Why I Give to the Obermann Center - Ken Brown

Authored on:

Apr 26, 2016
Ken Brown head shot

The Obermann Center holds a special place in my heart. This is so not because of Director Teresa Mangum’s southern charm or the cookies in the kitchen, although both are gifts to all who visit. Instead, I love Obermann for what it offers to scholars on this campus, and for the opportunities it has given me to be in community with these very scholars.

"Obermann offers the impetus and the resources for people from across campus to come together to explore and create."

The Obermann Center is a living symbol of the best that universities can be--spaces for collaborative exploration and dialogue. Where else on campus do we see professors of music, history, and occupational health congregating together? University departments have fallen victim to increased specialization, and this trend coupled with growth means that more often than not we are in separate buildings spread across campus. Now we are more likely to encounter one another at Panchero’s than in an academic setting. Obermann offers the impetus and the resources for people from across campus to come together to explore and create.

The Obermann Center has also been the home of the Graduate Institute on Engagement in the Academy, which has offered me the most enriching experiences of my professional life. I was fortunate to co-direct the Institute for two sessions, working with Teresa Mangum and with Rachel Williams in successive winters. Teaching with these two stands out among the many highlights of my time at the University of Iowa. Teresa and Rachel brought joy and reflective thought to the classroom, although in distinctive ways. Teresa would offer a slow drawn comparison to literature past; Rachel would point a quick connection to a pressing social issue. Both approached teaching with the passion of artists and thoughtfulness of a loving (yet sometimes stern) parent. I learned so much from them and from the fellows who challenged us every single day.

"Obermann [must] thrive as a space where faculty like me are brought into community with others who challenge and refresh."

More than anything else here at Iowa, I want Obermann to thrive. So the University can be what I feel it must be, I need Obermann to thrive as a space where faculty like me are brought into community with others who challenge and refresh. I give to Obermann because it has given to me.

- Ken Brown, Professor and Associate Dean, Tippie College of Business

We value all gifts to the Obermann Center but especially by faculty and alumni who deeply appreciate the value of the Center to their work. Consider making an annual contribution or designate a recurring gift directly from your UI paycheck.  To continue to provide a space for University of Iowa scholars, artists, and graduates students to make connections and incubate collaborative projects, we need your support. Thank you!