The mission of Senior College is to provide high-quality educational opportunities for seniors. Courses cover a wide variety of topics in the humanities, sciences, and the arts and are taught by emeritus and current University of Iowa faculty members and others.

Senior College is run by a committee of retired UI faculty and staff members. The volunteer committee works in cooperation with the Association of Emeritus Faculty and the University of Iowa Retirees Association and contracts with the UI Center for Advancement to host this webpage and handle registration.


Eleven different courses are being offered during the spring semester. Courses typically meet for four 2-hour sessions for a $30 fee.

Please review all courses before registering. Detailed information about each course and instructor can be found by clicking on the "More" arrow in the gray box and is also available in the course catalog (PDF).

Once you have made your selections, use the "Register Now" button. After you register, you will receive a confirmation email within 24 hours.

If you have questions about course registration or would like to receive email updates for future sessions of Senior College, please contact the UI Center for Advancement at 319-335-3305 or 800-648-6973 or via email at .

Course 1

Blue Note Records: The Unlikely Story of an Iconic Jazz Record Label

INSTRUCTOR: Craig Kessler

Dates: Thursdays, January 18, 25; February 1, 8

Time: 10:00 a.m. - noon

Location: Coralville Center for the Performing Arts, 1301 Fifth Street, Coralville

Registration Deadline: Registration is now closed

Class Limit: 175

In 1939, jazz fan Alfred Lion took the first modest steps toward what would become one of the most prolific and highly respected jazz record labels of the 20th century. As the label evolved, Lion recorded most of the important jazz artists from the late 1930s through the late 1960s. Ultimately, Blue Note Records set modern standards for recording techniques, production, artwork, liner notes, graphic design, and session photography. During this course, we’ll hear interesting backstories of the musicians, listen to key recordings and relevant interviews, and view innovative artwork and classic live footage.

INSTRUCTOR: Craig Kessler has been a jazz radio producer and DJ for over 30 years—over 10,000 hours of jazz radio! He is also the owner and producer of the jazz record label Realtown! Records and has served on the board of directors of the Iowa City Jazz Festival. For many years, he owned the Iowa City store Real Records.

Registration for Course 1 is now closed.

Course 2

An Introduction to Artificial Intelligence


Dates: Tuesdays, February 6, 13, 20, 27

Time: 9:30 - 11:30 a.m.

Location: Zoom

Registration Deadline: Registration is now closed

From actors’ avatars to military applications, from chatbot poems to entire novels, artificial intelligence may offer advances in accuracy or be the road to misinformation. Is artificial intelligence a ticking time bomb or a transformative improvement for humanity? In this course, we will cover the foundations of AI technology as well as its current pluses and minuses. We will also use case studies to show the applications of AI in different industries and discuss its impact on our daily lives. Some hands-on activities will be provided during the course.

INSTRUCTOR: Patrick Fan holds the Henry B. Tippie Excellence Chair in Business Analytics at the University of Iowa. His specialties include AI, information retrieval, data mining, social media analytics, text analytics and natural language processing, and their business applications. He pioneered the application of genetic programming for search engine ranking optimization.

Registration for Course 2 is now closed.

Course 3

Railroads as Art Patrons in the American West


Dates: Wednesdays, February 7, 14, 21, 28

Time: 10:00 a.m. - noon

Location: Zoom

Registration Deadline: Registration is now closed

Since the mid-1800s, American railroads have harnessed the power of visual images to promote their companies and destinations. Over time they commissioned a wide array of illustrated tourist materials, posters, and original paintings for ticket offices, depots, and hotels. This course will focus on the fascinating art patronage and collections of several railroads (especially the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe; the Northern Pacific; the Great Northern; and the Denver and Rio Grande). It will emphasize how those lines used art to develop their businesses and promote Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Glacier National Parks and other regions in the West.

INSTRUCTOR: Joni Kinsey has been professor of American art history at the University of Iowa since 1991. She specializes in the history of landscape art, especially the work of Thomas Moran, the foremost painter of Yellowstone, but writes and teaches on many other subjects, including popular prints, Grant Wood, and women artists.

Registration for Course 3 is now closed.

Course 4

Native American Historical Lifeways and Modern Health Initiatives

INSTRUCTOR: John Doershuk

Dates: Wednesdays, March 6, 13, 20, 27

Time: 3:00 - 5:00 p.m.

