Coe College E-News

August 31, 2017

Secure your Kohawk legacy

The renovation of Eby Fieldhouse is almost complete. On top of providing Coe students and student-athletes with one of the best athletic and recreation facilities in the Midwest, the project also gives you a unique opportunity to leave your legacy on campus.

Play the video to find out how.

Donors who contribute $1,000 or more (with up to four years to pay) to the Athletics and Recreation Complex renovation and addition will be recognized on a plaque on a locker in one of the new locker rooms.

By raising $6 million for Make Your Move, the college can receive a generous $3 million grant from the Hall-Perrine Foundation of Cedar Rapids. Visit today.

Feller honored at 9th International Conference on Borate Glasses, Crystals and Melts

Coe students Emily Montelius '20, Chevelle Boomershine '18, Collin Wilkinson '19 and Victoria Eng '18 joined B.D. Silliman Professor of Physics Steve Feller at a conference in his honor at Oxford University.
Coe students Emily Montelius '20, Chevelle Boomershine '18, Collin Wilkinson '19 and Victoria Eng '18 joined B.D. Silliman Professor of Physics Steve Feller at a conference in his honor at Oxford University.

B.D. Silliman Professor of Physics Steve Feller was recently recognized by leading glass researchers at the 9th International Conference on Borate Glasses, Crystals and Melts, held on the campus of St. Anne's College at Oxford University, United Kingdom. The conference was held in honor of Feller in recognition of his unique contribution to the study of borate materials and his lifetime of achievement in the study of glass. It was fitting recognition for Feller, as the professor and researcher who co-founded the conference series more than 20 years ago.

The conference opened with a tribute to Feller by his former student and longtime colleague, Fran Allison and Francis Halpin Professor of Physics Mario Affatigato '89. In describing Feller's academic and personal experiences, Affatigato emphasized how his mentor had developed a world-class undergraduate scientific research program from scratch. Feller then took the stage, giving an overview of his 44 years of glass research. In total, seven alumni helped to honor Feller by attending the conference, along with eight current Coe students, his wife, Barbara, his daughters, Heidi and Rachel, and their families.

Feller participated in what is now considered as the first borate conference in 1977 when he was completing his Ph.D. in physics at Brown University. The meeting was hosted by the New York State School of Ceramics at Alfred University in Alfred, New York. The idea to create a series was discussed at that time, but never materialized. Upon earning his doctorate, Feller then joined the Coe physics faculty in 1979.

In 1992, Feller presented on new glass discoveries made at Coe during a meeting of the American Ceramics Society in Washington, D.C. While there he met Adrian Wright, Professor of Amorphous Solid-State Physics at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, and a world expert on neutron scattering. The researchers quickly developed research collaborations and a lifelong friendship.

Feller received a Fulbright award to conduct neutron scattering research on glasses at the University of Reading in 1996. During a lunch conversation, Feller and Wright decided to reinitiate a borate conference series, patterned after the 1977 meeting. Funding was provided by The Royal Society, the University of Reading and other interested glass groups, with the first meeting held in the United Kingdom that same year. Affatigato, who was concluding his first year as a Coe faculty member at the time, as well as 15 Coe students, participated in the conference.

Coe physics students have actively participated in the seven borate conferences held ever since. Coe College hosted the fourth International Borate Conference in 2002. Other host sites have included Bulgaria, Italy, Japan, Canada, and the Czech Republic.

Early on, Wright and Feller decided to honor an outstanding glass researcher at each conference, which takes place every third year. In fact, Feller's mentor and advisor at Brown, Professor Phil Bray, was recognized for his work at the second Borate Conference. Last year, Feller received word from the organizing committee he was selected as the 2017 honoree of the group.

"It felt good to give a talk on my life's work, and it was special when Mario presented my biography to the group," said Feller. "It was a wonderful honor for me personally, but it is also good for Coe to get this kind of recognition from peers in the scientific community. We are viewed in a very favorable light within our niche."

In his 38 years at Coe, Feller and his colleagues have built the Coe Physics Department into the national leader it is today. In addition to the teaching and learning that takes place during the school year, an active summer research program has been developed by the Coe Physics Department.

"We are certainly one of the most active physics departments in any liberal arts college in the country," said Feller. "We have achieved something quite exceptional at Coe. More than 30 students spent the summer on our campus conducting physics research."

