Bette Spriestersbach: The backstory

We've been touting the 2009 Bette Spriestersbach lecturer, Adam Gopnik. But just who was Bette Spriestersbach, anyway? Many of you might have known this wonderful UIMA volunteer, but for those of you who don't, here's a bit of the backstory:
  • Bette was a Museum docent, and she served on the Museum's Friends' Development Council. She died in 2004.

  • Bette was married to Duane Caryl (D.C.) Spriestersbach, known as "Sprie," and both were very involved in the Speech Pathology and Audiology department at the UI. Sprie served as UI VP for research and educational development for many years, and also served as interim president of the University from Sept. of 1981 through April 1982.

  • The Spriestersbach lectureship was established by Sprie to honor Bette's many years of exemplary service and devotion to the University of Iowa, her unfailing support of her husband's many years in the University of Iowa leadership positions, and particularly her work as a docent at the Museum of Art. It's the first and only such endowed educational lectureship fund for the Museum of Art.

  • The gift to endow the lectureship was announced as a surprise to Bette during the Friends Development Council reception on Sept. 11, 1992.

  • The first Spriestersbach lecture was given in 1994 by Susan Vogel, then Director of the Museum of African Art in New York City. An interesting note on that lecture: Stephen Prokopoff, then the UIMA director, wrote to the Spriestersbachs in the fall of 1993: "I had hoped that we could schedule the first lecture this Fall, but the flood and the consequent schedule changes interceded."

  • Sprie explained his reason for endowing the lectureship this way: "Bette and I have agreed that neither of us wish to have a funeral, to use up space in a cemetery, or to provide a dreary occasion for a social event for the living...Thus the kids and I decided to do something that would celebrate a life by working to establish this endowment."
Many thanks to Bette and Sprie for their years of service and generosity! Remember to come out tonight to the 2009 Bette Spriestersbach lecture by Adam Gopnik -- 7:30 p.m. at the University Athletic Club. Try the city bus if you don't have a car -- and we'll see you there!

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