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Release: April 16, 2001

Liberal Arts Alumni Fellows to speak about deaf literacy, South Africa, adversity, Medicare

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Four University of Iowa alumni who are returning to campus this month to be honored as Alumni Fellows in the College of Liberal Arts, will give free, public lectures during the week of April 23 about their work and life experiences since leaving the UI.

Jane Kelleher Fernandes, Gallaudet University provost, will speak on "The Shared Reading Project: Improving the Literacy Skills of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students Nationwide" at 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 23, in Room 308 of the Wendell Johnson Speech and Hearing Center. As a graduate student in comparative literature, Fernandes conducted pioneering research on the storytelling traditions in the deaf culture and led the way toward making campus events accessible by providing American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters. Now she will benefit from the tradition she started, as her lecture will be presented in English and ASL. She will speak about The Shared Reading Project, which is a nationwide effort in applying understandings from the teaching of English as a second language, to the use of English and American Sign Language. This lecture may be of particular interest to teachers of reading and of English as a second language, to members of the deaf community, and to physicians and educators working with deaf and hard of hearing students.

Also on April 23, James L. Gibson, Sidney W. Souers Professor of Government at Washington University, will speak on "Truth, Justice and Reconciliation: The South African Case" at noon in the Iowa Room of the Iowa Memorial Union. Gibson received his Ph.D. in the UI department of political science in 1975. Some of his research involves efforts to understand the public’s tolerance and intolerance of racial and other minorities, and he has pursued this question using case studies and surveys in the U.S., Western Europe, the former Soviet Union, and, most recently, South Africa. His presentation is based on extensive public opinion survey research done in South Africa.

On Tuesday, April 24, Reginald Golledge, a geography professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara, will speak on "Adjusting to Adversity" at 4 p.m. in Room 100, Phillips Hall. Golledge earned his Ph.D. in geography at the UI in 1966 and went on to a distinguished career in the field. One morning about 16 years ago, Golledge woke to discover that he was blind in one eye. Within a year, he lost sight in the other eye as well. This propelled him to pioneer research in fields that connect blindness and wayfinding. He studies the ways in which people -- both blind and sighted -- gain spatial understanding of their surroundings. He is noted as the founder of the behavioral approach in geography and established a new subfield of disabilities geography. In the lecture, he will give examples of specially designed assistive technologies that helped his rehabilitation in various phases of academic teaching, research, student advising, and paper presentation at academic conferences. He will emphasize his search for independence and self-help to facilitate reintegration into academe and society.

Robert Myers, who spent his career working for the Social Security Administration, including 27 years as its chief actuary, will speak April 24 on "Financing Problems of Social Security-Real and Imagined" at 10:30 a.m. in Room 101, Becker Communication Studies Building. He will also speak on "Financing Problems of Medicare-Real and Imagined," at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 25 in Room 31, Schaeffer Hall. Myers earned his M.S. in mathematics in 1934 and started work as a temporary employee doing actuarial calculations for the Economic Security Committee that had been commissioned by President Franklin Roosevelt. The work of this committee led to the creation of the U.S. Social Security Administration.

Linda Maxson, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, initiated the Alumni Fellows program in 1999 with funds from the endowed Dean’s Chair in Liberal Arts, which was created through a gift from the UI Alumni Association. Through the program, the college honors a group of distinguished alumni each year, inviting them to return to campus for a few days to meet with faculty members, teach classes, give lectures, and, interact with students.