During the meeting, Affatigato noted the deep friendship he and Feller have developed over the years, and expressed profound gratitude to his colleague and mentor.

"The Borate Conference provided a fitting tribute of Steve's four decades of professional success and leadership," said Affatigato. "From scientific work on structure and properties to the development of future scientists and the initiation of the Borate Conference, his work will stand the test of time by his positive and multifaceted contributions to the fields of physics and glass science. No better recognition can be found for a scientist."

To ensure continued success, Feller and his colleagues are making plans to preserve the college's Center for the Study of Glass, and enhance the program. Coe has committed a tenure-track physics faculty member and glass scientist to ensure the continuity of Feller's work as he enters phased retirement. For 2017-18, Feller will be teaching two courses and increasing his focus on research with students. For the following two years, he will be spending his time exclusively on student research opportunities.

"We have to be proactive to maintain a program like this," said Feller. "It just doesn't happen without planning for the future. The inner drive of our faculty to help all of our students succeed is very important."

Feller says that collaborations have been crucial to the success of the Coe glass research program. From the beginning, he has always sought to work with scientists with mutual interests, many of whom were at the borate conference. The result has been joint research opportunities for the physics faculty and students in England, Brazil, France, Canada, Greece, Japan, Italy and China, as well as leading university and industrial research laboratories in the U.S.

Second major award in a year

The latest honor represented Feller's second major award in a year. Last summer, he was the first recipient of an exceptional and prestigious award granted by the original worldwide glass research organization in its 100-year history. Feller was named as a Centenary Fellow of the Society of Glass Technology (SGT). Created in 2016, the Centenary Fellow of the Society award celebrates the 100th anniversary of the founding of SGT.

The award was presented at the centenary meeting of the SGT held at Sheffield Cathedral in Sheffield, England, with hundreds of scientists from around the world in attendance. The SGT, the first society dedicated to the study of glass, was established in 1916 at Sheffield University.

As part of the organization's celebration of its centenary, the society presented three awards. Each awardee was named a lifetime honorary fellow in the society, called a Centenary Fellow. The recognition was granted in the areas of science, industry and service to the society. Feller was chosen as the scientist to receive the inaugural award.

According to the SGT, Feller was recognized, "For his exceptional contribution to glass technology and the society by way of publication of a large body of world-class scientific work, enthusiastic support of the SGT American section, his excellence as a teacher and the establishment of a new Glass Research Center at Coe College."

A career of research and teaching accomplishments at Coe

Feller has been studying glass since he was a graduate student at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. In his graduate research he used nuclear magnetic resonance techniques to study glass. Feller brought his knowledge and experience to Coe when he began teaching physics in 1979.

Starting with a handful of students each summer in the early years, Feller decided to focus on researching the properties of glasses and making new glasses.

"In the early days, we had three or four students doing research each summer. We began to write papers together, we began to give talks together, and it just kept growing," said Feller. "It was a good fit; we developed a niche of excellence."

Today, Feller and his physics colleagues work with several dozen students each summer, studying the properties and atomic structures of glasses among many topics. This research work has resulted in the discoveries of new types of glass at Coe.

When Affatigato returned to the college as a physics faculty member in 1995, Feller says the "gestalt" was apparent and the program began to quickly build on itself.

To garner the funding for the glass research, Feller started to research grant opportunities early in his Coe career. His first significant grant came from the Research Corporation, followed by initial funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1986. Since then, the NSF has continually funded research in the Coe Physics Department, with more than $8 million in grants overall. Along the way, Coe also became one of a few small colleges in the country designated as a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) site by the NSF, which further expanded the opportunities for students.

"From 1986 through the present, we've been fortunate to receive continuous funding from the NSF," said Feller. "The primary grants have come from the NSF, but we've received support from other foundations and sources as well. Mario has also received lots of grants for research and equipment."

In addition, Coe College has been supportive of the physics research in many ways, such as providing free summer housing for research students. This serves as an incentive to help Feller and his colleagues to attract the best students to conduct research each summer. All totaled, what began as a modest effort has turned into a $250,000 operation each summer.

"We want the best students to join us each summer," said Feller. "Over the years, we've been able to provide our students with life-changing opportunities and experiences."

