E-News - March 3, 2023

Coe College E-News — Updates and information for alumni, parents and friends of Coe

Bob Kendrick headlines Coe's 19th Contemporary Issues Forum

Coe was honored to host Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, at this year's Contemporary Issues Forum on February 28. As a leading authority on the history of African American baseball, he gave an engaging talk about how his passion intersects with important issues of sports, race and diversity. Check out the video to see highlights from Bob Kendrick's speech and read more about the event in the upcoming issue of the Courier.

Coe partners with NewBoCo to host fifth annual Kohawk Startup event

16 Kohawks spent a high-energy weekend coming up with innovative entrepreneurship ideas, and learning a lot along the way. Students and mentors alike continue to find value in the hands-on experience Kohawk Startup provides, and check out the video to hear their takeaways. Thank you to the alumni and community partners who generously participated as mentors and judges: Anthony Arrington, Lawrence Bryant, Gregory Butz '92, Nick Dodds, Jon Fowles '08, Associate Professor of Nursing Sharon Guthrie, Destiny Hastings '98, Rose Hedges, Julie Lammers, Nick Ludwig '11, Aaron Parry '94, Liz Rodgers '87, Steve Shriver, Greg Swartzendruber '98, Jordan Taylor '11, Alex Taylor, Laura Taylor, David Tominsky '98, Stacey Teltser '15 and Kevin Welu '86.

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#KohawkDay is April 6

It's that time of year again! Coe College's Day of Giving (#KohawkDay) is Thursday April 6, 2023. We are coming in hot for our ninth year and are so fired up as we get ready to reveal challenges, prizes, events and more! This year our theme is "I am Coe. You are Coe. We are Coe." Watch your emails and social media for details to be revealed! Busy that day? Feel free to make an early gift.

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Bill Schmarzo shares the big deal with big data

Gathering information and learning how to apply it not only describes the liberal arts education students experience each day. It also captures the mission of the ever-growing data science field, as well as Coe’s pursuit to serve as a valuable resource for alumni and community partners. These came together on February 18 when the “Dean of Big Data,” Bill Schmarzo ’79 visited campus.

Schmarzo has been a big name in the world of data for over 30 years. He currently serves on Dell Technology’s core data management leadership team and holds academic appointments at several colleges and universities. He has received innumerable recognitions for his influential contributions and leadership in big data, including the Coe College Alumni Award of Merit in 2019. This month, he brought his expertise back to Coe by hosting a talk and exclusive workshop to help diverse stakeholders grapple with concepts around data science.

Centered around the concept of thinking like a data scientist, Schmarzo’s lecture presented a broad overview, and the follow-up workshop walked people through the first several steps of his eight-step design thinking process. Around 60 attendees included Coe students, faculty, staff, alumni and representatives from Cedar Rapids companies. These organizations included Alliant Energy, Collins Aerospace, GreatAmerica Financial Services, TrueNorth, Transamerica, United Fire Group Insurance and Van Meter. A handful of attendees even participated virtually as the lecture was Zoomed live.

“It was an incredibly successful event,” said Associate Vice President for Advancement Barb Tupper ’89. “We are excited at the response of our campus and community partners to participate in this event. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and proved a need for this type of collaborative programming in our community. We look forward to additional conversations with the companies involved to continue to bring innovative learning such as this to them and to other industries as well."

Not only did this event share Bill’s expertise and allow companies the opportunity of a real-time workshop, it also highlighted one of Coe’s fairly new academic focuses, the interdisciplinary data science major. Processing, analyzing and presenting meaningful findings from data can be applied to any number of fields, as Schmarzo well understands. In collaboration with Assistant Professor of Data Science Michael Stobb and Associate Professor of Stead Department of Business Administration and Economics Ryan Baranowski ’08, Schmarzo’s time on campus was an incredible opportunity for students to learn from one of the field’s leading authorities.

What you see here — it's even better in person. Our March 25 Kohawk Spirit Day is built for those whose competitive fire will carry over to college. Future Kohawks can sign up online to see for themselves.

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Courier Class Notes deadline April 1

Do you have news you would like printed in the summer Courier? Send us your submission by April 1 using the Update Your Info form or by sending an email to courier@coe.edu.

The winter edition of the Courier will be coming soon! Keep an eye on your inbox for this digital issue.

Gina Hausknecht

Coe College receives grant for Prison Learning Initiative

Coe College has received a $15,350 Institutionalizing Community-Based Pedagogies grant from the Associated Colleges of the Midwest. The grant will support the creation of a new Prison Learning Initiative (PLI) at Coe which will provide a range of high-impact experiences for students and community members to learn about and become involved with the criminal legal system in Iowa and the Midwest.

The Prison Learning Initiative will expand existing efforts on campus to engage in community-based research and teaching related to the criminal legal system. Coe faculty and students will support incarcerated people and returning citizens through community-based research projects, service learning and volunteer opportunities. The Initiative also provides the necessary infrastructure at Coe to begin partnering with the Iowa Consortium for Higher Education in Prison. 

