Acclaimed author Viet Thanh Nguyen leads Coe’s 18th Contemporary Issues Forum
Coe was honored to host Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen at this year’s Contemporary Issues Forum on February 16. He gave an engaging and thought-provoking talk about his experiences as a refugee and a Vietnamese-American and how those experiences have shaped his life, his memories and his writing. Check out the video to see highlights from Viet Thanh Nguyen’s speech and read more about the event in the upcoming spring issue of the Courier.
Center for Health and Society construction update
Exciting progress is being made on the David and Janice McInally Center for Health and Society (CHS). Construction crews recently finished installing the steel structure of the building, including the beam from the September steel signing ceremony. Stay tuned for more updates about the construction progress as the facility continues to take shape.
If you have not had a chance to contribute to the CHS and would like to do so, please visit www.alumni.coe.edu/centerforhealthandsociety or call Barb Tupper at 319.399.8662.
Henry Tippie supported Coe like he was an alum
Coe mourns the passing of Henry Tippie, a friend and benefactor of the college who passed away on February 20.
Henry’s contributions to Coe were numerous, and while not an alumnus of Coe, he and his wife, Patricia, supported the college as if they were.
The Tippies' connection to Coe began with Henry, who first was introduced to the college in 1944 when he enlisted in the Army Specialized Training Reserve Program (ASTRP) at age 17. He received his initial military training and introductory college coursework on Coe's campus, bunking with about 200 other cadets in the basement of Eby Fieldhouse. Henry found his experience in the ASTRP to be beneficial, believing it gave him and other participants the opportunity to achieve greater things in life than they might have otherwise. His gratitude for the program persisted throughout his life and led him to organize a reunion of his fellow cadets. A plaque in Coe’s Athletics and Recreation Complex commemorates these cadets and their service to our country.
Being a part of ASTRP also cultivated a fondness for Coe and a desire to give back to the school, with gifts to Coe totaling more than $1 million. In 2002, Henry and Pat established the President's Special Assistance Fund to provide financial support for students in need. In 2012, they made a gift to create the Henry B. Tippie Professorship in Business and Economics. Most recently, the Tippies contributed financial support for the David and Janice McInally Center for Health and Society (CHS). The CHS will create dedicated advising and preparation space for students in all majors who want to work in health care and impact the well-being of others. It is slated to open this fall.
“Coe is one of many institutions in Iowa that remain grateful to the Tippies for their investments to ensure our students have opportunities to grow. Although his time at Coe was limited to his military service, his impact was beyond measure. Our condolences to Pat and family during this difficult and sad hour,” said Coe College President David Hayes ’93.
To acknowledge their generosity, the Tippies have been recipients of numerous philanthropic recognitions that Coe helped to initiate.
Along with the University of Iowa Center for Advancement and the Kirkwood Foundation, Coe nominated Henry and Patricia for the Outstanding Individual Philanthropist Award through the Eastern Iowa Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in 2018.
Then, in 2021, the Tippies were jointly nominated by Coe President Emeritus David McInally and Allegheny College president Hilary L. Link to receive the Award for Philanthropy from the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC). The Tippies also generously supported Allegheny College, which is Patricia’s alma mater, and which is where McInally served as dean of students, secretary of the college and vice president for finance and planning prior to coming to Coe in 2013.
Remembering Kohawk and NBA coach Bill Fitch
The Coe alumni family and the basketball world lost a legend with the passing of former NBA coach and Coe Athletic Hall of Famer Bill Fitch ’54 on February 2.
Fitch played basketball at Coe and later returned as a coach for the Kohawks. At the collegiate level, he also coached at University of North Dakota, Bowling Green State University and University of Minnesota before moving on to a 25-year NBA career. He was the first head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers and went on to coach the Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, New Jersey Nets and Los Angeles Clippers. He led the Celtics to an NBA Championship win, earned two Coach of the Year titles and holds a place in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, among many other honors and achievements. Read his full obituary here.
#KohawkDay is April 7
Mark your calendars! Coe's annual Day of Giving is Thursday, April 7, and there are many ways you can get involved on this exciting day.
- Make a gift. (Busy on April 7? Make your gift early and it will count toward goals and challenges on #KohawkDay.)
- Sign up to be a Challenge Leader.
- Track our progress throughout the day.
- Follow along on social media and share your Kohawk pride.
Watch your email and visit www.alumni.coe.edu/kohawkday for unfolding details as the big day approaches!
We love to see our Kohawks making headlines for their accomplishments and contributions to their communities. Check out these alumni who recently made the news.
- Seven Coe alumni made the Corridor Business Journal’s Corridor Leaders 250 list: Cristiane Daoud AbouAssaly ’00, Coe Trustee Jack Evans ’70, Coe President David Hayes ’93, Cari Novak McCoy ’08, Sean Pearl ’04, David Tominsky ’98 and Landis Wiley ’07. Congratulations, Kohawks!