Travis named director of athletics and recreation

Sonny Travis
Sonny Travis
Director of Athletics and Recreation

Sonny Travis has been selected as the new director of athletics and recreation at Coe College. Travis comes to Coe from Emory University in Atlanta, where he served as the men's soccer coach since 2007. He brings extensive NCAA Division III experience to Coe as an accomplished athletics director and exceptional coach.

In 31 years of coaching men's soccer at the NCAA Division III level, Travis has a career record of 416-139-51. After the 2016 season, his .729 career winning percentage places him 44th among NCAA all-division coaches all-time, and 14th among NCAA Division III coaches all-time. His 416 victories are the 17th-most in NCAA Division III history, eighth among active NCAA Division III coaches and 37th-most all-time in all of collegiate soccer.

Prior to joining the Emory program, Travis had an outstanding stint from 1989 through 2007 with the Virginia Wesleyan University men's soccer program in Norfolk. In addition to his coaching responsibilities, Travis served as director of athletics at Virginia Wesleyan from 1999 through 2007. In this role, he led the planning, fundraising and oversight for two major athletic facility projects.

At Coe, Travis will be responsible for the organization and supervision of 21 NCAA Division III teams, as well as the management of the athletic and recreation facilities. This includes the supervision of an athletic staff encompassing over 60 professionals with more than 450 student-athletes each year.

"I'm impressed by the strong athletic programs and commitment to academics at Coe, in the best tradition of NCAA Division III. Moreover, Coe's striking new athletic and recreation facilities rank among the best in the country, providing tremendous opportunities for wellness, practice and competition," said Travis. "I look forward to working with all of our student-athletes and coaches to build upon the long-standing tradition of excellence in the Kohawk athletic program. I would like to thank Coe President Dave McInally and Vice President Larry Lee for the opportunity to be the next director of athletics and recreation at Coe College."

In announcing the appointment, Coe College Vice President of Facilities and Operations Larry Lee noted Travis' broad background in leading highly successful athletic programs.

"Members of the search committee were impressed by Mr. Travis' breadth and depth of experience. He has a track record of success, both as a coach and an athletics director, in highly regarded NCAA Division III programs," said Lee. "He has been described as a ‘coaches' coach and an authentic leader,' and we are very pleased that he will be leading Kohawk athletics and recreation."

The new Coe athletics and recreation director began his duties at Coe on Aug. 28. Travis replaces John Chandler, who had served as director of athletics at Coe since 2001. Chandler has now returned to his former role as an athletic trainer for the college.

A biographical sketch of Sonny Travis

Travis was named the head coach of the Emory University men's soccer program in July 2007. During his 10 seasons at Emory, Travis led the Eagles to a 122-47-14 record, including five trips to the NCAA Tournament and back-to-back 16-win seasons for the first time in school history in 2007 and 2008. He has also coached numerous players to receive all-American, all-region and all-conference honors.

During his tenure at Virginia Wesleyan, he established himself as the school's all-time winningest coach with a record of 270-74-31. He directed Virginia Wesleyan to 13 NCAA appearances and eight Old Dominion Athletic Conference championships. Three of his squads advanced to the NCAA Tournament's Final 16. He had been honored as the "Coach of the Year" 15 times, including five ODAC selections.

In honor of his work at Virginia Wesleyan, Travis was named to the school's Athletic Hall of Fame as part of their fifth class in 2013.

From 1986-89, he served as the men's soccer coach at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. Early in his career, he was a high school athletics director, soccer coach and physical education instructor.

Travis holds a Class "A" license with the United States Soccer Federation as well as an NSCAA Premier Diploma. In the Atlanta area, Travis and his soccer team have performed community service with the Special Olympics, Atlanta Community Foodbank and FirstWorks Soccer and City of Refuge Club.

Travis played soccer at Slippery Rock University where he earned his bachelor's in physical education and health in 1977. He received his master's in physical education/sports administration concentration from the University of North Carolina in 1980.

Coe featured in The Princeton Review's "The Best 382 Colleges" 2018 edition

Coe College is one of the nation's best institutions for undergraduate education, according to The Princeton Review. The education services company features Coe in the new 2018 edition of its flagship college guide, "The Best 382 Colleges."

Only about 15 percent of America's 2,500 four-year colleges and four colleges outside the U.S. are profiled in the book, which is one of The Princeton Review's most popular guides. Published annually since 1992, it includes detailed profiles of the colleges with rating scores for all schools in eight categories, plus ranking lists of top 20 schools in the book in 62 categories based on The Princeton Review's surveys of students attending the colleges.

