Obermann Center at 111 Church St.


A brief history

The Obermann Center is named in honor of University of Iowa Professor Emeritus C. Esco Obermann and his wife Avalon L. Obermann for their generous financial commitments, their tremendous enthusiasm for interdisciplinary endeavors, and their many years of loyalty and devotion to the University of Iowa. In the mid-seventies, the Obermanns, President Sandy Boyd, and Vice President D. C. Spriestersbach discussed the idea of an institute that would encourage the exchange of ideas among researchers from many disciplines and institutions. That idea was formalized as University House in 1978 and then, nurtured by generous funding from Esco and Avalon and from the Vice President for Research, grew into the University of Iowa Center for Advanced Studies in 1990. In 1993, with great ceremony and celebration, it was renamed the C. Esco and Avalon L. Obermann Center for Advanced Studies.

Our Mission

The Obermann Center for Advanced Studies (OCAS) is a crucial part of the research infrastructure of the University of Iowa. Our goal is to gather an inspiring intellectual and artistic community that bridges the campus and the larger world. The Center strives to be a supportive, inclusive, equitable convening space dedicated to rigorous, mutually respectful debate and discovery. Our grants for University of Iowa artists and scholars support imaginative collaborations and multi-disciplinary exploration. Our programming connects scholars across campus and engages the larger public in the ambitious, illuminating, and transformative work of the artists and scholars we serve. 

Browse our website for programs, events, articles, and application deadlines.

Serving a unique role at the University of Iowa

Situated in an old house on the north end of campus, we provide offices for six Fellows-in-Residence each semester, scholars who have supported leave. Other Obermann programs provide funding and staffing for a major annual humanities conference, small group collaborations, and faculty book completion workshops to name a few. In addition, the Center is a nexus for University-community activities, including lectures, workshops, and performances.

The Obermann Center falls under the auspices of the Office of the Vice President for Research. The Obermann Center Director reports to the Vice President for Research and is advised by a faculty-based Advisory Board.

Obermann Center programs are​ designed to:

—Create an intellectual community that values interdisciplinary and collaborative approaches and the rigorous thought, long hours, and great passion at the heart of artistic and scholarly excellence.

—Support the work of University of Iowa artists, researchers, and scholars when creative and research projects demand concentrated effort.

—Foster imaginative interdisciplinary collaborations across disciplines, institutions, and world locations.

—Inspire faculty and graduate students to experiment with new ideas, approaches, methods, partnerships, and forms for sharing knowledge and resources.

—Broaden and deepen the impact of the Obermann Center’s support by encouraging faculty members and graduate students to share discoveries through new and re-imagined courses and curricula.

—Connect the campus with city, state, and global communities through public programming and support for networks of artists, scholars, researchers, local citizens, and international colleagues.

Press resources

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