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Panel to Discuss Clarke Fire at Mackin-Mailander Alumni Lecture

Release date: March 19, 2014

A distinguished panel will discuss the 1984 fire at Clarke University and its aftermath at the Mackin-Mailander Alumni Lecture on Tuesday, April 22, at 7 p.m. in Jansen Music Hall.

The event is free and open to the public.

On May 17, 1984, a fire that started on the roof of one of the buildings spread quickly. Margaret Mann, Rose O’Toole and Mary Bertrand halls, including the chapel, were charred and gutted. Under the leadership of President Catherine Dunn, BVM, Clarke opened for business the next day at 8 a.m. Soon, a sign appeared on Margaret Mann Hall that read, “Clarke Lives.”

It was a trying time for the Clarke community, but the university came back stronger than ever. Discussing the fire and Clarke’s revival on April 22 will be President Emerita Catherine Dunn, Professor of Art Louise Kames, Professor of Philosophy Norm Freund, and former BVM president Mary Ann Zollmann.

• Dunn was Clarke president for 22 years, retiring in 2006. Dunn was the driving force behind the tremendous growth in campus facilities, curriculum and enrollment at Clarke. She became Clarke’s 14th president on January 27, 1984, just 111 days before the disastrous fire. She oversaw the rebuilding of the college and the subsequent growth and expansion of enrollment, programs and facilities. Dunn has been a continued advocate not only for Clarke, but for the city of Dubuque and the state of Iowa.

• Kames holds a master of fine arts degree in drawing and printmaking from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a master of arts degree in art history from the University of Illinois and a bachelor of arts degree in studio art and art history from Clarke University in Dubuque. She is a professor of art at Clarke University where she chairs the Art and Art History Department. In 1998 Kames received the Meneve Dunham Award for Excellence in Teaching at Clarke University. In 1984 she was half-time art faculty and half-time director of publications.

• Freund has a bachelor’s degree from St. Ambrose University and a master’s and doctorate degree from Southern Illinois University. He is an active member of the American Association of Philosophy Teachers which emphasizes teaching excellence within the discipline of philosophy. He also serves as an Administrative Law Judge for the Dubuque Human Rights Office and is a BVM associate. In 1984 he was an assistant professor of philosophy.

• Zollmann’s 55 years as a BVM have included high school and university teaching and serving in leadership positions in her BVM Congregation and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. For over 30 years, she has been connected with Clarke as a faculty member and currently as a member of the Board of Trustees. At the time of the fire, Mary Ann was serving Clarke as campus minister, teaching religious studies, and living in Mary Ben residence hall. 

For more information, contact the Clarke University Marketing and Communication Office at (563)588-6318.

Clarke University is a Catholic, liberal arts and sciences university dedicated to preparing students who positively impact their workplace, family and community. Academic offerings include more than 40 undergraduate liberal arts and pre-professional programs, a robust adult degree program and six graduate degree programs. Founded in 1843 by the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Clarke is located near the Mississippi River in the thriving city of Dubuque, Iowa. It is the only BVM university in the country.
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