In its profile featuring Coe, The Princeton Review quoted students who praised the college for fostering "an environment where student growth through leadership and responsibility is possible." Among comments about the Coe experience, students noted the Coe community is so close knit that "once one Kohawk goes and finds success somewhere, they make sure to bring others along with them."

Coe students characterized professors as "devoted to the understanding of course context and success of the students" and said the college "has a great aptitude for raising the bar when it comes to the personal development of its students." Further, professors at Coe "love sharing knowledge and finding opportunities for students to achieve their fullest potential," which allows students "to gain skill and knowledge that may not be available at a bigger college."

According to the Princeton Review, wellness is a huge part of Coe's culture, along with an abundance of on-campus activities. Community service is also emphasized at Coe, with ample opportunities to volunteer in the Cedar Rapids area. The profile also heralded the welcoming library, strong multicultural organizations and diverse student body as strengths of the college. The survey characterized the student body as "friendly, but opinionated," with "a diversity of ideas, opinions and leanings." One student noted, "If I am struggling with carrying something, I don't know where I'm going, or need help with a class, people will go out of their way to help me regardless if I know them or not."

In the "Survey Says" sidebar in the book's Coe profile, The Princeton Review editors listed topics that Coe students were in most agreement about in their answers to survey questions. The list includes: "Students are happy," "classrooms and lab facilities are great," internships are widely available," there are "active minority support groups" on campus, it is "easy to get around on campus," and "students love Cedar Rapids."

"We chose Coe College for this book because it offers outstanding academics," said Robert Franek, The Princeton Review's editor-in-chief and author of "The Best 382 Colleges." "Our selections are primarily based on our surveys of administrators at several hundred four-year colleges. We also visit dozens of colleges each year and give considerable weight to opinions of our staff and our 24-member National College Advisory Board. Most importantly, we look at valuable feedback we get from each school's customers—our surveys of the students attending them. We also keep a wide representation of colleges in the book by region, size selectivity and character."

Coe President David McInally affirmed that the college takes pride in being selected for the "Best Colleges" book.

"Through the college's inclusion in this Princeton Review publication, Coe has once again received recognition as a national leader in higher education," said McInally. "Along with highlighting the college's outstanding reputation for academic quality, the profile also provides insight into the combination of factors that make Coe's culture exceptionally friendly and supportive. With a student-centered environment within the campus community, Kohawks are transformed with life-changing experiences, gain confidence in themselves and their future potential, and are rewarded with success when they graduate from Coe."

Coe, Cornell share Mellon grant for foreign language collaboration

Coe College has received a $50,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the development of a collaborative foreign language partnership with Cornell College. Over the next two years, the planning grant will provide resources for both colleges to collaborate with community partners and provide opportunities for students to apply what they have learned in the world language classroom to concrete issues in the Cedar Rapids and Mount Vernon area.

This civic humanities approach will give students opportunities beyond civic engagement, by infusing social, cultural and community-based topics into the curriculum and broader programs that world language departments at both colleges can provide for students.

Specific programs will include assisting area non-profits for Spanish- and French-speaking immigrants and refugees, and offering after-school programs in schools with fewer opportunities for learning world languages. In collaboration with Coe's new Center for Health and Society and Cornell's Dimensions program, it is also envisioned that students would be helping local hospitals and rural health care providers with training in languages and in cultural competencies. Under the program, the Coe and Cornell students will also help individuals and families strengthen their skills in their heritage language, particularly in terms of formal and written communication.

In the end, the program will allow Coe and Cornell students to develop closer ties between the international communities at the colleges and within the communities, by connecting the students and native speakers.

Other grant-funded activities will be introduced in the spring of 2018, when professors at Coe and Cornell will lead courses where curricular materials are shared, creating additional opportunities for students. The courses will include topics such as immigration, ethnic identity and challenges with integration. Further, a Summer Language and Society Institute will be held during the summer of 2018, where students from both colleges will develop practical, applied language skills.

Foreign language faculty from both colleges are enthused about the opportunities offered by the Mellon grant.

"We've already enjoyed working more closely with our terrific colleagues at Cornell, and our students will be energized by the real-world relevance of their language study," said Coe Associate Professor of German John Chaimov.