The project is led by Social and Criminal Justice Professor and program chair Neal McNabb, Sociology Professor Katie Rodgers '03 and John William King Professor of Literature and Creative Writing Gina Hausknecht.

The Prison Learning Initiative will extend the reach of Coe’s popular and growing social and criminal justice program and, among Coe students, build on the strong interest in mass incarceration. It capitalizes on the college’s strategic geographic location in Cedar Rapids, the administrative home of Iowa’s Sixth Judicial District Department of Correctional Services, with its many opportunities for engagement with social services, community corrections and the Iowa judicial system. 

To allow Coe students and incarcerated students to learn together, PLI will support letter-writing exchanges through Exchange for Change, a Florida-based non-profit organization. Students at Coe and in Florida prisons take courses with common reading and exchange letters about the course material. Coe participated in Exchange for Change last year for the first time. 

“I thought Exchange for Change was an amazing experience and would definitely recommend it to other Coe students. I found it enriching to discuss books with people who had sometimes been through similar experiences or situations. I wouldn't have been able to hear from these perspectives by only discussing the books in class. Overall, I thought it was a great opportunity to engage in a project that impacted the community outside of the classroom. Plus, it was really fun to get to know my pen pals,” said Sarah Hyatt '24, who participated in the initial letter exchange opportunity. 

The Prison Learning Initiative will sponsor a number of events available to the public over the coming year. Among them is a campus and community book drive for Midwest Books to Prisoners, which sends books to incarcerated readers who have requested specific titles or areas of interest. After collecting books on campus and in the greater Cedar Rapids area, students will travel to Chicago to volunteer for a day at the distribution center, fulfilling requests incarcerated people have submitted. 

“Volunteering with Midwest Books to Prisoners has been an eye-opening experience. I have learned so much about the process and work that goes into shipping books to incarcerated individuals at different correctional facilities. I think the organization’s purpose is amazing, and it’s heartwarming to see a community come together and make a difference,” said Ashley Conde '24, who worked with the organization last year. 

Emphasizing active, hands-on learning, PLI will host a Reentry Simulation on April 12, from 6-8 p.m. in Eby Fieldhouse. This free simulation is designed to allow participants to gain an understanding of the obstacles incarcerated individuals face upon release from jail or prison. By “living the life” of someone reentering the community after incarceration, participants experience first-hand the barriers and challenges encountered by returning citizens on a daily basis. 

“It was very eye-opening to witness the way participants struggled to make ends meet with the time and money given to them. Witnessing the distress that participants were in made me more empathetic towards people reentering society,” said Coraima Camacho '23, who was a volunteer in last year’s simulation. 

Other activities include an ArtLinks event, in partnership with the Justice Arts Coalition, during which participants view and discuss work by incarcerated artists and then write brief notes to the artists. Additionally, in April, Coe will host the annual Iowa Human Rights Research Conference which provides a venue for college and university students across the state to present their research. 

“This generation gets criticized for being online all the time but our students are out in the community, passionate about how they can contribute. They’re volunteering at RISE (Cedar Rapids’ reentry organization), interning with the Sixth Judicial District, going on to vibrant careers in law, law enforcement, social services,” Hausknecht says. “It’s enormously helpful to have resources and coordination to support their community engagement.”

Written by John William King Professor of Literature and Creative Writing Gina Hausknecht.

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The Kohawk Shop has a new website!

Was your favorite Coe sweatshirt looking run down the last time you took it out of the wash? Do you want to rep your alma mater with every coffee you brew? Would your house look better with a little more Kohawk spirit? You can now shop the Kohawk Shop even when you're not on campus! Their new website shows you the latest deals and items so you can stock up on apparel, drinkware, decor and more, just one click away.

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Upcoming & Virtual Events

The spring term is moving fast, and many upcoming events are available for the Coe alumni community to get involved. Here are just a few to put on your calendar for the coming months:

March 23 — Coe College comes to St. Louis — Kohawks are invited to an alumni gathering to share your Coe stories with friends old and new, grab some Kohawk swag and enjoy food and drink. The event will take place from 1-3PM at Urban Chestnut Brewing Company in St. Louis.

April 6 — #KohawkDay — Join in with the entire Coe community in this annual Day of Giving by providing a gift to the college, attending celebrations and taking part on social media.

May 3 — Estate Planning Seminar — Plan for your future with a free seminar and complimentary lunch co-hosted by Coe College and First Presbyterian Church, and have your questions answered by an attorney. The event will take place from 11:30AM-1PM at the Hilton Garden Inn in Cedar Rapids. Details and registration information to follow.

May 7 — Commencement — Celebrate the Class of 2023 as they join the alumni family!

As you may remember from your own time as a Coe student, campus is always bustling. Keep an eye on the Coe calendar to make sure you don't miss anything you're interested in, and remember that many music events and athletic home games can be streamed from the comfort of your home.