as it was known, became a hub of hip culture in the city, with the likes of Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, and Odetta passing through among the steady procession of local folk singers and jazz musicians looking for stage time and tips. Folkstudio generated such a buzz that it was written up in Time Magazine, and the government of Italy—a country that knows something about preserving culture—even subsidized its operation. In 2012, on the 50th anniversary of the opening of Folkstudio, the city of Rome placed a plaque honoring Harold at Folkstudio's original location.
By 1968, Harold and Hannelore had three children, Michaela, Oliver, and Lea, and were ready for new adventures. The family relocated to Harold's hometown of Chicago when he was offered a job as a curator for the Illinois Arts Council. He also taught history of education at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, and was involved with projects in the Champaign schools.
Perhaps inevitably, Harold's stateside career branched into the small screen. He worked for the Illinois Board of Education, producing instructional and educational television, and in the 1970s, hosted three primetime cultural affairs TV shows in Chicagoland, “Soul Side,” “Close-Up,” and “People Beat.” He often dealt with racism and other hot-button social issues on his programs.
Eighteen years after moving back home, Harold returned to Rome in 1987 to celebrate Folkstudio’s 25th anniversary. He fell in love with Italy all over again. Now empty-nesters, he and Hannelore moved back to Rome, and he has lived there ever since.
A reader might think this return to his beloved Italy, his adopted homeland, could signal that Harold's story is winding down. After all, by this point, he was pushing 60 years old and had had careers in football, art, film, stage acting, entrepreneurialism, television production and hosting, college-level teaching, public engagement, cultural-affairs curation, and parenthood.
But we're just getting to the beginning of the triumphant finale. Harold still had a whole new career ahead of him, one that has brought him widespread fame in Italy. In addition to adding a few more entries to his filmography, he became a renowned ambassador to the Italian public of African American musical styles and culture. He is revered today as an authentic gospel artist, performing and recording music imbued with jazz, blues, folk, and praise. He has performed in venues from world-class halls to little clubs, recorded six albums with ensembles and as a group leader, and sung before the Pope and Nelson Mandela. A 2012 release, "Live al Cafè Latino," memorialized a concert he performed on his 80th birthday.
Now our screenplay closes. Our lead character, whom we met as young Harold Bradley of Chicago, is living as a legendary figure in Rome at the age of 91, looking back at a fantastic, lifelong journey. He is just where he wants to be, in Rome, surrounded by loving friends. “He never got rich despite his wealth of talents because he always chose to give back, share, and pay forward his energy," Harold’s children wrote in a letter describing his accomplishments.
We may not have anticipated this ending, but there have been clear threads that have run through the narrative: music, art, love, performance, leadership, family, humility, and kindness. And throughout the story, Harold has remembered the University of Iowa as the place that inspired a fulfilling lifetime of learning, creativity, passion, and perseverance.
“Iowa formed him intellectually and gave him his first massive stage—the football field,” his children wrote. "He still talks about the people there who opened his windows to the world and shaped his international destiny."
For playing a lead role in such an extraordinary life story, the University of Iowa can be proud. And who knows, there could be a new scene or two yet to be written.
—By Nic Arp (MA 2003)[field_pillars]
December 19, 2020[field_pillars]
December 18, 2020[field_pillars]
December 16, 2020[field_pillars]
Suman Sherwani (BSE 2019), design engineer in Physics and Astronomy, named to Forbes Magazine's “30 Under 30” list for 2021
December 10, 2020[field_pillars]
November 24, 2020
With the majority of University of Iowa classes switching to a virtual format, instructors in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences have been discovering and employing new ways to engage students.
Professors have a lot of leeway in how they teach a class, with freedom to bring in new ideas and methods. Many in CLAS have been teaching at least partly online for some time, recording lectures to be watched on YouTube or ICON, for instance, or using video meetings for discussions. But in many cases, the abrupt shift to a virtual format required brainstorming and creativity.
Below are just a few examples of how professors in CLAS are adapting to serve students in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
See related article:
Teaching on Zoom differs greatly from what Lecturer Debra Trusty is used to—that is, a lecture hall packed with up to 400 students for her Classical Mythology class (CLSA:2016). But Trusty said the online version of the popular course is having a big impact on her students' learning.
Trusty was already using Top Hat, an online platform that encourages engagement with the material through "active learning," or the idea that students learn best when they are asking questions, discussing concepts, and exploring independently, rather than just passively taking in information. Now that the class is no longer in a physical classroom, she started posting pre-recorded lectures on the platform, and found that it helped her better connect with her students.
"I don’t get distracted by dogs barking and neighbors mowing their lawn and all the home stuff that’s going to infiltrate and potentially ruin the experience,” Trusty said. “By playing the video, I can focus more on my students during our time together, which is really nice.”