"We hope that this project pushes our faculty to rethink our teaching as we prepare our students to take the classroom into the community and bring the community into the classroom," said Cornell Professor of Languages John Gruber-Miller. "We also hope that the project motivates our students to achieve a deeper sensitivity to other cultures and to want to continue their study of languages."

In the longer term, the grant will facilitate bolder initiatives and transformative foreign language endeavors for the colleges. The goal is for both Coe and Cornell to explore novel, bold reforms in their foreign language programs that will appeal to and benefit future generations of students.

According to the chief academic officers from Coe and Cornell, this collaborative approach demonstrates how the two colleges can work together to create beneficial synergies.

"This Mellon planning grant, which will facilitate collaboration in our foreign language programs, is an example of how Coe and Cornell can identify ways to enhance our programs through cooperation and partnerships," said Coe Provost and Dean of the Faculty Paula O'Loughlin. "This approach will create opportunities for both Coe and Cornell to become stronger and allow each institution to better serve the needs of our students and the surrounding communities."

"This planning grant is a wonderful opportunity for faculty at Coe and Cornell to collaborate on programs that will benefit students at both colleges," said Cornell Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Joe Dieker. "I anticipate that this grant will be the stimulus for future cooperative academic ventures and synergies between these two fine colleges."

DeCeanne presents research at ceramic and glass conference

Anthony DeCeanne '18
Anthony DeCeanne '18

Coe College senior Anthony DeCeanne '18 recently presented his research in Hawaii at the 12th Pacific Rim Conference on Ceramic and Glass Technology (PACRIM 12), which included the Glass & Optical Materials Division meeting (GOMD). The GOMD awarded DeCeanne the third-place prize for his poster talk, "Producing Amorphous Tellurium Dioxide."

The Glass & Optical Materials Division competition included 20 researchers, which primarily consisted of graduate students, with only five undergraduate students, including DeCeanne. The technical program featured five symposia organized by scientific researchers, including Fundamentals of the Glassy State, Glasses in Healthcare, Optical and Electronic Materials and Devices, Glass Technology and Crosscutting Topics, and the Professor Jacques Lucas Honorary. Sessions consisting of oral and poster presentations were led by technical leaders from industry, national laboratories and academia.

A double major in physics and mathematics, DeCeanne found his way to Coe through the college's scholarship weekend, where he had an unplanned conversation with B.D. Silliman Professor of Physics Steve Feller.

"It was Dr. Feller's selling point from the beginning that at Coe, I would receive opportunities that I wouldn't have had at a larger university," said DeCeanne. "I would have never had the opportunity to present in Hawaii if it wasn't for the work I've done at Coe, and it has opened many opportunities for me."

DeCeanne's research involved producing bulk amounts of amorphous tellurium dioxide. His goal was to understand more about why tellurium behaves the way it does, and duplicate a process that Feller had previously seen in Greece. Tellurium is a conditional glass former, and only easily forms glass if other components are added to it. Therefore, DeCeanne used water-quenching to duplicate the process and improve upon it. He was able to produce enough glass to characterize it through various spectroscopies, such as Raman spectroscopy and differential scanning calorimetry.

"The researchers at the conference were pleased with the work I presented, because it was something rare and unique." said DeCeanne.

As his faculty supervisor for the research, Feller noted that DeCeanne had all of the characteristics to ensure success.

"Anthony is a wonderful and tenacious researcher," said Feller. "He was exactly the right person to lead this research."

This summer, DeCeanne had an internship at the Corning Glass Company in Corning, New York, through the Stookey Fellowship program. The Stookey Fellowship – named in honor of Coe alumnus and legendary glass researcher Donald Stookey '36 – has been awarded to one Coe physics student each summer for the past decade.

At Corning, DeCeanne worked on glass-ceramics, a material comprised of both glass and crystal, which gives it unique properties. While at Corning, DeCeanne also tried to open up opportunities for Coe students studying biology and chemistry, because of the work Corning does outside of glass. In the future, he is hopeful that Corning can provide more Coe students with the same rewarding internship opportunities that he has experienced this summer.

After he earns his bachelor's degree at Coe next May, DeCeanne plans to enroll in graduate school. Currently, he is in the process of searching for a graduate program and is leaning toward materials engineering. DeCeanne's career goal is to work in industry, possibly at Corning Inc.

