Rod Library--Special Collections
Famous UNI Visitors
Over the years many popular entertainers and lecturers have delighted the UNI community with their words and songs. This display highlights some of the visitors who have graced our stages. For each person or group included below, there is a photograph and a short narration. For more information on these visitors, and all the visitors who do not appear in this display, please see the staff in Special Collections.
Country singer Willie Nelson performed for a crowd of over 7,000 people on October 14, 1978. On January 30 of that same year he also performed for 3,000 people in Waterloo's McElroy Auditorium.
Multitalented Dolly Parton entertained 4,400 fans in the UNI-Dome June 25, 1978.
Alice Cooper is the only singer to have performed on stage at UNI with a boa constrictor. His show, "Madhouse Rock," was held in the UNI-Dome February 25, 1979. He performed a second time at UNI in August, 1977.
Comedian Steve Martin had his 6,500 fans in stitches when he performed here April 27, 1978.
World renowned poet Robert Frost delighted his audience of 700 in November 1940. He discussed the purpose of poetry and read a sample of his works. Some of his more popular poems include, "The Road Not Taken," "Nothing Gold Can Stay," and "Birches."
Journalist and author Hunter Thompson spoke November 15, 1977, on the UNI campus as part of the Controversial Speakers program. Thompson began his work in journalism as a South American correspondent for The National Observer. Although he is best known for his political writing in Rolling Stone Magazine, he has also written several books on a variety of topics.
Iowa author Ruth Suckow's lecture, "What is a Story," was held June 28, 1943. Over 500 people attended the session, which was part of a summer discussion of American Literature. Suckow had also assisted in a creative writing course on campus the previous spring.
One of the most popular music events held in the Dome was the Rolling Stones concert on November 20, 1981. For the first time a limit was placed on the number of people who could attend Dome concerts. All 24,000 tickets were sold within hours of being opened to the public. This concert was also original in that condensation in the Dome created a rain forest-like atmosphere. Mick Jagger was quoted as saying during the concert that, "I didn't know it could rain inside!"
Anyone familiar with the Watergate scandal will know the name Carl Bernstein. Bernstein was one of two Washington Post reporters who broke the story on the Watergate investigation. He and Bob Woodward were the first to report the connection between the Democratic National Headquarters break-in and the Republican Party. He spoke at UNI on February 14, 1973, about his part in the historic event.
Yippie (Youth International Party) leader Jerry Rubin spoke to a crowd of 5,000 people in O.R. Latham stadium on April 28, 1970. Known as a revolutionary, he was a member of the infamous Chicago 7, was chief organizer of anti-Vietnam marches and troop train demonstrations in 1965-66, and was co-founder of the militant Vietnam Day Committee. He called for changes in government, education, and foreign policy, among other areas.
On October 2, 1985, Rubin returned to UNI to debate his old friend and 1980s adversary Abbie Hoffman.
Abbie Hoffman was a controversial political activist and anti-war protestor of the 1960s. He debated Jerry Rubin on October 2, 1985, on the topic, "Yuppie vs Yuppie: The Idealism of the 1960s vs the Challenge of the 1980s." In 1985, Hoffman urged students to protest the injustices in the United States. Rubin and Hoffman were close friends in the 1960s but were enemies in the 1980s.
Arthur Goldberg, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice, informally discussed the problems of our nation's court system in September 1981. Individuals in the crowd of 200 participated in a mock trial as jurors to illustrate his concern with the system. Goldberg was the Secretary of Labor under J.F. Kennedy from 1961-62, and became a UN Ambassador in 1965. As a lawyer in the late 1950s, he assisted in the merger of two organizations into today's ALF-CIO.
Coretta Scott King
Coretta Scott King spoke to a large crowd on February 28, 1984, as part of Black History Month. King is the widow of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. She talked about her husband's work and stressed that non-violent tools should be used for social change.
Russell Means was the co-founder and leader of the American Indian Movement. This group fought for the rights of American Indians in United States. Means gave a speech called, "Stuggling for Freedom, Striving for Justice," in Maucker Union on November 27, 1984.
Feminist leader Betty Friedan spoke on March 4, 1983, on the subject, "Women and Families Today." Friedan wrote the monumental book The Feminine Mystique, was founder of the National Organization for Women (NOW), and organized the National Women's Political Caucus in 1971.
Best selling author Kurt Vonnegut visited UNI twice in past years. In March 1977, he spoke about his writing and on becoming a writer. More than ten years later, in April 1989, he talked to a group of over 1,000 about his views on issues affecting America today. Vonnegut has written many novels and short stories, including God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, Slaughterhouse-Five, Breakfast of Champions, and Slapstick.
Author Maya Angelou gave an informal program of readings in March 1978. She is the author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
1980 presidential candidate Edward Kennedy spoke to a large crowd in Waterloo in December 1979. He also visited the UNI campus during his race for office.
Actual exhibit created by Susan A. Basye with special thanks to Sarah Eaton
Web version prepared by Susan A. Basye
Special Collections and University Archives
October 1997; November/December 1997