By Steve Robinson | February 17, 2017 - 12:37 pm
Posted in Category: ISU, The Normalite

jane lynch
NORMAL – Having played a variety of roles in her acting career, upon returning to her alma mater for the first time since her graduation from Illinois State University in 1982, Jane Lynch could add one more role to resume: Honorary Doctoral Recipient. At the Founder’s Day celebration held Feb. 16 in the Brown Ballroom at the school’s Bone Student Center, the University bestowed upon the 56-year-old actress an honorary doctorate from her alma mater.

Lynch began her day at ISU taking part in the ceremonial bell ringing in the Brown Ballroom, leading a parade of nearly 30 people who each took a turn registering a chime as an audience of roughly 300 looked on. After graduating from ISU, Lynch earned a Master of Fine Arts in theatre from Cornell University.

Those degrees – particularly the earned ones – underscore her accomplishments considering, as she explained, ISU was the only school that would accept her in spite of her not being a very good student when she first arrived. She said ISU has raised their admissions standards since she took that test.

For Lynch, the bell-ringing ceremony was followed by a brief news conference, and being part of a Founder’s Day Convocation, and Awards Dinner. An actress, singer, and comedian, Lynch received an Emmy Award in 2010 and a Golden Globe Award a year later for her portrayal of cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester on the Fox TV Network musical comedy-drama Glee. She has also won two Emmy awards for her stint as host of NBC’s Hollywood Game Night.

Among her film credits are appearances in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Julie & Julia, and Role Models.

She credits three theatre professors at ISU during her time as an underclassman as early influences on her career – Alvin Goldfarb, Jean Scharfenberg, and Don LaCasse. Goldfarb, a former president of Western Illinois University, was among those who helped Lynch celebrate her achieving the honorary doctorate.

Having not been back to ISU since she graduated, Lynch said among the old haunts she wanted to tour again was the University’s quad. She explained she used to cut through the quad area even during trips when it wasn’t called for.

Fellow ISU Alum Sean Hayes Is A Mentor: Another ISU acting alum who Lynch has kept in close contact with is Sean Hayes who, Lynch told reporters, “is a mentor” to her, referring to one of the stars of the NBC comedy, “Will & Grace,” which will get a brief revival this year. “He’s one of the most open-hearted people I’ve ever met,” Lynch said.

Lynch reminded that Hayes received this honorary degree a couple of years ago during a visit to ISU. At that time, Lynch said, “Sean said to me, ‘I’ll bet they’ll ask you to do this, and you should say yes.’”

By Steve Robinson | April 17, 2007 - 1:45 am
Posted in Category: ISU, Pekin Daily Times

Robert BallardNORMAL – Given the opportunity, Dr. Robert Ballard, the man who found the wreckage of the RMS Titanic over 20 years ago, said Tuesday, he would like to help preserve the ship that has sat at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean for over 90 years by giving the vessel a paint job.

Ballard, founding chairman for the JASON Foundation for Education, and president for the Institute for Exploration, is not being flip when he speaks of the British luxury ship which struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage on April 14, 1912, from Southampton, England to New York City after hitting an iceberg, sinking the next day. While nearly 1,500 passengers died in the cold seas of the Atlantic as a result, roughly 700 other passengers survived the ordeal.

Ballard and a team of scientists discovered the exact location of the RMS Titanic in 1985 after a few previous unsuccessful tries.

“If we were to (raise) the Titanic, it would stink, there would be rust, and it just would not look right (to resurrect the ship) in its current condition,” Ballard said following a talk he gave to 100 people – 30 of them who were local third graders who had been studying about the Titanic during the school year.

The ship left fresh from a port at Southampton and now sits at the bottom of the ocean graying and deteriorating since it sank almost a century ago. Ballard said what people ought to want “is for the ship to keep its current look, but not for the ship to disintegrate.”

He said the most poignant moment for him upon discovering the Titanic was when he and the team that discovered the sunken ship and saw empty shoes among the watery ruins.

“Seeing the shoes was just powerful for me,” Ballard said. “The shoes show the exact position the person was in when they died.”

In a way, finding the shoes demonstrated a point for Ballard to pass on to his audience about how lightly he and other scientists should tread when they come upon ruins like the Titanic.

“When we find something, unless there is a fundamental reason for not preserving it, (such remains) should not be touched,” Ballard told his audience.

He told the students that today’s world is, thanks to the Internet, the world is “one-fourth of a second away and the career paths the students will take as a result have not even been defined yet.”

After the talk, Ballard said that “the idea is to preserve it, and that does not mean change it,” Ballard said. “It’s already changed, and it’ll never be what it used to be,” Ballard said. “But it could always be what it is.”