The Glass & Optical Materials Division of the American Ceramic Society focuses on the scientific research and development, application and manufacture of all types of glass, including fiber optics, the encapsulation of nuclear and hazardous wastes in glasses, and the interaction of glass and ceramics in biosystems. Members of this division work with glasses in the optical, aerospace, window and electronic industries among others.

CoeBRAI completes 13th straight Iowa bike tour

Members of Team CoeBRAI gather for a photo after dipping their tires in the Mississippi River at Lansing following a 411-mile bicycling journey across Iowa.
Members of Team CoeBRAI gather for a photo after dipping their tires in the Mississippi River at Lansing following a 411-mile bicycling journey across Iowa.


The 45th edition of the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) was marked by cooler than usual temperatures, little rain and plenty of hills during a seven-day journey across northern Iowa.

The world's oldest, largest and longest bicycle touring event began in Orange City on July 23 and ended 411 miles later in Lansing on July 29. Along the way, riders camped overnight in Spencer, Algona, Clear Lake, Charles City, Cresco and Waukon while climbing 2.5 miles of hills, mostly on the final day.

For the 13th-straight year, Coe College was represented on the cross-state journey. Team CoeBRAI was composed of 21 cyclists this year, including 12 men and nine women. The team averaged 52 years of age and ranged from 35 to 65.

CoeBRAI cyclists again honored the memory of Psychology Professor Dan Lehn, who was killed was riding his recumbent bicycle in July 2016. A "Mile of Silence" dedicated to the memory of those who have been injured or killed while riding bicycles was observed during the first day of RAGBRAI.

Eleven members of the team went the extra mile – 30 in fact – earning patches for completing the Karras Loop on July 24 for more than 100 miles of cycling in a single day.

Team CoeBRAI included eight alumni with class years ranging from 1973 (RAGBRAI rookie Bob McDonnell of Austin, Texas) to 1995 (Coe roommates and CoeBRAI veterans Amy Wiezorek Schork of Vineyard, Utah, and Jennifer Bassett Wadle of Knoxville, Iowa). Sixteen of the riders had participated in CoeBRAI before. In addition to 14 Iowans, riders hailed from Texas, Utah, Virginia, Oregon, Missouri, Illinois and New York.

Providing support again this year were Coe Sports Information Director Ryan Workman and Lisa Zingula, the wife of Team CoeBRAI captain (and Courier editor) Lonnie Zingula. New to the support crew this year was newly named Head Women's Basketball Coach Kayla Waskow '13 with Coe parent Rich Schramm helping to close out the week.

Gracious overnight hosts included Josh Tacke '06 in Sioux Center (about 10 miles from the start in Orange City), Tarrel Zweibahmer Storey '93 in Spencer, Coe parents Robin and Dan Macomber in Charles City and Joy Peckham in Cresco, and Brad Herman '75 in Waukon. The team also camped at a golf course in Algona and a state park in Clear Lake.

Click here for photos from CoeBRAI 2017.

RAGBRAI XLVI (and CoeBRAI XIV) is scheduled for July 22-28, 2018. Online registration begins Nov. 15. To participate with Team CoeBRAI, contact Lonnie Zingula at or 319-399-8613.

Family Weekend

We encourage everyone to take part in the fun-filled Family Weekend experience on Sept. 22-24. Family Weekend at Coe College is a time for family members to gather and discover more about their student's life at Coe while participating in various activities. Take a look inside Coe College, its beautiful buildings and scenic campus, as well as the academic life, resources, research and opportunities that shape your student's college experience.

Click here to see the schedule of events, view hotel information and register today. Registration is due by Friday, Sept. 1. If you have questions please call Nanci Young, Parent Programs at 319-399-8581.

Johnson Reunion Tour update

After stops in Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Des Moines, Chicagoland and New York City, the Jean Johnson Reunion Tour ended Tuesday in Washington, D.C. After 28 years as alumni director, Johnson is retiring on Sept. 5.

A final celebration of Johnson's retirement will be held during Homecoming on Oct. 13 at the All-Alumni Celebration Under the Big Top. Johnson has also been named grand marshal of this year's Homecoming parade.

Watch a good-bye message from Johnson below.

Marquis Series features something for everyone

The 2017-18 Coe College Marquis Series features a classic silent film with live accompaniment, an intersection between history and art, and a popular a cappella group of young Filipino-American singers. The series will also feature an acclaimed cartoonist and humorist, and a film festival focused on unique people and places in rural America.

