Coe continues enrollment surge
An uncompromising focus on academic excellence and strategic initiatives propelled Coe’s most recent success — back-to-back record classes and the largest student body in its history.
In a climate where many residential liberal arts colleges are experiencing flat or declining enrollment, Coe continues to transcend among its peers. The 2018-19 school year begets 445 new students, second only to 2017 with 446.
As final totals were calculated, Coe had amassed the single largest degree-seeking student body since its inception in 1851. With 29.4 percent students of color or international origin, this also marks the second most diverse class in Coe’s history.
“The higher education landscape for recruitment is at its most challenging,” said Vice President for Admission & Marketing Julie Staker ’93. “Since the fall of 2013, Coe has enrolled the six largest full-time student bodies in its history, making Coe one of the fastest growing colleges in the state.”
New Kohawks arrived from 280 cities, 25 states and seven countries across the world. Fifty-six percent of Coe’s incoming first-year students are from outside the state of Iowa, representing a total of 329 different high schools.
Coe's national recognition and reputation of academic excellence, coupled with bold strategic plan initiatives, add to the college's overall appeal. This year Coe's Center for Creativity & Careers initiative drew national attention when The Princeton Review ranked Coe in the top 25 schools for internships among all colleges and universities in the U.S. The strength of such programs along, with a rigorous liberal arts curriculum, contribute to Coe's disruption of the market.
Spivey becomes ninth recipient of Founders' Medal
At Homecoming, Coe presented Dr. Bruce Spivey ’56 with the Founders’ Medal in recognition of his remarkable career and extraordinary dedication to the college. The medal is Coe’s highest honor, and Spivey joins the ranks of eight other 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; and Marv Levy ’50 in 2017. Click the video to see a tribute to Spivey’s incredible life and impact on Coe College.
Outstanding Kohawks honored at Homecoming
At this year’s All-Alumni Recognition Program on Homecoming weekend, Coe recognized Peter Bryant ’62, Bob Young ’65 and Michelle Davids ’03 for excellence in their careers and service to Coe and their communities.
Distinguished Service Award
Peter Bryant has maintained a close connection with Coe over the years and has been a true champion for the college. From attending campus events, organizing reunions and serving on the Long Range Planning Committee, he has always made time for Coe. He and his wife, JoAnn, have long been generous donors and are members of the Heritage Club.
In the professional world, Bryant enjoyed a successful career in higher education, distinguishing himself as one of the top enrollment management experts in the country. He worked on college campuses for over 25 years, most notably as vice president for enrollment and dean of admissions at Cornell College. Later in his career he became a senior vice president and principal at Ruffalo Noel Levitz, working with over 750 higher education institutions by the time he retired at the end of 2017.
Bryant has also been a prominent and active member of the Cedar Rapids community throughout his life. He has volunteered with many organizations in the area and has been a member of the board of directors for the Cedar Rapids Symphony, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, the Cedar Rapids and Marion Fine Arts Council, the American Cancer Society local chapter and United Way of East Central Iowa. After serving on the board of trustees at Cornell College for over 20 years, he is currently a member of their executive committee. Faith has always been important to Pete as well, and he and JoAnn have been active members of St. Michael’s/Christ Episcopal Church for over 50 years.
Alumni Award of Merit
Bob Young built an impressive career in higher education, both in and out of the classroom. After earning his Ph.D. in psychology, Young spent over four decades at Ripon College in Wisconsin. Starting out as a professor of psychology, he eventually became the vice president and dean of students. He held this position for a number of years before transitioning to a new role as the director of planning and research, all the while continuing to teach. Highly regarded by students and colleagues alike, he earned multiple awards for his excellence in the classroom.
Young was also active outside of Ripon College, giving much of his time to his community. He worked in three Wisconsin state prisons, served as an instructor in the Upward Bound program, was a Scoutmaster with the Boy Scouts and was the director and secretary of the Ripon Community Development Board. Bob used his athletic talents as a coach for youth sports and the Special Olympics. He was also the secretary and treasurer of the Midwest Conference and helped establish the Midwest Conference for Women.
In his days at Coe, Young was a campus leader and football MVP, now holding a spot in the college’s Athletic Hall of Fame. He is currently enjoying retirement with his wife, Carol Carlson Young ’65, and the rest of his family.
Young Alum Award
Dr. Michelle Davids is an accomplished psychiatrist specializing in addiction. Her journey started in Dr. Mike Baker’s classroom at Coe and led to a job as a lab assistant at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis. She completed her postgraduate coursework there before attending medical school at the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine at Midwestern University.