Premier Exhibitions, Inc., an Atlanta, Ga.-based company that puts exhibits together has an exhibit of artifacts from the RMS Titanic currently at Las Vegas’ Tropicana Hotel. Ballard said he is troubled by the exhibition, and apparently, has himself heard from people who have taken a tour of the exhibition who have come away with the same reaction.

Ballard, 64, compared people to attend the Las Vegas exhibit to people who, in 18th Century England used to attend public executions. “In many ways, (the Las Vegas exhibit) is a public execution of the Titanic.”

Ballard said he has heard from people who attended the exhibit but later regretted doing so. “(The exhibit) fascinates people, so they come. But a lot of them… go away not exactly happy about it.”

ISU 150 yearsIn addition to the presentation at Illinois State’s Milner Library and a news conference, Ballard was to give an evening talk at Braden Auditorium, followed by a book signing event.

Ballard’s visit to the campus was the third in a series of visits to ISU by local and national newsmakers as the University continues a year-long 150th anniversary celebration. Historian David McCullough kicked off the festivities at a convocation last March, and Caterpillar CEO James W. Owens spoke two weeks ago. Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, singer Naomi Judd, and filmmaker Ken Burns are all scheduled to visit ISU in the fall.

By Steve Robinson | February 18, 2007 - 1:16 am
Posted in Category: ISU, The Normalite

ISU 150 yearsNORMAL – Illinois State University began its year-long celebration of its 150th year in historic fashion Thursday, Feb. 16 with a convocation address by noted prize-winning author and historian David McCullough.

McCullough is the first of a series of speakers who will visit ISU over the course of the University’s year-long celebration.

Thursday, before he addressed a packed crowd of students, staff, and members of the Illinois State Historical Society, who were holding their annual two-day conference at ISU, McCullough addressed the media in the Faculty/Staff Commons Room of the Bone Student Center.

“I’m both pleased, and highly complimented to be asked to take part in this celebration, and particularly, to come to a university that has such a long-standing role in how we teach our children,” said McCullough, who has written numerous historical books, including 1776, Truman, and The Johnstown Flood.

McCullough said that leaders need to learn and understand history. He said for history not to be taught or learned by people “diminishes the chances of leaders to excel in their responsibilities.”

McCullough declined, however, to elaborate on whether today’s politicians, President George W. Bush, for example, have been able to use history’s lessons to help in today’s current world circumstances.

“I’m not going to pass judgment on current politicians of either party or of any position,” McCullough said. “That’s not my role.

“I will say that President Bush is far better read than most people realize,” McCullough said, attempting to debunk a public perception that the Commander-In-Chief chooses not to pay attention to media reports.

He said further that Bush has “a sense of history.”

David McCullough“I don’t think it’s possible to have a father who was President of the United States and not have a certain sense of history,” McCullough said of the Texas Republican incumbent

McCullough said in order for history to capture the interest of young minds will have to begin with “revising how we teach our teachers. That’s paramount.”

“We are graduating far too many teachers from schools of education who have learned nothing but education,” McCullough said, explaining that those who want to enter the field should graduate in some other field of study.

“You cannot graduate from this university without taken some courses in history,” McCullough said. He said that that is not the case at a number of other universities in the country.

“That is a terrible mistake,” McCullough said. “If you have teachers who don’t know the subject they’re teaching, whether it’s history or mathematics or English literature or whatever, (the problem) goes beyond that.

“You can’t love what you don’t know,” McCullough explained. “The great teachers, the effective teachers, the teachers that can change lives are those teachers who love what they are teaching.”

To drive that point home, McCullough quoted Margaret McFarlane, who taught teachers at the University of Pittsburgh.

McCullough said McFarlane said attitude is what matters in education. “McFarlane said attitudes aren’t taught, they’re caught. It is the attitude of the teacher toward the subject they are teaching.”

McCullough said children who grew up watching Public Broadcasting’s “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” saw an example of what loving to learn meant because the program’s host, Fred Rogers, studied under McFarlane and used the same technique of loving to learn, trying to pass it to his young viewers.

After that press conference, McCullough moved on to participate in the University’s 150th anniversary convocation ceremony, which recognized staff and faculty for their accomplishments. At the conclusion of his talk in Braden Auditorium, ISU President Al Bowman and Karl Kasten, Chairman of ISU’s Board of Trustees, presented McCullough with an Honorary Doctorate of Literature degree as the crowd provided thunderous applause.

Following the convocation ceremony, McCullough autographed copies of his books at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore on the second floor of the Bone Student Center.

Other speakers due to visit ISU over the course of the next year include Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, and singer Naomi Judd.