This year's programming opens with Alloy Orchestra, a three-man musical ensemble, writing and performing live accompaniment to classic silent films. At Coe, Alloy will perform a new score to accompany "The Lost World," the earliest known example of stop-motion animation. Historical and political artist Dread Scott creates revolutionary art to propel history forward, working in a range of media including installation, photography, screen printing, video and performance. In "Imagine a World Without America," Scott will explore themes including American democracy's roots in slavery and how that sets the stage for our present, the criminalization of Black and Latino youth, and the continuum connecting the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s to contemporary Black Lives Matter resistance.

The Filharmonic is a Los Angeles-based a cappella group of young Filipino-American singers who were featured in NBC's hit musical competition, "The Sing-Off." The group brings their unique blend of hip hop, pop and '90s nostalgia to more than 150 college stages nationwide each year. Humorist Lynda Barry has worked as a painter, cartoonist, writer, illustrator, playwright, editor, commentator and teacher, and found that they are very much alike. The New York Times has described Barry as "among this country's greatest conjoiners of words and images, known for plumbing all kinds of touchy subjects in cartoons, comic strips and novels, both graphic and illustrated."

The Rural Route Film Festival was co-founded by Alan Webber '98, a Coe alumnus originally from Elkader, Iowa. The Rural Route Film Festival was created to highlight works that deal with unique people and places outside of the bustle of the city. Since 2002, the Rural Route Film Festival has been centered in New York City, where both founders (originally from Iowa) met working in the film industry.

Marquis Series patrons can purchase individual tickets for $15 for the general public, $10 for students and seniors. Tickets may be purchased online at or by calling the Cox Box Office at 319-399-8600, Monday – Friday, between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Please note that tickets for The Rural Route Film Festival will only be available at the door.

More detailed information on this year's Marquis Series events includes:

Alloy Orchestra
"The Lost World"
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
7:30 p.m. – Sinclair Auditorium
Alloy Orchestra is a three-man musical ensemble, writing and performing live accompaniment to classic silent films. Working with an outrageous collection of peculiar objects, they thrash and grind soulful music from unlikely sources. Performing at prestigious film festivals and cultural centers in the U.S. and abroad, Alloy has helped revive some of the great masterpieces of the silent era. Utilizing their famous "rack of junk" and electronic synthesizers, the group generates everything from beautiful music in a spectacular variety of styles to any sound imaginable. At Coe, Alloy will perform a new score to accompany "The Lost World," the earliest known example of stop-motion animation. The movie features dinosaurs and other exotic creatures.

Dread Scott – historical/political artist
"Imagine a World Without America"
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
7:30 p.m. – Dows Theatre
Dread Scott creates revolutionary art to propel history forward, working in a range of media including installation, photography, screen printing, video and performance. Scott first received national attention in 1989 when his art became the center of controversy over his use of the American flag while he was a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. President George H.W. Bush called his art "disgraceful" and the entire U.S. Senate denounced his work and outlawed it when they passed legislation to "protect the flag." In "Imagine a World Without America," Scott will explore themes including American democracy's roots in slavery and how that sets the stage for our present, the criminalization of Black and Latino youth, and the continuum connecting the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s to contemporary Black Lives Matter resistance. In the end, he imagines a world free of oppression and exploitation.

The Filharmonic – a cappella group
Saturday, February 3, 2018
7:30 p.m. – Sinclair Auditorium
The Filharmonic is a Los Angeles-based a cappella group of young Filipino-American singers who were featured in NBC's hit musical competition, "The Sing-Off." The five-piece vocal group joined "The Sing-Off" national tour and was featured in the Universal Pictures hit movie, "Pitch Perfect 2." After appearing on "The Late Late Show," the vocalists went viral. The group brings their unique blend of hip hop, pop and '90s nostalgia to more than 150 college stages nationwide each year.

