Best week ever

6 Apr

What a week!

Last Monday I woke up to the sounds of thunder and rain hitting my roof. Not good — Monday was move-in day for our VISIONS Across America portraits to the Brunnier Art Museum. But by 9 a.m., when half the Alumni Association staff was ready to help load the truck, the rain stopped. That was the first sign that it was going to be a special week.

One by one, the portraits were loaded into the ISU Printing and Copy Services truck (thanks again, Rob Louden) and into the waiting arms of the University Museums staff at the loading dock of the Scheman Building. The load-in went like clockwork, and by Tuesday every print was hanging on a gallery wall. The Museums staff (Lynette Pohlman, Nancy Girard, David Faux, Adrienne Gennett, and Allison Sheridan) was so great — accommodating in every way, efficient, and professional. They really know their stuff.

This is Jim and me on Tuesday afternoon…so happy with our progress!


By Wednesday, people were already sneaking into the exhibition to look at the portraits, even though it was technically not open yet. Thursday was our “soft” opening, and by Friday, every light was in place, every word attached to the wall. We were ready for our grand opening reception.

I arrived at the Brunnier Friday afternoon about 3:30. The caterers were already there, setting up the food stations and cocktail tables. By 4:30, Association staffers Katie Lickteig and Beth Lott had brought in beautiful bouquets of flowers to decorate the tables, and the food began to arrive.

Jim and I were interviewed by the Iowa State Daily newspaper staff, and then it was 5 o’clock. Time for the show.

People began to arrive, and suddenly I didn’t know where I should be. There were too many people to greet, too many people to talk to, too many people to thank, too many people to hug.


Jim and I especially wanted to spend time with the alumni featured in the show. And they did come! Bob Gannon from Nevada (above), Catherine Swoboda from Iowa, John Arends from Illinois,  Shirley Koenen from Arkansas (below), Allison Foss from Kansas, Dawn Refsell from Missouri, Kathie Taylor from Utah, and Faye Perkins from Wisconsin. And some were represented by their families: Leslie Baker’s (Oklahoma) parents, John Kaiser’s (Pennsylvania) son, Rachel Beardsley’s (New York) parents…and I’m sure I’m missing some people.


We were surrounded by friends, family, and many friendly strangers. We had Board of Directors members and former alumni staffers. There were ISU administrators (including President Steven Leath and his wife, Janet), faculty, staff, and students. I recognized people from the Ames community and Des Moines. Most of the Alumni Association staff was there — working the event, or just enjoying it. I wish I could have met everyone. In all, 335 people turned out for the opening. It was beyond my wildest dreams.

And the reaction! I think people really love this show — because it’s about THEM. It’s about the potential of every person who sets foot on the Iowa State campus. Because once you have this Iowa State experience, you can do something extraordinary. Jim’s photos tell that story so well.


This project has been a huge source of pride for me, for Jim, for the Alumni Association, for University Museums, and for the whole Iowa State community. I think the people in the room Friday night felt that pride. If you were there, thank you so much for coming. If you were not, I encourage you to take time to view this wonderful show. It’s on exhibition through Aug. 9 (Tuesday – Friday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., Saturday – Sunday 1-4 p.m.), so there’s plenty of time to see it. Admission is free, although donations to the Museum are appreciated.

Thanks to everyone for making this one of the best weeks ever!


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