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Civic Skinny

Sabbaticals: writing a memoir on being an alcoholic;

11/25/2015

Your tax dollars at work:

Meriam Belli, an associate professor of history at the University of Iowa, will take off the spring semester of 2017 to study “the international funerary industry and…the politics of burial.” She “will explore funerary industries and burial societies, conduct interviews, and gather data in France, Israel and Tunisia” as she gathers materials for two chapters of a new book project that will “discuss eschatological beliefs and mortuary practices.” Iowans “will benefit from Belli’s work at bridging cultures, as she stresses global connections among societies and religions, connecting past and present.” Belli, whose salary is around $72,000 a year, will be on full pay as she looks into all this.

Florence Boos, a $115,000-a-year professor of English at Iowa, will spend that semester in Scotland and northern England working on her monograph called “The Hard Way Up: Memoirs of Victorian Working-Class Women.” Her research into nineteenth century life narratives “is crucial to her teaching…and helps enable the Department of English to maintain its current highly respected Victorian program.”

And Mary Cohen, a $72,000-a-year associate professor, will spend the fall semester hoping to complete a book called “Silenced Voices: Music-Making in U.S. Prisons.”

The planned projects are for three of 111 proposed sabbaticals for faculty at the three state universities that will be presented to the Board of Regents next week. The sabbaticals — known formally as Professional Development Assignments — “provide increased visibility and prominence” for the teachers and “provide direct application of expanded knowledge to students, Iowans, the nation and the world,” according to the agenda item for the Dec. 2 meeting.

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Some others from the University of Iowa faculty:

George de la Pena, a $78,000-a-year professor, will spend a semester conducting research “on the physical, psychological, emotional and cognitive effects of concentrated dance training for competitions” among “adolescents aged 12-22.”

James Duerlinger, who has been teaching at the university for 44 years, will “complete the third volume of a series of books in which he translates and comments on Indian Buddhist works in which attempts are made to refute the thesis that persons possess souls.”

Denise Filios hopes to “complete a book about the social functions of stories about the concept of Iberia…as transmitted in ninth- and tenth-century Arabic historical writing.” Filios is a $78,400-a-year associate professor.

Donald McLeese will spend a semester writing his memoir: “Trudging Toward Serenity: A Memoir of Recovery From High-Functioning Alcoholism.” His proposal goes on: “Through six years of sobriety, McLeese has achieved a clearer perspective on the line distinguishing habit from addiction and has found a richness in a life without alcohol he had never anticipated.” The book by the $94,000-a-year associate professor of journalism “will enrich the journalism curriculum at the university.”

Steven Ungar, who has been at the university for 39 years, will spend time in Iowa City and in France to research the 1959 film “Hiroshima Mon Amour.” “The study will draw on hitherto unavailable documentation to reconsider Hiroshima’s place in [Alain] Resnais’ filmmaking between 1948 and 2014.” Ungar’s project “will contribute to ongoing efforts to expose students to ideas and perspectives they will need to live productively and usefully in a global society.” Ungar is a professor of cinematic arts who makes $145,000 a year.

John Wadsworth, a $110,000-a-year associate professor, will spend a semester studying “best practices in note-taking in therapeutic relationships.” This is “an important part of the College of Education’s strategic research and instruction missions.”

Approval of sabbaticals by the Board of Regents is always automatic and is usually without discussion.

Meantime, the 124 academics who had sabbaticals for fiscal 2015 have checked back in.

Margaret Beck, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Iowa, is back from analyzing seventeenth-century pottery from western Kansas and northern New Mexico. “The purpose was to better identify and describe red-slipped pottery made in Kansas with local materials but using techniques from the Pueblas of the northern Rio Grande area of New Mexico.”

Sabine Golz, an associate professor of German, edited her documentary film “The Cantor of Swabia: Music und Resistance in Nazi Germany.”