Lynda Barry – cartoonist, humorist
Friday, March 23, 2018
7:30 p.m. – Sinclair Auditorium
Lynda Barry has worked as a painter, cartoonist, writer, illustrator, playwright, editor, commentator and teacher, and found that they are very much alike. In 1979, Barry began drawing a weekly comic strip incorporating stories considered to be incompatible with comics at the time. She has been credited with expanding the literary, thematic and emotional range of comics. Her comic strip, "Ernie Pook's Comeek," ran in alternative newspapers across North America for 30 years. Barry has also authored 21 books, worked as a commentator for NPR, and had a regular monthly feature in Esquire, Mother Jones, Mademoiselle and Salon. The New York Times has described Barry as "among this country's greatest conjoiners of words and images, known for plumbing all kinds of touchy subjects in cartoons, comic strips and novels, both graphic and illustrated."

Rural Route Film Festival
curated by Alan Webber
Thursday, April 19, 2018
7:30 p.m. – CSPS, 1103 3rd St SE, Cedar Rapids
A native of Elkader, Iowa, Alan Webber started making VHS movies at an early age. After graduating from Coe in 1998, Webber earned his master's from New School University in New York City while apprenticing under renowned indie director Hal Hartley. Webber's short films include: "Day is Done," "Hawkeye Fever" and "Adventures of the Brooklyn Hipster Superhero" along with narrative music videos for the rock bands Japanther, Federation-X, The Silver Jews and Akron/Family. The Rural Route Film Festival was created to highlight works that deal with unique people and places outside of the bustle of the city. Since 2002, the Rural Route Film Festival has been centered in New York City, where both founders (originally from Iowa) met working in the film industry. Please note that tickets for this performance will only be available at the door.

The Coe College Lecture and Performance Series is funded in part by a gift from the estate of Sarah Marquis in honor of her father, Dr. John A. Marquis, who was president of Coe College from 1909-1920. The purpose of the series is to bring entertainment and educational experiences to the Coe campus for the benefit of the entire community.

Thursday Forum opens with a discussion of Greece and the Persian Wars

Angela Ziskowski
Angela Ziskowski
Assistant Professor of History

Greece and the Persian Wars: The Good, The Bad, and The "Other" will be spotlighted in the first Coe College Thursday Forum series of the academic year, Sept. 7, 14, 21 and 28. Assistant Professor of History Angela Ziskowski will present a historical, archaeological and art historical introduction to the Greco-Persian wars and their aftermath.

Thursday Forum lectures are held in Kesler Lecture Hall in Hickok Hall on the Coe campus. Each session begins with registration and refreshments from 8:45-9:15 a.m., followed by the class until 11:30 a.m. An optional luncheon is offered at the conclusion of each series.

Greece went to war with the Persian empire in 490 BCE and many believe this event fundamentally changed the course of western civilization. The small, divided city-states of Greece succeeded in holding back the forces of the massive Persian empire and by 479 BCE, the war was over and Greece was the victor. The aftermath of this event had far-reaching repercussions on the cultural identity of Greece.

On the positive side, the fifth century BCE is a period in which democracy blossomed and art and architecture reached new heights. However, there was a dark side to this cultural prosperity. The city-state of Athens turned into an oppressive imperial power over the rest of Greece while also demonizing the people and cultures from further east. If you were not Greek, you were the "other." For better or worse, "Classical" Greek culture was defined in the period after the Persian Wars. Its lasting impact on western society remains profound, if muddled.

Coe College Thursday Forum courses are open to all adults. Admission to the entire four-week course can be purchased for $35 on the first day or in advance. Admission to individual lectures is $12 per week. The closing luncheons cost an additional $8. Payment can be made in person on Thursday mornings by cash or personal check. Credit card payments can be processed online only. For more information about paying by credit card or directly from your checking account, or to order gift certificates, call (319) 399-8623.

For the remainder of the 2017-18 academic year, the Thursday Forum schedule includes:

  • "The Idea of Kingship" – Oct. 5, 12, 19, 26
  • "The Scientific Revolution and the Renaissance" – Nov. 2, 9, 16, 30
  • "Diversity in Dance: The Dieman-Bennett Dance Studio in Cedar Rapids" – Dec. 7
  • "Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre - Behind the Scenes with ‘Turandot'" – Jan. 18
  • "A New Arsenal: American Art during World War I" – Feb. 1, 8, 15, 22
  • "Two Scenically Beautiful Hikes in the English Countryside" - March 1
  • "Songs of Protest and Resistance" - March 8, 15, 22, 29
  • "Saints, Sinners and Secularists: Religion and Politics on the World Stage" - April 5, 12, 19, 26

For a complete list of upcoming events at Coe, click here.