Admiration at 1st Sight

April 21, 2011

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Dr. Georgina Dodge officially began her tenure as the University’s Chief Diversity Officer and Associate Vice President on July 1, 2010. One month later, she officially became an honorary member of the Iowa track and field team. This weekend, she’ll be introduced as the honorary referee at the 12th annual Musco Twilight Meet.

Larry Wieczorek, head coach of the men’s track and field program, first invited Dodge to become an honorary team member when he read a story in The Daily Iowan announcing Dodge’s arrival on campus. He said he saw a picture of her sitting in her office, noticed a blank wall, and decided to send a team poster to help decorate. He viewed the invitation as an opportunity to welcome the Ohio State transplant to Iowa City and promote the diverse culture of the UI track and field team.

“One of the missions of the University is diversity and developing diversity,” said Wieczorek. “I feel honestly that the University of Iowa men’s and women’s track team is succeeding at the mission as well as anybody on the campus. We’re multiracial. We’ve got the men’s and women’s teams working together. I thought it was a good way to welcome her to the University of Iowa and to link our team to the general campus and the campus mission.”

Dodge was excited to accept the honor, but admittedly nervous about the job requirements.

“I was thrilled,” Dodge said of the invitation. “Of course, there was a little bit of trepidation as well. I was wondering what he wanted me to do, exactly. It has been a long time since I’ve had to do timing at a track meet. I have done timing at a track meet before, so I do have some experience, but I would have to call on some long unused memory muscles to fulfill that role.”

To date, Dodge hasn’t been asked to time any events. So far the role has required hanging the team poster on her wall (which she says is still up), posing for the team photo, and accepting an invitation to be an honorary referee at Saturday’s track meet.

Head Coach Larry Wieczorek

The day may still come, however, when Wieczorek asks Dodge to set a training pace. The former community college competitor still makes running a priority in her life.

“I have been running for almost thirty years now for pleasure,” said Dodge. “In the beginning it was a little on and off, but now running has become a part of my identity. It actually defines who I am. Not being able to run is something I could not imagine. I call running my moving meditation. It really is my time to think and process and do a lot of other things.”

Dodge will be recognized during the opening ceremonies of the 12th annual Musco Twilight Meet Saturday evening. Field events start at 2 p.m. The opening ceremony will be at 5:45 p.m., prior to the start of finals at 6 p.m.

“I’m thrilled to be a part of it,” said Dodge. “One of the things that is really delightful about the track and field program is the diversity represented within the program. My position is to enhance and encourage diversity in all aspects of campus, as well as help all of us think about what diversity implies, what it means, how it impacts us on a day-to-day basis, and how we all in fact benefit from diversity. We can think of diversity as a hallmark of excellence, rather than something that is distinct and separate.

“The track team truly epitomizes that in terms of the ways which students are mentoring students, how great the coaches are working with the students, the emphasis on academic performance as well as athletic performance. It is a shining example. If we could take that community, grow it and make it the campus community, we would be all happy campers.”