Screen readers: Two navigational links to follow.Skip to site navigation.Skip to page content.
The University of Iowa News Services
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release

 

May 7, 2009

RELATED: Information for news media interested in covering commencements is available at http://news-releases.uiowa.edu/2009/may/050709graduation_MA.html.

UI alum honored at spring commencement for helping decipher 'Spanish flu' causes

Noted pathologist and medical researcher Johan Hultin, M.D. will receive an Honorary Doctor of Science degree during the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine Commencement Ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 15, at the Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in Coralville.

Hultin is being recognized for his efforts to decipher the causes of the "Spanish flu" epidemic of 1918-19, a project he began in the early 1950s as a UI graduate student in microbiology by attempting to isolate the virus from the bodies of Eskimos buried in the permafrost in Alaska.

This ceremony honoring Hultin is one of 10 occurring in several different locations in Iowa City May 14 through June 5. The University of Iowa will confer degrees on approximately 4,500 graduates during commencement ceremonies that begin at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 14, when UI President Sally Mason will confer degrees to graduates of the UI College of Pharmacy at the Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in Coralville.

The ceremonies for the UI College of Pharmacy and several other colleges, traditionally held at Hancher Auditorium, were moved because of last year's record flooding.

Television journalist and author Tom Brokaw and Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass were originally scheduled to receive Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees at the spring 2009 commencement, but are not able to attend. The UI hopes to confer those honorary degrees in spring 2010.

After a 30-year career as a community pathologist in the Palo Alto, Calif. area, Hultin, this year's honorary degree recipient, continued his investigations into what made the "Spanish flu" so virulent. In the mid-1990s, he returned to the same Alaskan village where he worked as a UI graduate student to obtain tissue samples from bodies exhumed from the permafrost and, through advanced scientific techniques, his colleague was able to characterize the genome of the virus.

His research was published in 1999 and investigators have now established a connection between the 1918-19 virus and avian influenza. Hultin's work has given scientists a better understanding of the virus, which allows for the development of vaccines should a pandemic related to "Spanish flu" arise.

Hultin also was a lead investigator in the 1960s in the development of the automobile seat belt. More recently, at age 80 and in collaboration with researchers in Germany, he helped identify "einkorn," the grass from which humans derived the first wheat, after an expedition in Turkish Kurdistan.

Seats are not reserved and tickets are not necessary for admission to any of the commencement ceremonies. Doors will open one hour before each ceremony. Because of safety concerns, guests are not allowed large bags or backpacks. Also, security officials reserve the right to inspect purses or camera bags.

In keeping with current public health recommendations to prevent the spread of influenza and to maintain the traditional handshake when graduates cross the stage, hand sanitizers will be made available.

The complete commencement schedule is listed below.

Thursday, May 14:

--College of Pharmacy: 10 a.m., Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in Coralville. Number of degrees to be conferred: 107. Degrees will be conferred by Mason.

Friday, May 15:

--10 a.m., School of Management (MBA program) Tippie College of Business, Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in Coralville. Number of degrees to be conferred: 216. The degrees will be conferred by UI Executive Vice President and Provost Wallace Loh. The speaker will be Wayne A. Sensor, CEO of Alegent Health.

--UI Carver College of Medicine: 6:30 p.m., Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in Coralville. Number of degrees to be conferred: 174. Degrees will be conferred by Mason.

--8 p.m., UI College of Education will host a teacher education convocation in the Iowa Memorial Union Main Lounge. Faculty speaker will be Vicki Burketta; student speaker will be Michael Goldberg, an English major seeking a secondary teacher license; and keynote speaker will be former Iowa Lt. Gov. Sally Pederson.

Saturday, May 16:

--College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: 9 a.m., Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Number of degrees to be conferred: 2,022, including 141 from the UI College of Education who are obtaining their undergraduate certification in teacher education. Degrees will be conferred by Mason.

--College of Nursing: 11 a.m., Iowa Memorial Union Main Lounge. Number of degrees to be conferred: 175. Degrees will be conferred by UI Interim Vice President for Student Services and Dean of Students Tom Rocklin. Sharon Yearous, a doctoral candidate in the UI College of Nursing and a pediatric nurse practitioner in the Cedar Rapids area, will be the speaker.

--College of Law: 10:30 a.m. at the Marriott Hotel & Conference Center. Number of degrees to be conferred: 189. Degrees will be conferred by Loh. The speaker will be David B. Wilkins, Lester Kissel Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.

-Graduate College: 3 p.m., (pre-processional begins at 2:55 p.m.), Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Number of degrees to be conferred: 805. Degrees will be conferred by Mason. UI Graduate College Dean John Keller will be the speaker.

Sunday, May 17:

--College of Engineering: 1 p.m., Iowa Memorial Union Main Lounge. Number of degrees conferred: 178. Degrees will be conferred by Loh. The speaker will be Gregs G. Thomopulos, chairman and CEO of Stanley Consultants Inc. of Muscatine, Iowa.

--Henry B. Tippie College of Business: 1 p.m., Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Number of degrees to be conferred: 551. Degrees will be conferred by Mason. The speaker is Laura Desmond, CEO of Starcom MediaVest Group.

Friday, June 5:

--College of Dentistry: 3 p.m., Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in Coralville. Number of degrees to be conferred: 70. Degrees will be conferred by Mason. The speaker is Iowa State Board of Regents member Robert N. Downer, an attorney with Meardon, Sueppel and Downer in Iowa City.

All ceremonies are open to the public. There are no tickets at any ceremonies.

All 10 of the commencement ceremonies will be broadcast on UITV on a tape-delayed basis. In addition, Web-streaming video presentations will be available on the same day of the ceremony.

Selected ceremonies will be broadcast live on UITV and live on the Web including the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Graduate College and the Tippie College of Business. The UI College of Engineering will be broadcast live only on the Web at but not on UITV.

For a complete schedule and Web links visit http://www.its.uiowa.edu/tns/uitvschedule/Commencement.htm.

For UITV viewing locations visit http://www.its.uiowa.edu/tns/videoservices/uitvloc.htm.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Lois J. Gray, 319-384-0077, lois-gray@uiowa.edu