Spotlight Iowa City: A passion for teaching and for film

BY TOMMY MORGAN JR. | MARCH 30, 2010 7:30 AM

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Interview Audio: David Gould

For David Gould, creativity and passion are key to the learning experience.

The coordinator of interdepartmental studies brings a certain touch of both of those to his work at the university and elsewhere.

“The word I would probably use is passion,” said son Nathan Gould in describing his father. “He really brings that fully to everything he’s doing.”

As an undergraduate, Gould studied studio art at Northern Illinois University, then came to the UI to get an M.F.A. in painting. While here, he took a class in leisure studies, enjoyed the discipline, and eventually switched areas.

During his career, David Gould took time off from teaching to focus on other projects. One spring, though, one of his nephews, who was studying at the UI and wanted to take a class with Gould, was diagnosed with cancer.

“He had always wanted me to go back to teaching,” the 50-year-old said.

Gould’s nephew died that summer, and the experience had a profound effect on him and his thoughts on his studies.

“I learned so much during that summer that really strengthened all the convictions and beliefs I had, certainly about what constitutes a life, and the role that leisure plays in it,” Gould said.

The day of Gould’s nephew’s funeral, Kenneth Mobily offered him a position in the leisure-studies department.

When it comes to teaching students, Gould can sometimes be outside the box, one of his colleagues said, but that only reinforces his lessons.

“He prefers discussion and interaction with students,” said Mobily, who is the academic coordinator for the leisure-studies program, and Gould is “very open and receptive to students [and] very approachable.”

Mobily said the first time Gould taught a leisure-studies course, he encouraged his students to try things they had never done before. This led to students getting on stage and singing, playing instruments, and performing magic tricks in front of the class.

“[That] very single student who comes in there is changed, is different, and that I’ve made a difference in their lives” is his goal for teaching, Gould said.

The passion for the arts that it seems his students may have hid is one that Gould wears on his sleeve. In addition to teaching at the UI, Gould is also a renowned filmmaker. His films have been shown on HBO, and in 1999, he won a Regional Emmy for one of his first videos, The Search For Meaning.

“It took me about two or three weeks [on my first film] to really realize that was a medium I loved working in,” he said as he sat in his office, the Emmy placed above his computer.

Gould is finishing a documentary that he hopes will première this fall about Hatun Surucu, a Muslim woman who was killed by her brother for “dishonoring” her family.

“It’s taken me to all kinds of learning experiences,” Gould said.

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