Barry M. Kemp, 71BA, has fulfilled a childhood dream through his accomplishments as a television writer and producer. While a student in communications and theatre arts at the University of Iowa, Kemp wrote plays, but as a boy growing up in Kansas City, he had dreamed of writing for television.
That dream came true when he launched his career as executive script consultant for "Taxi" and then went on to create the hit series "Newhart." As president of Barry Kemp Productions, he has produced the soap opera and miniseries parody "Fresno," created and produced "The Popcorn Kid," and produced "Coming of Age."
Most recently, he created and is producing "Coach," a highly successful sitcom about Hayden Fox, a fictional football coach in small Minnesota college town. An admitted Hawkeye fan, Kemp took some inspiration for the show from the UI, using exterior shots of the campus and downtown businesses to add local color. He did not meet legendary Hawkeye football coach Hayden Fry, though, until he returned to the UI in 1990 to deliver a Distinguished Alumni Lecture.
Kemp and his wife Margaret Gomez, 74BA, have long been ardent supporters of the UI, particularly the theatre arts program. They established a scholarship fund to assist promising playwrights at the university and continue to underwrite the cost of the annual spring UI Playwright's Festival, which they initiated in 1986. In addition to serving as a role model, Kemp has given advice and employment opportunities in television to several UI graduates. The Kemps are members of the UI Foundation's Presidents Club.
Since 1963, the University of Iowa has annually recognized accomplished alumni and friends with Distinguished Alumni Awards. Awards are presented in seven categories: Achievement, Service, Hickerson Recognition, Faculty, Staff, Recent Graduate, and Friend of the University.