Location: Zoom

Registration Deadline: Wednesday, February 28

Students in this wide-ranging course will receive an introduction to the complexities of Native American tribal identity and federal law. We will cover deep-time archaeological details as well as the more recent history of Native American settlement of Iowa and the midcontinent, including a focus on the Meskwaki experience. Current repatriation and reburial policies under Iowa and federal laws protecting ancestral Indigenous remains will be discussed. We will explore Native American health issues, including current UI collaborations with the Meskwaki Nation and other tribes. Three classes will feature guests from the Office of the State Archaeologist, the UI College of Public Health, and the Meskwaki Nation.

INSTRUCTOR: John Doershuk, state archaeologist and director of the UI Office of the State Archaeologist since 2007, is an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Anthropology. He received a bachelor’s degree from Carleton College and master’s and PhD degrees in anthropology from Northwestern University, specializing in midwestern archaeology.

Course 5

What We Didn't Learn in School: An Introduction to the History of American Slavery

INSTRUCTOR: Leslie Schwalm

Dates: Mondays, March 11, 18, 25; April 1

Time: 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Location: Coralville Center for the Performing Arts, 1301 Fifth Street, Coralville

Registration Deadline: Monday, March 4

Class Limit: 175

This overview of the history of slavery in the United States will draw on the 1619 Project, award-winning secondary sources, and primary source material. Sessions will focus on slavery’s origins and its continuation after the founding of the new nation; the diversity of its settings in the South, the North, and the Midwest; key topics in the experiences of the enslaved, including resistance; how and why slavery came to an end; and what the long-term consequences have been in terms of law, politics, and the accumulation of wealth.

INSTRUCTOR: Leslie Schwalm, UI professor emeritus of history, focuses her research on slavery, the Civil War, and emancipation. She is one of the founders of the Iowa satellite of the national Colored Conventions Project. Her most recent book, Medicine, Science, and Making Race in Civil War America, sheds important light on the question of why and how anti-Black racism survived the destruction of slavery.

Course 6

The Broadway Viewing Club: A Toast to Triple Threats

INSTRUCTOR: Christopher Okiishi

Dates: Thursdays, March 14, 21, 28; April 4

Time: Noon - 2:00 p.m.

Location: Coralville Center for the Performing Arts, 1301 Fifth Street, Coralville

Registration Deadline: Thursday, March 7

Class Limit: 175

Musical theater delights audiences around the world, and world-class performers can elevate their shows to special heights. In this course, we will look at four productions that feature at least one powerhouse actor-singer-dancer in an iconic role: Pippin (Ben Vereen and Chita Rivera), Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill (Audra McDonald), Anything Goes (Sutton Foster), and Steven Spielberg's West Side Story (Ariana DeBose).

All these shows are currently available for viewing at home through a paid streaming service or for listening on CDs. If any show becomes unavailable for streaming by the time the class begins, a substitute production will be chosen.

INSTRUCTOR: Christopher Okiishi is a writer, performer, director, and producer of theater. His work has been seen at City Circle Theatre Company, SPT Theatre, Theatre Cedar Rapids, Coe College, Cornell College, Riverside Theatre, Los Angeles’s Odyssey Theatre, and the New York Film Academy. He has written scores for nine theater and film projects. He is also a practicing psychiatrist who lectures locally and nationally.

Course 7

Cities That Built the Bible

INSTRUCTOR: Robert Cargill

Dates: Fridays, March 29; April 5, 12, 19

Time: 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.

Location: Coralville Center for the Performing Arts, 1301 Fifth Street, Coralville

Registration Deadline: Friday, March 22

Class Limit: 175

This course will provide a tour of key ancient Mediterranean cities and the peoples that made the greatest impact on the composition of the Bible. Students will learn about the Phoenician cities of Tyre, Sidon, and Byblos; the remains of Ugarit; the Assyrian center at Nineveh; ancient Babylon; Megiddo (Armageddon); the Greek cities of Athens and Alexandria; the Jewish capital in Jerusalem; Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls; Jesus’ towns of Bethlehem and Nazareth; and the new center of Christianity in Rome. Students will examine the intersection of archaeological sites, artifacts, and ancient texts, learning how this history contributed to the production of the Bible.

INSTRUCTOR: Robert Cargill, the Roger A. Hornsby Associate Professor in the Classics at the University of Iowa, is a biblical studies scholar and archaeologist. His research includes study of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), the New Testament, the Dead Sea Scrolls, pseudepigrapha and Apocrypha, and the archaeology of the eastern Mediterranean.

Course 8

Shakespeare, Page to Stage: Julius Caesar

INSTRUCTOR: Miriam Gilbert

Dates: Tuesdays, April 2, 9, 16, 23, 30

Time: 10:00 - 11:30 a.m.

