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University of Iowa News Release


Jan. 20, 2011

Hancher launches @Virtual_Virgil on Twitter as homage to former UI president Virgil Hancher

The University of Iowa’s Hancher has launched a new official Twitter stream that will update followers on the organization’s news while paying homage to Virgil Hancher, the former UI president after whom the performing arts presenter is named. Twitter users can follow @Virtual_Virgil for the latest updates from Hancher.

The new stream is the brainchild of Melea Dau of Swisher, Iowa, a UI graduate student in journalism who is also the head of the team of Hancher marketing interns. Dau, who in 2008 launched Hancher’s UI student blog, “Interns Unleashed,” suggested a character-based stream that over time will develop a personality of “his” own. The Chicago Tribune’s “Colonel Tribune” persona on Twitter served as a model.

Virgil M. Hancher was president of the University of Iowa from 1940-1964. He envisioned a portion of campus dedicated to the arts, a vision that came to fruition after his death with the opening of Hancher Auditorium in 1972. Much of the arts campus was devastated by flooding in 2008, including the auditorium, but the organization that bears his name continues to connect great artists with great audiences throughout the community and the state. Efforts to build a new facility to replace Hancher Auditorium are currently underway.

The new online persona joins two other Hancher Twitter streams — @hancherart, maintained by Hancher Art Design Director Ron McClellen; and @hancherinterns, maintained by the intern team and followed by major arts organizations around the country.

Other Hancher social media efforts include an official Facebook page, three blogs (staff, audience, and interns, the last of which is migrating to a more robust presence on Tumblr), and a YouTube channel. There are plans to engage the world of social media even more fully in the future. All of Hancher’s social media channels can be accessed via the organization’s website:

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

MEDIA CONTACTS: Rob Cline, Hancher, 319-335-3827,; Steve Parrott, University Relations, 319-384-0037,