- Liz Graznak ’98, owner of Happy Hollow Farm in Missouri, was appointed to the environmental protection and resource conservation seat of the National Organic Standards Board by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. Graznak will serve a five-year term on the board.
- Leah Reuber ’11 was named the new director of residential life at Kenyon College.
- Casey TeBockhorst Peck ’97 was featured in a HER Women of Achievement spotlight in The Gazette. Peck was a 2021 Women of Achievement honoree.
How a road trip and a text from a professor led one Kohawk to a Gilman Scholarship
A college road trip doesn’t typically lead to a major scholarship, but the road traveled by Faith Zeonweh ’23 has hardly been typical. For Zeonweh, an immigrant from the Ivory Coast at the age of 2, an unforgettable three weeks on the road over the summer of 2021 with a fellow Kohawk was the catalyst to pursue a Gilman Scholarship.
The highly competitive Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship is sponsored by the United States Department of State and enables students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad.
In December, Zeonweh found out she earned a $5,000 Gilman Scholarship, which is the maximum amount, to travel to Japan this fall. Even though only about 25% of applicants earn a scholarship nationwide, Coe has more than a 70% success rate recently, with Zeonweh being Coe’s fifth Gilman winner in the last five years.
However, Zeonweh’s journey to the Gilman began further in the past than the trip she took across the South, into the Rockies and back across the plains this past summer.
Zeonweh arrived in the United States with her mother and sister, fleeing civil war in her home country. The family initially settled in the Northeast, then moved to Atlanta. Her interest in other cultures blossomed there, including an affinity for Japan as she even tried to teach herself Japanese.
“I was always having different experiences and meeting new people and immersing myself into different cultures. It was nice, actually, and it was always interesting,” Zeonweh said. “I learned a lot about myself and other people.”
One more move — this time to Cedar Rapids — was in store. Zeonweh’s family moved to be closer to her aunt, which is when she learned about Coe’s extensive off-campus study program. With 40% of Kohawks participating in Coe’s 40-plus off-campus study programs, Zeonweh knew she found a home at Coe.
“I took a look at Coe and specifically its study abroad and psychology programs. I really felt like the growth and development in one place would be best for me,” she said.
At Coe, Zeonweh is an international studies and psychology major, and she is taking formal Japanese classes for the first time while being active in the orchestra and International Club. Chair for the Foreign Language Department and Director of Off-Campus Study John Chaimov introduced Zeonweh to international studies and helped identify career prospects and study abroad opportunities.
“Faith is extremely funny, quick-witted and high-energy,” Chaimov said. “With feet in two cultures, Zeonweh has developed high cultural curiosity.”
Returning to campus this fall after her road trip, Zeonweh was reinvigorated by the prospect of traveling and began pursuing the Gilman Scholarship, which requires a compelling statement of purpose and a proposal for a follow-up project. Chaimov and her advisor, Assistant Professor of Psychology Samantha Brown, offered guidance and encouragement. The Coe Writing Center provided valuable feedback on the required statement and essays. But there still was lingering uncertainty about her ability to travel abroad, and Zeonweh let the deadline pass.
That’s when good fortune and one quick text message had an enormous impact.
“John [Chaimov] texted me at work that the deadline was extended. I was greeting customers, and I knew that was the sign I needed,” Zeonweh said.
This time Zeonweh turned in the application. Weeks went by, and she had convinced herself she hadn’t received an award, until an email caught her eye while she was studying in the library.
“I was really nervous when I saw the big congratulations in the subject line — I was like ‘No way!’ I started telling everyone. I had to go back and look at the amount, and I was shocked I got the max amount,” Zeonweh said. “Everyone around me was wondering what just happened!”
Zeonweh credits the multitude of experiences she’s had, which she relayed in her essays, for receiving the maximum amount.
“My identity as an American started by being sworn in as an immigrant and Black woman. All my experiences have formed me into a unique, prideful individual,” Zeonweh explained.
She told the Gilman committee she wanted to go to a place where there were not a lot of people like her and that she would lean on her characteristics and experiences to learn about other cultures through that lens.
Zeonweh is set to depart for Japan this fall to study at a partner school in Nagoya. She will be documenting her experiences via TikTok.
“I’m super grateful. If I can do it, anyone else can do it, so just believe in yourself,” Zeonweh said.
Founders’ Medal to be awarded this summer
Coe soon will recognize three of its finest with the college’s highest honor, the Founders’ Medal. Trustees Jack Evans ’70, Vince Martin and Bill Johnson ’53 will be honored in an on-campus ceremony early this summer.
The Founders' Medal was proposed in 1974 by President Leo Nussbaum (1970-82) and is given by the Trustees of Coe College to persons of rare and exceptional distinction. Persons so honored should be distinguished nationally or internationally in their fields of accomplishment, in service to Coe College or exemplify in extraordinary degree those qualities of a liberally educated person.
