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October 19, 2001
Volume 39, No. 5


Playful to the bone
Coleman says proposed cuts serious, but the University will do its share
Minutes Matter gets UI employees up and at 'em
Remembering November 1: A University tragedy 10 years later

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Remembering November 1: A University tragedy 10 years later

A freezing rain was falling on Friday, Nov. 1, 1991 when The University of Iowa was changed forever. Gang Lu, who had recently received his doctorate in physics from the UI, shot five people to death and permanently paralyzed another before killing himself.

“There is one and only one good thing that can come of such a calamity: that we renew our commitment to cherish the individuality of all members of the University community. Forgetting to do so, even in our extreme pain, gives the victory to forces utterly undeserving of it and desecrates the lives taken.”

—Kim Painter, in a column in The Daily Iowan, Nov. 4, 1991

Just before 4 p.m., Lu shot and killed his professor, Christoph Goertz, 47; Linhua Shan, 27; department chair Dwight Nicholson, 44; and Robert A. Smith, 45, an associate professor in the department. Shan, like Lu, was from the People’s Republic of China and had also recently received his doctorate.

Lu then walked three blocks to Jessup Hall, where he entered the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs (now the Office of the Provost). There, he shot and killed T. Anne Cleary, 56, an associate vice president and professor of education, and seriously wounded a student employee, Miya Sioson. He then shot and killed himself.

The killings plunged the campus into a state of shock, but they also drew it together. Immediately following the shootings, there was concern of a backlash against the Chinese community in Iowa City. Many people, including University of Iowa President Hunter R. Rawlings III, representatives of the UI International Center, and clergy from the Campus Ministries, provided support and comfort to the Department of Physics and Astronomy and to the Chinese community, both of which had suffered losses on Nov. 1. Six days after the shootings, on Nov. 7, a community observance in Carver-Hawkeye Arena was attended by thousands and was broadcast live to the state.

Miya Sonya Sioson. Photo by Deb Barber, Iowa City Press-Citizen.

• Miya Sonya Sioson, University of Iowa student
Miya Sonya Sioson was born in the Philippines and moved to Ames with her parents when she was a child. Her father, Frederico M. Sioson, was professor of mathematics at Iowa State University from 1968 until his death in 1969. Miya is the youngest of four children. Her mother, Sonya, lives in Berkeley, California.

Sioson, who served in a temporary position in the Office of Academic Affairs, was a University honors student majoring in Spanish and Portuguese and global studies. She was a member of the honor society Mortar Board. Sioson was active in Central American relief work and was a member of the local Central American Solidarity Committee. She spent the summer of 1991 working in El Salvador with Comadres, mothers of the disappeared in that country. She now lives in California.

  T. Anne Cleary. Photo from University Relations.

T. Anne Cleary, associate vice president for academic affairs and professor of education, Dec. 12, 1935–Nov. 2, 1991
Anne Cleary was born in Shanghai, China. She received a B.S. degree from Marquette University in Milwaukee in 1958, an M.A. degree in developmental psychology from the University of Minnesota in 1960, and a Ph.D. degree in psychology from the University of Illinois in 1964.

Cleary came to The University of Iowa in 1979 as a professor of educational measurement and statistics in the College of Education. She also served as director of the University’s evaluation and examination service. Before coming to Iowa, she had been vice president for program planning and speech at The College Board.

Cleary was a national authority on educational measurement and evaluation. She published numerous articles on test scores and mathematics ability, testing of persons with disabilities, and the use of ACT tests to select talented youth for special academic experiences.

Christoph K. Goertz. Photo from University Relations.    

• Christoph K. Goertz, professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, March 22, 1944–Nov. 1, 1991
Christoph K. Goertz was born in Danzig, Germany. He received a bachelor’s degree from the Technische Universitat Berlin in 1969 and earned his doctorate from Rhodes University, Grahams-town, South Africa, in 1972. He came to The University of Iowa in 1973 as a research associate and was appointed full professor in 1981.

Goertz published more than 150 scientific articles in professional publications and served as senior editor of the Journal of Geophysical Research. In 1991 he was elected an external scientific member of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany. Previously he was a visiting senior scientist and a senior research scientist at MIT.

Goertz’s research interests ranged from the Earth’s aurora borealis, or northern lights, to phenomena associated with the interaction between the planet Jupiter and its moons.

    Dwight R. Nicholson. Photo from University Relations.

•Dwight R. Nicholson, professor and chair, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Oct. 3, 1947–Nov. 1, 1991
Dwight R. Nicholson was born in Racine, Wis. He received a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Wisconsin in 1969 and earned his doctorate in plasma physics from the University of California–Berkeley in 1975.

He conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Colorado, where he also taught a course in plasma physics and published a graduate-level textbook on plasma theory.

Nicholson joined the University of Iowa faculty in 1978 and was appointed a full professor in 1986. He chaired the Department of Physics and Astronomy for six years, from 1985 until his death.

In addition to his administrative and faculty duties, he conducted plasma physics research. Among his professional and University affiliations, he was a member of the U.S. Department of Energy Transport Review Panel, a consultant to Los Alamos National Laboratory, and a member of the University’s Strategic Planning Committee for Interdisciplinary Programs.

Linhua Shan. Photo form University Relations.

• Linhua Shan, research investigator, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Nov. 25, 1964–Nov. 1, 1991
Linhua Shan was born in Jiaxing, People’s Republic of China. He received a B.S. degree from the University of Science and Technology of China in 1985. Shan transferred to The University of Iowa from Texas A&M University. He was awarded a Ph.D. degree from the University in December 1990.

He was the recipient of the 1991 D.C. Spriestersbach award for the outstanding doctoral dissertation at The University of Iowa. His dissertation concerned an explanation of the structure of Saturn’s ring system. He was also a member of the theoretical space physics team in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

    Robert Alan Smith. Photo from University Relations.

• Robert Alan Smith, associate professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, March 8, 1946–Nov. 1, 1991
Robert Alan Smith was born in Boston, Mass. He received a B.S. degree in science engineering from Northwestern University in 1968 and a doctorate in physics from the University of Maryland in 1973.

In 1989 Smith came to The University of Iowa as an associate professor. Before coming to Iowa, he had served as a postdoctoral research associate at Goddard Space Flight Center from November 1973 to October 1975; he was a visiting scientist in both France and the Netherlands from 1975 to 1977; and he worked for the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., from 1978 to 1989.

Smith was active in national space physics activity through the American Geophysical Union. His research interests ranged from thermonuclear to space or astrophysical plasma physics.

Remembering November 1

The flag over Old Capitol will be lowered to half-mast for the day of Nov. 1 in observance of the 10-year anniversary of the tragic events. At noon, the bells at Old Capitol will ring for one minute, followed by a minute of silence across campus. The Association of Campus Ministers will sponsor an interfaith service of remembrance open to the entire community at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 1, at the Newman Catholic Student Center.

Article by Steve Maravetz

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