Davids followed up her medical degree with a prestigious internship and residency at Harvard Medical School. This gave her the opportunity to serve on several committees, be an assistant editor for the Harvard Review of Psychiatry and complete an addiction psychiatry fellowship with Partners HealthCare.
Today, Davids is a staff psychiatrist and medical director of the New Connections substance abuse program at Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines. She is also part of the core faculty for the Broadlawns UnityPoint Psychiatry Residency, as well as an adjunct clinical assistant professor at the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine. Davids has not forgotten the strong foundation Coe helped her build, and she has given back by acting as a resource for current students exploring the field of psychology.
Physics Club helps Maquoketa honor famous physicist
Maquoketa, Iowa, may not be a place you’d expect to host a yearlong celebration for a noted scientist. But that’s exactly what they’re doing, and the Coe Physics Club is joining in the fun.
Robert Millikan, accomplished physicist and Nobel Prize winner, grew up in Maquoketa in the late 1800s. He attended Maquoketa High School and went on to conduct groundbreaking research and experiments. Millikan was a contemporary of other famous scientists such as Albert Einstein, and he helped found the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Though his work took him far away from Iowa, Millikan never forgot where he spent his early years. “He had always remembered Maquoketa, giving great credit for his success to his upbringing here, his early education and work ethic,” said Bonnie Mitchell, curator of the Jackson County Historical Society.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of Millikan’s birth, and the Historical Society wanted to find a way to honor him. They partnered with community members to establish the Millikan Committee and planned various programs and events throughout the year. The Coe Physics Club supported their efforts by selling T-shirts to fund the purchase of a copy of Millikan’s famous oil-drop experiment apparatus, which they donated to Maquoketa High School. The club plans to make several trips this fall to give demonstrations of the experiment to students and teachers from Maquoketa and the surrounding area.
The celebration for Millikan has given Coe students a unique opportunity to engage with a small-town Iowa community and share their passion for physics with high school students. Isabel Bishop ’19 has been working with the Millikan Committee for the last year along with Dr. Steve Feller. She has helped write articles, plan events and even design banners that are displayed on Main Street in Maquoketa. “I have had such an amazing time getting involved in the wonderful Maquoketa community,” Bishop said, “and I'm extremely happy to finally be delivering the oil-drop experiment.” The Millikan Committee has been equally delighted with the partnership. Mitchell expressed their gratitude, saying, “We sincerely appreciate Professor Feller and Coe College for their enthusiasm and support for this project.”
Preparing Coe students to vote in midterm election
The November midterm election is fast approaching, and like millions across the country, Coe students will have the chance to voice their opinions at the polls. This opportunity to take part in the democratic process is a critical one, and the Community and Civic Engagement staff on campus don’t want students to miss out. They are making it a priority to not only help students register, but also follow through and cast their ballots. “I think it's important for college students to be politically active because we are so underrepresented,” said student leader Scott Franklin '21. "We have passion for change, but don't always know how to translate that into actual change. So by showing students they can vote and have their voices be heard, I think it's empowering and important."
In the past, many Coe students have gone through the steps of registering to vote, but not necessarily casting a ballot. A campus report from The National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement (NSLVE) showed for the 2014 midterm election, over 70 percent of Coe students were registered but only about 22 percent voted.
The Office of Community and Civic Engagement wants to change the trend this year, setting a goal to increase student participation as much as possible. To reach that target, they are hosting a series of events leading up to Election Day to get students excited about voting, educate them about their options and help them make a plan to get out and vote. Student leader Angel Ramirez '22 wants her classmates to see the importance of taking part in the election. "A lot of the time our voices are not taken seriously enough," she said, “and there's a negative stigma around my generation 'not caring.' By being an active member, we can prove that we help make our communities whole."
To make the process even more accessible to students, a satellite voting station will be set up on campus on Oct. 16 from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM in Gage Memorial Union. This station can be utilized by all voters registered in Linn County, making it accessible to local community members as well. Anyone with questions about satellite voting at Coe may contact Dr. Kara Trebil-Smith, director of Community and Civic Engagement, at email@example.com or 319.399.8660.
Career fair and elevator pitch practice prepare Kohawks for success
The Center for Creativity and Careers hosted a Career and Internship Fair for all current students on Oct. 2 in Eby gym. A total of 53 employers were on campus to make connections with Kohawks.