Robert Ketterer, a professor of classics, did research on a book “that examines how Baroque operas used stories from Greek and Roman history to reflect the contemporary interactions between Europe and the Ottoman Empire.”

Raymond Mentzer spent a semester “focused on writing a journal article and eventual book chapter on the place of material artifacts in the devotional and liturgical life of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century French Protestants.”

English Professor Horace Porter “did a substantial amount of reading and research for his book, ‘Writers in the Ring: American Writers on Boxers.’ ” Among other things, he “drafted a chapter dedicated to a critical reading of Floyd Patterson’s autobiography.”

And Professor Margaret Mills focused on her study of doctor-patient interviews in clinics in Moscow and St. Petersburg. She is working on a volume of 12 essays “highlighting and featuring unique linguistic, cultural and social aspects of Doctor-Patient interviews in Russian.”

At the University of Northern Iowa, Associate Professor Melinda Boyd spent a semester continuing her research and analysis of the music of Dolly Parton. CV

Marty Tirrell owes Richard Hurd $660,000

In his latest bankruptcy filing — his third — sportscaster Marty Tirrell seems to have overlooked the fact that he owes Des Moines developer Richard Hurd $660,000.

And that was no accident, a lawyer for Charles Gabus Motors contends in a filing urging the Bankruptcy Court not to let Tirrell out of the hundreds of thousands of dollars of debts he owes — including the $72,034 judgment Gabus won from him earlier this year.

The Gabus complaint says Tirrell’s bankruptcy petition should be thrown out and his debts should remain in force because he “knowingly and fraudulently” failed to disclose some indebtedness, failed to disclose some of his property was sold under a sheriff’s sale, transferred money into bank accounts other than his own “with the intent to hinder, delay and defraud creditors,” and, in the Gabus case, “obtained money by false pretenses.”

The bankruptcy petition was filed in July and listed debts of $810,252.26.

Besides not listing the money owed to Hurd, the Gabus complaint says, Tirrell failed to list as a debt the $96,656 court judgment he lost to Cumulus broadcasting in December of 2013.

Tirrell used to broadcast from Gabus’ Toyota showroom in Des Moines under an arrangement that was costing Toyota $60,000 to $90,000 a month, Gene Gabus testified last year. At one point, Tirrell told Toyota he could get former NFL star Troy Aikman to come to Des Moines for a promotional appearance for the auto dealer. Toyota fronted Tirrell about $80,000 to get Aikman. Terrell never made the deal, but he kept the money. Toyota sued and won the $72,000 judgment — Tirrell “never came even remotely close to obtaining Aikman’s appearance,” a court ruled this summer — and now Toyota wants to make sure that that debt is not erased by a bankruptcy ruling.

A hearing on the Gabus complaint has been set for Dec. 16 by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Iowa.

How does it happen that Tirrell owes $660,000 to Hurd? A few years ago Hurd lent Tirrell money to buy out his partners in the radio show, Hurd told Cityview on Friday. But the show “went out of business when Marty lost the sponsorship of Toyota of Des Moines,” Hurd says. “I have not pursued collection on the debt due to the fact that obtaining a judgment would be easy to accomplish [but] receiving payment would be nearly impossible.”

Meantime, Tirrell continues to broadcast daily on the radio and on Mediacom. Meantime, too, the Internal Revenue Service continues to have liens totaling around $40,000 against Tirrell for unpaid taxes for 2010, 2011 and 2012. CV

Comment: Speech

Members of the student government at Iowa State University debated a bill the other day that would have added a third free-speech zone on the campus.

They tabled it, by a vote of 21 to 16.

To answer your questions:

Yes, free speech — public debates and the like — is permitted only in two spots on campus.

Yes, the student government tabled the issue.

Yes, no one seems particularly concerned about this.

If you want to discuss this further, you can assemble west of the Hub or on the south Campanile lawn.

Elsewhere, keep your opinions to yourself. CV

— Michael Gartner

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