Evans, Martin and Johnson will join nine previous Founders’ Medal recipients: Paul Engle ’31 and William Shirer ’25 in 1976; F. Gaynor Evans ’31 and S. Donald Stookey ’36 in 1980; Don Ebinger ’47, Russell Knapp ’30 and William Whipple ’35 in 2001; Marv Levy ’50 in 2017; and Bruce Spivey ’56 in 2018.
More details about the event will be shared in the coming weeks.
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Coe alumna making a mark on the pioneering field of behavioral economics
If you ask Ashley Robins ’21 to summarize what she’s studying in graduate school, you’ll probably hear her say, “I study the human, not the robot.” Robins is pursuing a master’s degree in behavioral economics at Cornell University after gaining a deep appreciation of the highly specialized field at Coe.
The business administration, political science and economics triple major was influenced to pursue behavioral economics because of professors like Associate Professor of Economics Drew Westberg ’05. Robins said she valued his transparency because in addition to teaching students research models, he took the time to ensure students understood the issues with following a model.
“He would say it’s a model, but it doesn’t really capture a human. It captures a robot that we made in our head,” she added.
Behavioral economics is a method of economic analysis that takes into account human behavior to explain decision making. Robins’ goal is to apply her education toward creating more inclusive, equitable and effective policies. Her advisor, Joan & Abbott Lipsky Professor of Political Science Kimberly Lanegran, led her toward the opportunities available in policy work.
“She made me realize how effective it was and how [policy] impacts everyone, even if they don’t want it to,” Robins said.
“I was always a bit frustrated because in economics you assume people are rational and make choices in their best interest and they know all the information. But in real life, it’s not accurate. People don’t do things that are good for them a lot of times. I want to benefit the community that I live and work in, and I think the best way to do that is through policy,” she added.
Robins’ graduate program involves courses on quantitative research methods, consumer psychology and advertising strategy. In place of a standard thesis, she will do a complete marketing analysis of the insurance company Pacific Life as part of a research seminar course.
Her time at Coe was an essential experience to build a great foundation for her studies at one of the few behavioral economics graduate programs available in the country.
“I definitely came [to Cornell University] with a bit of an advantage … Not a lot of people are able to triple major at any school, and even fewer people are literally able to text their professors asking for help. I think Coe’s small-sized programs and its emphasis on good teacher-student connections really helped me. I don’t think I would have gotten that at a larger university,” she said.
Coe professors like Westberg and Lanegran are known for mentoring students during and after their time on campus. In addition to being internationally recognized scholars in their field, Coe faculty connect with students in a very personal way that empowers students to make things happen. Robins might be navigating the new world of behavioral economics, but she will always be only one text away from help she trusts.
Coe RAGBRAI gear now available
Kohawk RAGBRAI riders, show your Coe pride while cycling across Iowa! Coe bike jerseys are on sale now through the KoGo Marketplace & Spirit Store. Orders must be placed by April 14.
Courier Class Notes deadline March 15
Do you have news you would like printed in the Summer Courier? Send us your submission by March 15 using the Update Your Info form or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Physics Reunion set for June 23-26
Coe physics alumni are invited back to campus this summer for a long-awaited reunion! Reconnect with your classmates, favorite faculty members and current students, and hear about the latest happenings in the Physics Department. The weekend will be full of presentations, discussions, food and fun. Go to www.alumni.coe.edu/physicsreunion2022 for more info and registration.
Important Dates and Upcoming Events
March 14 and 15 — Externship Networking Events — The Office of Alumni Engagement and C3: Creativity, Careers, Community will be holding two networking events in the Cedar Rapids area during the annual Externship for current Coe students. Local alumni are encouraged to come out and meet some current Kohawks, share about their career paths and highlight the benefits of living and working in the corridor!
March 26 — New Beginnings...Familiar Faces: Dallas — Kohawks in the Dallas area are invited to a gathering with President David Hayes ’93 and other Coe staff. Join fellow alumni at Winewood Grill on March 26 from 4:30-7:00 PM. Heavy hors d’oeuvres and complimentary drinks will be provided.
Hell for Christians: Justice after Death from the Bible to Dante
Thursday, February 29, 2024
8:45 AM - 11:30 AM
This four-week forum examines what hell looks like in the Christian tradition and how Christians conceive of ultimate justice and punishment.
Guided Meditation with Jodi
Thursday, February 29, 2024
11:30 AM - 12:15 PM
Gage Memorial Union
Health & Wellness
Join Jodi for 45 minutes of free, guided meditation every Thursday from 11:30 am - 12:15 pm!
Phifer History Speaker
Thursday, February 29, 2024
7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
The Coe College History Department proudly welcomes Dr. Walter Greason, DeWitt Wallace Professor of History at Macalester College, presenting on "Historical Thinking and Democratic Citizenship."