Principles of Chemistry 1 (CHEM:1110)
Even before the pandemic began, Renée Cole, professor and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Chemistry, had worked with faculty to incorporate more active-learning strategies into Principles of Chemistry, including the use of student response systems to facilitate class discussions.
An expert and innovator in STEM education, Cole had been looking at ways to implement a learning-assistant program into the course. Learning assistants are peers who facilitate discussions among groups of students in a classroom to encourage active engagement and support student success. The idea has proved prescient since the course moved completely online.
The learning assistants focus on how to duplicate the activity and interactions that occur in a physical classroom and engage students with the material. The assistants guide groups of about 20 students through pre-recorded lectures, pausing the video at appropriate times to facilitate productive conversations about the course material. As they discuss the material with students, they learn what points of confusion may exist, and relate that back to the course instructor.
“Students get more of a voice without feeling quite as uncomfortable about speaking up,” Cole said. “That was the history and intent with thinking about learning assistants.”
Dusty Persinger, a coordinator in the UI's Academic Support and Retention office, has helped Chemistry implement the program. She said it's important to understand what students could be experiencing, inside or outside of the classroom, that’s affecting their learning, and how the course’s learning space could best support them.
“The learning-assistant sessions do kind of create that sense of community,” Lecturer Adam Brummett said. “I think students maybe do feel a little more comfortable there. The learning assistants feel free to ask questions and ask the students where they’re confused and, therefore, we can take that information and use it to help build better support, build better resources for students, currently and moving forward.”
Housed in the Department of Rhetoric—but serving all UI students—the Writing Center has programs aimed at tutoring students or providing them with feedback on their written assignments. The center changes a little bit every semester anyway, noted Director Carol Severino, so it was relatively easy to move it online.
Prior to the pandemic, the Writing Center already used WCONLINE, a program common among writing centers across the country that allows students to sign up for tutors. Tutors now also use it to meet virtually with students, who can upload their papers to talk about and mark up during virtual sessions.
Severino is pleasantly surprised by some tutors’ reports that students can focus and engage better online than they did in the Writing Center, which was always very crowded. Though the center saw a drop in participation when classes initially moved online in the spring, Severino said tutoring slots and classes have been full this whole semester.
“These are very difficult times for undergraduates and graduate students, and we see our mission as talking about and addressing issues that are beyond writing,” she said. “So, we support the student, if the student is, say, having trouble engaging in Zoom classes or having family issues or illness issues affecting their academic work.”
Introduction to Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies (GWSS 1001)
Against the backdrop of a blue wall and books lined up on a shelf, Assistant Professor Lina-Marie Murillo teaches her Introduction to Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies course to nearly 150 students over Zoom. When the semester started, Murillo said, she wanted to find a way to teach the class in a way that’s flexible for students, but also keeps them engaged.
Murillo’s course meets twice a week, for a synchronous class on Mondays and an asynchronous one on Wednesdays, which can be anything from a pre-recorded lecture to an interview with a colleague.
When she’s live with a class, Murillo said she asks students to unmute themselves or type in the chat to answer questions. Hearing from students in this way is an example of something she can do more easily on Zoom than she could in a big lecture hall, Murillo said.
Even when she’s pre-recording a lecture, she’ll talk to students as if they are there with her to keep up the energy, Murillo added.
“I think honestly one of the things that keeps them excited about class is that I’m excited about class,” said Murillo, who also has an appointment in the Department of History. “I like my class, I like to teach, I like the things that I’m teaching—it’s my path, it’s what I do, and I love it.”
Department of Anthropology
Though students, staff, and faculty in the Department of Anthropology and beyond may be unable to view artifacts in person right now because of the pandemic, State Archaeologist and Adjunct Associate Professor John Doershuk said the UI will soon have high-end 3D scanners to share scans of these artifacts.
The 3D scanners, part of a project driven by Professor Matthew Hill, are being funded by student technology fees. Hill notes that the artifacts they deal with are very fragile, making excessive handling risky.
"It’s important to scan objects like these to avoid wear-and-tear and for increased accessibility," Doershuk said. “When you’re dealing with the real object, one person at a time literally can handle it. But if you’re dealing with a 3D scan, particularly an accurate one, which supports the ability to take measurements and to rotate it, look at it and see all the fine detail, a whole classroom can be individually manipulating those objects simultaneously, or even multiple classrooms.”
"We can also scan objects for virtual programming with residents of senior-living communities who are isolated because of the coronavirus, researchers who can’t come to Iowa, or just the general public to view on a website," said Elizabeth Reetz, director of strategic initiatives in the Office of the State Archeologist.
Doershuk added that the scans will be available for students to access individually because of personal interest or in connection to a class project. Once the digital library is up, he said, his office will be sure to make anthropology faculty aware of it as a resource.
“We’re always welcoming to students who want to use our facilities or collections, our archival resources, for whatever their school projects involve,” Doershuk said.
—By Katie Ann McCarver[field_pillars]
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