Connie Glen delights Mini University participants

Connie Cook Glen, director of music in general studies, recently wowed Mini University attendees with an engaging look at the intersection of politics and popular music in the work of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Glen was featured on the front page of the Bloomington Herald-Times for her work with Mini University, IU’s award-winning program for lifelong learning.

Informative classes, appreciative students keep Mini University coming back for more

By Kat Karlton | The Herald-Times
June 10, 2015

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Jacobs School of Music Director of Music in General Studies Connie Cook Glen plays a half step from the very first score of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Lonely Room” from the musical “Oklahoma!”

 

Patty Harpst and Mary Jo Rock have been best friends ever since their moms introduced them after meeting in the ladies’ room before dinner one night. It was their first week as students at Indiana University, and both women would graduate in 1956 with bachelor of science degrees in education.

Sunday, the pair made a new best friend at IU—Judy Shettleroe—who earned her master’s degree in special education from IU in 1983.

The three women met in an elevator on their way to register at this year’s IU Mini University program.

“We were the new best friends, as they say,” said Harpst.

The program of roughly 100 classes taught by IU faculty, along with various social events, began Sunday and runs through the end of the week.

Of this year’s 537 participants, about half are IU alumni, said Kyla Cox Deckard, director of public relations and community outreach for IU’s Lifelong Learning unit.

“Every year, the vibrancy of our participants excites us,” said Cox Deckard. “We’ve had really positive feedback so far.”

Inside the State Room East at the Indiana Memorial Union Tuesday afternoon, Connie Cook Glen, Jacobs School of Music director of music in general studies, prepared for a class on Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein and the intersection of politics with their popular music.

Cook Glen taught classes at Mini Universities in previous years on Leonard Bernstein and Cole Porter.

“This one is about politics and fun,” she said.

Cook Glen shared a slideshow, speaking about Hammerstein’s preference of incorporating nature and simplicity into his work, the pair’s “brave” incorporation of mixed-race relationships into their early work and more.

Participants watched eagerly as their teacher brought up a video of Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner performing “Shall We Dance” from the musical “The King and I.”

Fast-forwarding through one scene, she said, “We have to see them dance,” and the audience responded with a resounding, “Yes!”

After wrapping up the class with a video of Lady Gaga performing the title song from “The Sound of Music,” Cook Glen greeted appreciative audience members.

“I often learn something from the audience,” she said, noting she appreciates how alumni often come to her Mini U classes with vast backgrounds of outside knowledge.

Because of her appreciative audiences, Cook Glen said she’ll likely teach future Mini U classes, which are completely volunteer staffed.

In addition to the classes, the new three best friends said they enjoyed Mini U for the atmosphere.

“I’m just excited to be back at IU, because I’ve lived in Tucson since 1961,” said Harpst.

According to Cox Deckard, participants came from 25 states in the nation, and this year’s class was filled to capacity.

This year’s final events take place Friday and conclude with an 11 a.m. commencement in the IMU’s Whittenberger Auditorium.

 

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