Some students attended the event prepared with an elevator pitch — a short personal sales spiel. Kohawks refined their pitch at a practice event on Sept. 26. President McInally, alumni, faculty and Charlie Kohawk listened as students practiced their pitch while riding the elevator to the second floor.
"I really enjoyed the elevator pitch event because it helped me practice for real-life pitches," said Emani Brinkman '21, a business administration and environmental studies major. "I also realized how short of a time I actually have to sell myself. This was a low-stress way to practice such an important marketing tool."
The Career and Internship Fair served two main purposes: allowing employers to meet with prospective employees and helping students learn how to network and prepare for success in the job market. "Over the last year, we've been fielding inquiries from corridor companies that want to connect with our students," said Nanci Young, Coe career coordinator and advisor. "We had to move our event to a larger venue as interest from employers more than doubled since 2017."
GoDaddy, GreatAmerica Financial Services, Cedar Rapids Police Department and Transamerica are some of the larger corridor organizations that were in attendance. Several local businesses including Circle Computer Resources, Medirevv and Revival Theatre Company all hoped to gain more traction among Coe students.
"I'm excited for this wonderful opportunity for us to speak with students interested in a career in criminal justice," said Cedar Rapids Police Officer Shannon Aguero '11. "The experience that you receive with a liberal arts education at Coe is invaluable when working with community involvement and policing."
The 2018 Career and Internship Fair highlighted numerous career opportunities associated with Coe's metropolitan location. Cedar Rapids offers an abundance of networking, internship and career opportunities for current students and graduates.
A Coe ghost story — 100 years in the making
Research provided by Associate Professor of History Bethany Keenan
In 1918, a young woman passed away just three weeks after beginning her education at Coe. It’s now been 100 years, and some are convinced her spirit never left campus.
Helen Esther Roberts, the Voorhees ghost, was a first-year student from Strawberry Point, Iowa. She fell victim to the Spanish flu epidemic — her ghost story includes both a history of Coe and things that go bump in the middle of the night.
On Oct. 9, 1918, with 200 cases, it was clear the epidemic had arrived in the area. The following day the number of cases tripled, and Cedar Rapids found itself forced to close schools, churches and public meeting areas.
On Oct. 19, 1918, Coe announced that 18-year-old Helen Roberts died of Spanish influenza-induced pneumonia. The flu epidemic continued for several weeks, and by Oct. 24 there were a reported 2,375 cases throughout the city.
Helen was laid to rest in Strawberry Point with Coe professor Dr. Charles T. Hickok and his wife in attendance. In an effort to preserve Helen’s memory, her parents donated a handsome grandfather clock to Voorhees dormitory. They also endowed a scholarship in her name, which continues to be awarded 100 years later.
It is difficult to pinpoint when Helen’s legacy transitioned from tragic death to ghost story, but by the '70s, Helen was a permanent fixture on campus.
Encounters with Helen include sightings of a figure or feeling a cold breeze near the clock and phone calls received with a weak unknown girl’s voice on the other end. Voorhees women report being locked out their rooms, electrical items turn on and off unexpectedly and pictures fall from the walls. It is rumored that Helen does not approve of gentlemen visitors in the women’s dorms, and she is not afraid to let them know. The women of Helen’s sorority, Delta Delta Delta, appear to suffer more sightings than others. Although Helen’s actions are unnerving, they’re never mean or vindictive as she is a friendly ghost.
The biggest discrepancy is the location of her death. While all agree she died in Voorhees, the exact location is unknown. Research indicates that Helen died on the second floor, which was used as an infirmary during the Spanish influenza epidemic.
With the context of Helen’s death removed, what remains is the story of a young woman cheated out of her college experience. Perhaps this explains her varied attempts at pranks with Voorhees residents and her Tri-Delta sisters.
So on this 100th anniversary of Helen’s passing, take time to reminisce on your Coe experience — the experience that Helen never had. And if you happen to see or hear from Helen, give her a warm Kohawk welcome.
Upcoming Alumni Events
Kohawk Kickoff Week
Monday, February 17, 2020 - Friday, February 21, 2020
8:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Kohawk Kickoff College Preview Weeks are perfect for high school sophomores and juniors just starting their college search.
Crimson & Gold Visit Week
Monday, February 17, 2020 - Friday, February 21, 2020
8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Give us a few hours...we’ll give you the best years of your life!
Thursday Forum - The Golden Age of Neuroscience: Understanding Addiction, Stress, and Brain Disorders
Thursday, February 20, 2020
8:45 AM - 11:30 AM
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 are an additional $10.