Location: Zoom

Registration Deadline: Tuesday, March 26

Though the play’s title, Julius Caesar, names one person, the play itself presents the personalities and political beliefs of a group of people, contrasting and balancing their individual desires. The audience’s sympathies can change from moment to moment, and in the center of the play, that process is enacted onstage when first Brutus and then Antony speak to the Roman citizens. In this five-week course, we’ll work through this complex play, with close reading of the text and viewing of selected filmed performances—and look forward to Riverside Theatre’s production in City Park this summer.

INSTRUCTOR: Miriam Gilbert is professor emerita of English, having taught at the University of Iowa from 1969 to 2013. She still enjoys studying and teaching Shakespeare and going to see Shakespeare in performance, especially in her second home, Stratford-upon-Avon.

Course 9

A History of the Founding Documents of the United States

INSTRUCTOR: Thomas E. McDonald

Dates: Mondays, April 8, 15, 22, 29

Time: 1:30 - 3:30 p.m.

Location: Iowa City Senior Center, Room 302, 28 S. Linn Street, Iowa City

Registration Deadline: Monday, April 1

Class Limit: 50

This course will first review the building blocks of the Constitution: the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Federalist Papers. Then we will consider the U.S. Constitution’s Articles IVII, followed by the Bill of Rights, and concluding with Amendments XI–XXVII. The impact of the ideas of Native Americans (especially those of the Iroquois Nation) on the Founding Fathers will also be explored.

INSTRUCTOR: Iowa City native Thomas E. McDonald is a retired attorney and judge. He practiced law in Iowa and Arizona for 40 years. A graduate of Creighton University School of Law (1976) and Arizona State University (MS justice studies 1995), he served as an adjunct faculty member at Maricopa Community College for 15 years.

Session 9 is now full. If you would like to be added to a waiting list for this course, email the course number, your name, and your phone number to Senior College at or contact the UI Center for Advancement at 319-335-3305 or 800-648-6973.

Course 10

Hemingway and the Writer's Vocation

INSTRUCTOR: John Raeburn

Dates: Thursdays, April 18, 25; May 2, 9

Time: 10:00 a.m. - noon

Location: Coralville Public Library, Schwab Auditorium, 1401 Fifth Street, Coralville

Registration Deadline: Thursday, April 11

Class Limit: 85

From 1946 to 1961, in his final 15 years of life, Ernest Hemingway worked on two books, the memoir A Moveable Feast and the novel The Garden of Eden, that concentrate on the relationships between the writer’s artistic vocation and his personal life. Both are retrospective, looking back to the 1920s, and neither was published in his lifetime. In this course, we will explore these two works as autobiographical texts and expositions of writerly dilemmas.

INSTRUCTOR: John Raeburn is professor emeritus of English and American studies at the University of Iowa. His teaching and research areas are 20th-century American literature, film, and the cultural history of photography.

Course 11

Germany's Three B's: Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms


Dates: Tuesdays, May 7, 14, 21, 28

Time: 1:30 - 3:20 p.m.

Location: Voxman Music Building, Classroom 2, 93 E. Burlington Street, Iowa City

Registration Deadline: Tuesday, April 30

Class Limit: 60

The German composers Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750), Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827), and Johannes Brahms (1833–1897) are widely regarded as three of the greatest composers of all time. From Bach’s intricate counterpoint to Beethoven’s bridge building between classicism and romanticism to the expansive emotional works of Brahms, this course will examine the evolution of a crucial 200-year segment of Western classical music. Each of these unparalleled composers stands not only as an exemplar of his time but as a genius whose individuality has informed generations to come.

INSTRUCTOR: Musicologist, trombonist, recorderist, harpsichord builder, and conductor Ed Kottick retired from the UI School of Music in 1994. He taught composer courses, genre courses, the history of early keyboard instruments, and musical acoustics. He also conducted Collegium Musicum, a group of instrumentalists and singers dedicated to historical performance practices.

Session 11 is now full. If you would like to be added to a waiting list for this course, email the course number, your name, and your phone number to Senior College at or contact the UI Center for Advancement at 319-335-3305 or 800-648-6973.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the UI Center for Advancement in advance at 319-335-3305 or 800-648-6973.

Senior College Committee

Emil Rinderspacher, Chair 
Tom Rocklin, Vice Chair 
Warren Boe 
Gayle Bray 
Holly Carver 
Kelley Donham 
Lesanne Fliehler 
H. Dee Hoover 

George Johnson 
Greg Johnson 
Frank Mitros 
Mary New 
Sara Rynes-Weller 
Pam Willard 
Nancy Williams 

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