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Letters to the Editor/Online Comments

BY DI READERS | JULY 02, 2015 5:00 AM

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Kudos to an important quartet

With all of the big news occurring in the world, from political instability on faraway shores to earthquakes in the most unlikely of places — Oklahoma comes to mind — there has also been a seismic shift at the UI that most will have missed. But the shift was not the crashing of tectonic plates; rather, four important people recently retired. Each will be very much missed, even if the world does not know it. 

The people who retired are not the big names that capture headlines or get a front page above-the-fold pictures with timelines of their careers — but each should because the positive and often life-changing impact that each had on literally thousands of people was significant and their time at the UI will cause a seismic shift that notes the passing of an era.

My first “real job” after college was as a college admissions counselor in the UI Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Some people have terrible first-job experiences, but I was fortunate and hit the rookie jackpot. All that I’ve accomplished in my career — I know this to be true for many others — can trace directly back to the effect of the leadership team that ran the UI Admissions Office. These team member were so good they lasted for more than 25 years. They, individually and as a team, had positive life-influencing effects on the professionals they managed as well as thousands of students who chose to attend UI.

Starting from my direct boss many years ago: Jane Warner, senior associate director of admissions, and her direct boss, Kathy Basset, who was senior associate director, Michael Barron, executive director, and Emil Rinderspacher, director of admissions. 

So you might ask, what did they do that was so special?

We all make countless important decisions in our lives and among them is where we choose to take our college education. College-admissions counselors play a role in affecting how the rest of many lives may play out. One may never have thought about it that way, but it’s true. If a college counselor can help a student make the right connection to the right school that is a great fit, this outcome can help provide a solid base in a challenging economic world. So what you would hope of these counselors is that they are ethical, kind, smart, creative, and realistic — these adjectives describe the UI Admissions leadership team.

In the few years I worked with them and in the years since, I can say each of these special people cared deeply about helping students and their families make the best fit possible to get off to a sound start. When they made their plans to visit the hundreds of high-school and college fairs, I only ever saw ethical, caring approaches. Tight budgets, more tasks than time were always present, but each always figured out a way to make things work.

When I started my job as a new admissions counselor, Warner was my boss, and I cannot begin to describe how very lucky I feel to have had learned my craft as a manager from one of the best. She was a terrific leader and role model, and she needed those skills because I was ambitious, eager, and more than a bit headstrong, and I drove too fast, as attested by the time I got busted for speeding in an Iowa car. 

Actually, as I recall, our group of counselors was a diverse and quite feisty crew that cared, but we were green, learning the ropes. With patience, grace, strength, and a kind sense of humor, Warner gave me valuable management skills that I’ve used time and again, as have many others that were fortunate to report to her.  

Often in my interaction with others I can tell the difference from those of us who learned from talented leaders early in our careers and those who lacked this same fortunate privilege. I consider myself deeply fortunate, as should those students who were helped in their decision to attend Iowa or had some knotty problem solved by these individuals.

We all wonder if we made a difference in the world. Jane, Mike, Kathy and Emil: you can go into the next phase of your lives knowing with certainty that each of you has made an important difference, and the state of Iowa and future UI counselors and students can only hope that the next team is able to work as seamlessly, caringly, and well as did each of you. 

Lisa Spellman, UI admissions counselor, 1989-91

On: ‘Flattery: The Red Cross’s failings in Haiti’

I work at the American Red Cross and just returned from a trip to Haiti, where I wrote a blog post in reaction to the ProPublica article: http://www.redcross.org/news/article/Housing-in-Haiti-A-Second-Look. 

If you dig deeper into the Haiti earthquake response, you'll see that ProPublica's accusations simply don't add up. The American Red Cross has been saving lives and helping people in Haiti for more than five years -- delivering vital assistance like water and medical care in the quake's immediate aftermath and later supporting EIGHT hospitals and clinics, helping construct the country's first waste water treatment plant, getting more than 100,000 people into safe and improved housing, etc. etc. etc. The American Red Cross didn't have a deficit in 2010, so that accusation doesn't add up either. You don't have to take my word for it. Instead, research it yourself at redcross.org/haiti

Jenelle Eli

On: ‘Lane: GOP must evolve socially’

Note to self (and ESPECIALLY to every GOP presidential wanna-be): "Be humble in victory, and gracious in defeat".

Pam Jarvis

On: ‘Lane: Why pull Hamilton’s Face when Jackson remains?’

There is a bit of similarity between Hamilton and Jackson in that Hamilton was instrumental in drafting a fine Constitution for people just like himself and was quite certain that there was no one close to being anywhere as worthy as he was, and Jackson who presided as president for common folks that were also like him as long as they looked to be about as white as he was. On the scale of who most watered the roots of what had been stated by the Founders as the purposed of government and governing, Jackson by happenstance far more than Hamilton on purpose moved this nation on into becoming the greatest land for the most people to ever grace planet Earth. 

Ah but some people of these times will see and celebrate such differently: one the right, Dick Cheney being a key figure in the Federalist Society echoing the preference of a royal slant of privilege favored by “self-made” Hamilton and associates like John Jay, and on the left, Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders who better reflects the populist and progressive purpose of the Democratic Party that came down from anti-Federalist Jefferson as democratized by Jackson---and in such Bernie reflects such more so than some Democrats and all Republicans now running for the presidency.

Sam Osborne


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