CONTACT: MARY GERAGHTY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0011; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: April 6, 2000
UI College of Liberal Arts names five Alumni Fellows
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts will honor
five accomplished graduates in its second class of Alumni Fellows with a ceremony
and reception Monday, April 10 at 4 p.m. in the Senate Chambers of the Old
Capitol. Alumni Fellows are distinguished alumni of the college who will return
to campus for a few days during the week of April 10 to meet with faculty
members, teach classes, give lectures, and interact with students.
Linda Maxson, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, initiated the Alumni Fellows
program last year with funds from the endowed Dean's Chair in Liberal Arts,
which was created through a gift from the UI Alumni Association.
"We thought it would be fitting to use part of the generous Alumni Association
gift to honor a group of alumni each year," Maxson said. "I am excited
about this opportunity for our alumni to return to campus to share their expertise
with our students and to be recognized for their personal and professional
At the reception, Maxson will introduce the fellows and present each with
The 2000 Alumni Fellows are: Mildred Wirt Benson, B.A. 1925, M.A. 1927, journalism;
Katherine Hammer, B.A. 1967, English, M.A. 1969, linguistics, Ph.D. 1973 English
and linguistics; James Hansen, B.A. 1963 physics and mathematics, M.S. 1965,
astronomy, Ph.D. 1967, physics; Henderson Forsythe, B.A. 1939, speech and
dramatic arts, M.F.A. 1940; and Marcus Milling, M.S. 1964, Ph.D. 1968 geology.
Mildred Wirt Benson, of Toledo, Ohio, was the first person to receive a master's
degree in journalism from the UI. In the year between her undergraduate and
graduate studies, she wrote some books in a continuing series for a publishing
company. The company was so pleased with her work that she was assigned to
begin writing a girls' detective series under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene.
Thus Benson wrote 23 of the first Nancy Drew mysteries. She is also the author
of more than 100 other children's books. Benson, who is 93, has written for
the Toledo Blade and its predecessor the Toledo Times since 1944. Her column,
"On the Go," appears each Saturday in the Ohio newspaper. Benson
was inducted into the UI School of Journalism and Mass Communication Hall
of Fame in 1993 and has also been named a UI Distinguished Alumna.
Katherine (Kay) Gonet Hammer, of Austin, Texas, is the co-founder, president
and CEO of Evolutionary Technologies International (ETI), a cutting-edge software
company in Austin. She pioneered software to automate the process of keeping
related data consistent throughout large organizations. Founded in 1991, the
company quickly grew and gained success, earning the rank of 15th in Inc.
Magazine's 1997 list of America's 500 fastest growing private companies. In
1993 Hammer received Austin's High Technology Entrepreneur of the Year Award,
and in 1996 she twice made the cover of Forbes Magazine -- first as the subject
of a feature on the rise of ETI and then as one of the 20 women executives
seen as the most influential in the burgeoning high-tech industry. She is
now using her linguistics background to address the problem of how to represent
metadata -- data that describe other data -- an issue critical to the efficient
operation of complex databases for information technology organizations. She
was named a UI Distinguished Alumna in 1998.
James Hansen, of New York City, is head of NASA's Goddard Institute of Space
Studies and an adjunct professor in the department of geological sciences
at Columbia University. He has been at the center of one of the most important
scientific debates of the last quarter century. In 1988 he testified before
a Senate subcommittee that the earth's average global temperature was rising
and that the warming could be attributed to a build-up of industrial gases
in the atmosphere. He used the term "greenhouse effect" to describe
what was happening to the planet. This historic testimony made headlines around
the world and began the debate on global warming that continues today. Hansen
was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1996.
Henderson Forsythe, who lives with his wife Dorothea Carlson Forsythe in
Williamsburg, Va., was the first person to receive an M.F.A. from the UI theatre
arts department, then known as Speech and Communications. He is an actor of
great accomplishment on stage, on television, on the radio, and in feature
films. The New York Times once dubbed him "a triple threat," a performer
equally adept at acting, singing, and dancing. He has won numerous awards
for his work including a Tony Award in 1978. Notable credits include the original
Broadway productions of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" "A
Delicate Balance," "The Birthday Party," and "The Best
Little Whorehouse in Texas" as well as definitive productions of "The
Iceman Cometh," "Waiting for Godot," "Harvey," "An
Enemy of the People," and many others. His films include "Interiors"
(Woody Allen), "Silkwood" (Mike Nichols), and "The Cabinet
of Dr. Ramirez" (Peter Sellars.) His television credits include 31 years
as Dr. David Stewart on the popular soap opera "As The World Turns"
as well as several sit-com roles. Forsythe's son Eric is a theater professor
at the UI.
Marcus Milling, of Reston, Va., is the executive director of the American
Geological Institute in Alexandria, Va., an umbrella organization for 26 geoscience
associations. He took charge of the AGI in 1992, when it had a crisis in management
and a budget deficit, and rapidly made it solvent and transformed it into
a first-rate proactive organization. He established a government affairs program
to raise awareness of national science policy issues and identify geoscience
experts who could communicate effectively with federal decision-makers. He
has had an impact on federal policies regarding earthquake prediction, flood
control, and determination of danger zones in storm-prone areas. Milling has
maintained a close association with the UI geology department and recently
served as chair of the Geological Alumni Advisory Board.