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Recovering after the storm

  Campus Digest  

A tree toppled onto the home of Dana Eness '86 when Hurricane Katrina passed through New Orleans.


Dana Eness '86, husband Jason Wiese, and children Sadie, 9, and Aidan, 2, relocated to Ames, Iowa, after Hurricane Katrina drove them from New Orleans.


Haily Summerford '92

Six months after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, Dana Eness ’86 is back home, Haily Summerford ’92 has returned to her regular job, and 22 Cornell students are preparing to spend spring break on the continuing cleanup in New Orleans.

Eness, whose office at the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities is located a block from the Superdome in New Orleans, evacuated with her husband and two children to central Iowa, where she has extended family. Michael Mudlaff ’88 helped locate office space in Ames to keep her working. Her children, ages 9 and 2, enjoyed a colorful Iowa autumn, snowy December, and playtime with cousins and grandparents before returning to New Orleans on Dec. 31. Their home’s only damage was from a falling tree. Schools and businesses the family relies on have reopened.

“We are extremely fortunate when compared to about 80 percent of the city’s population,” Eness says.

As associate director for a reading and discussion program for at-risk students and their families, her work takes her to schools and public libraries in various communities. “The people we work with have always been a transient population, and they’re more so now, with a lot on their plate,” she says.

Summerford, an educator for Fort Worth’s Environmental Management Department, was activated in relief efforts for Katrina survivors in Texas. “I helped collect donations—literally every few minutes someone walked through the door with bags and bags of donations—helped survivors find clothes and toys for the kids, handed out personal hygiene supplies … gave lots of hugs, listened, and tried to make them smile,” she says. She witnessed reunions between family members separated in the scramble to leave New Orleans.

“That made all the hard work and long hours worth everything,” Summerford says.

By the end of January, 4,900 evacuees were still living in the county where Fort Worth is located; a half-million evacuees came to Texas and a quarter-million remain.

At the end of March, students embarking on Cornell’s fifth annual Alternative Spring Break trip will assist a Louisiana church-based relief organization in cleanup around New Orleans. Students could work at a relief center, or they might help clean out churches and homes in preparation for rebuilding, says Jeff Ramsey, director of Leadership and Service. Cornell’s assistance so far includes over $1,500 to relief agencies, more than 800 hours of service to the MidAmerica Housing Partnership to prepare apartments in Cedar Rapids for displaced residents, and donated luggage transported to Louisiana shelters by students in French professor Jan Boney’s class, which attended a Cajun music festival in Lafayette, La., in September.



Tome a long time coming

Professor emeritus of German Alan DuVal wrote his PhD dissertation in 1948, but it wasn’t published until 2005.

Christian Metz: German-American Religious Leader and Pioneer traces the life of the charismatic leader of the Community of True Inspiration and founder of Iowa’s Amana Colonies. It’s the only extensive treatment of this important historical figure, says Peter Hoehnle ’96, the book’s editor and operator of the Amana Print Shop.

Of course, DuVal had convenient access to material about Metz, the great-great grandfather of Louise Miller, who became DuVal’s wife in 1942. The couple spent much time with her parents in the Amanas; her father, F.W. Miller, was an elder and chairman of the committee that prepared for The Great Change in 1932, when the Amanas reorganized into separate business and religious institutions. These family connections helped, DuVal says, because “the Amana people were a bit sensitive to people writing about them from the outside, calling them communists and such.”

DuVal retired in 1982. His dissertation was dusted off a few years ago by a grandson who lives near Atlanta. He printed it as a softcover book, and then Amana residents lobbied to have it published, which DuVal paid for through Penfield Books in Iowa City.

The 144-page soft-bound book is available at several Amana locations or from

Legislators welcome poet laureate Dana

Robert Dana, emeritus professor of English and poet-in-residence, became the first poet to appear before the Iowa Legislature when he read passages from his work to open the 2006 legislative session Jan. 17 at the State Capitol in Des Moines. As Iowa’s poet laureate, he read “A Short History of the Middle West,” one of his earliest poems about the Midwest.

“The Midwest claimed me long ago, but it took me a long time to claim it,” Dana, a Boston native, told the legislators. Coincidentally, Dana was the last poet to read in the Senate Chamber in Old Capitol in Iowa City, the original seat of government in Iowa. That reading took place in 1966 after the publication of his book Some Versions of Silence. Iowa’s governor appointed Dana poet laureate in 2004.


Sharing a campus and a campaign trail

Politics professor David Loebsack and Congressman Jim Leach have been opponents since last summer when Democrat Loebsack announced his candidacy for Iowa’s 2nd District seat held by Republican Leach. In January they were colleagues in the politics department as Loebsack taught U.S. Foreign Policy while Leach was team-teaching Principles of American and International Politics with professor Robert Sutherland.

“Leach could answer specific questions of how the U.S. legislative process works, and he had candid remarks about campaign finance reform” and other contemporary issues, noted senior Aaron Reykdal. “In many ways Leach is a foreign policy specialist. His pairing with Loebsack should lead to some interesting debate about U.S. foreign policy.”

It’s been common practice for respected guest lecturers to visit Cornell classes, and Leach has filled this role in previous politics courses, including ones taught by Loebsack. Sutherland hopes Leach, who has served 15 terms in the House, will help teach his class again. Also team-teaching with Sutherland twice in the past three years has been David Hansen of Mount Vernon, a judge on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. They teach the course Current Cases Before the Supreme Court.

Loebsack, who has taught at Cornell for 24 years, has said he entered the race not because he’s tired of teaching or unhappy with Leach’s leadership, but because he feels Congress lacks a democratic voice.

Politics professor David Loebsack (left), Congressman Jim Leach, and Pulitzer-winning author Samantha Power answer students’ questions about foreign policy during a combined session of classes taught by Loebsack and Leach with politics professor Robert Sutherland. Power spoke on “Iraq’s Collateral Damage” as the annual Earhart Cornell Lecturer in January.


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