Distinguished Alumni Award


John S. Strauss

2011 Distinguished Forevermore Staff Award

John S. Strauss, professor emeritus of the UI Department of Dermatology, has given back to the University of Iowa through his outstanding work as an educator, his altruistic service, and his philanthropic heart.

A graduate of Yale University, Strauss taught at the University of Pennsylvania and the Boston University School of Medicine before joining the UI in 1978 as head of the Department of Dermatology. He served in that position for 20 years, playing a critical role in the understanding of the sebaceous glands and pathophysiology of acne, as well as in the introduction of retinoids to acne treatment.

Strauss's influence extends widely into the field of dermatology, where he has acted as president of every major organization, including the American Academy of Dermatology, the Society for Investigative Dermatology, the Dermatology Foundation, the International League of Dermatological Societies, and the American Dermatological Association. He has also served as director, president, and special advisor to the American Board of Dermatology, mentoring Iowa faculty members to leadership positions in the accrediting body.

Highly respected in his profession, he has been recognized with a presidential citation for his leadership of the 1992 World Congress of Dermatology, with the Gold Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the American Academy of Dermatology, and with the Stephen Rothman Award, the ultimate honor given by the Society for Investigative Dermatology.

In the larger world of academic medicine, Strauss has also been named chairman of the Council of Medical Specialty Societies and the executive committee of the American Council of Continuing Medical Education, and to the prestigious American Association of Professors. As an educator and researcher, he is a pivotal influence and inspiration to many successful alumni.

As head of the UI's Department of Dermatology, Strauss was instrumental in securing funds to support research and endow an academic chair. The John S. Strauss Chair in Dermatology, established in 1991, helps attract outstanding faculty members to the UI.

In fact, Strauss and his wife, Susan, have long been active supporters of the university. They have contributed to areas as diverse as the UI Roy and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, the School of Art and Art History, the Old Capitol Museum restoration project, WSUI and KSUI, Carver-Hawkeye Arena, and the Ronald McDonald House. They spearheaded the Joffrey Ballet's 2007 statewide tour in celebration of Hancher Auditorium's 35th anniversary and made charitable gifts to help Hancher and the UI Museum of Art in the wake of the Flood of 2008.

The Strausses also hold a rare distinction as gold level members of the UI Foundation's Presidents Club, having provided more than $1 million in donations to the university. Says UI Foundation President Lynette Marshall, "It is not just the amount of their giving that is remarkable; it is the breadth of their generosity and their interests—and their expressed desire to contribute in ways that substantially improve the lives of others."

Indeed, the determination to improve the lives of others has driven Strauss in his career and his philanthropic endeavors. By committing his knowledge and resources to the University of Iowa, John S. Strauss has left a legacy that will impact this campus—and the field of dermatology—for years to come.

Strauss is a member of the UI Foundation's Presidents Club.


About Distinguished Alumni Awards

Since 1963, the University of Iowa has annually recognized accomplished alumni and friends with Distinguished Alumni Awards. Awards are presented in seven categories: Achievement, Service, Hickerson Recognition, Faculty, Staff, Recent Graduate, and Friend of the University.


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The Krause Essay Prize and its $10,000 award is presented annually by a unique panel of judges: UI graduate students. Photo: Tim Schoon/UI Office of Strategic Communication Students in the University of Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program's graduate seminar dug into their weekly reading assignments with particular enthusiasm this past spring?and for good reason. By the end of the semester, they were tasked with selecting the best of the bunch for a prestigious award on behalf of a university known for its literary tradition. This marks the 12th year that nonfiction graduate students served as judges for the newly renamed Krause Essay Prize, a national award presented to an essayist who pushes the boundaries of the genre through experimentation, exploration, and discovery. Thought to be the only national literary honor selected by students, the prize is accompanied by a $10,000 award for the first time this year thanks to a new partnership between the UI Nonfiction Writing Program and the Kyle J. and Sharon Krause Family Foundation. Shawn Wen, winner of the 2018 Krause Essay Prize, is the author of A Twenty Minute Silence Followed by Applause. Her writing has appeared in The New Inquiry, Seneca Review, Iowa Review, White Review, and the anthology City by City: Dispatches from the American Metropolis. This year's Krause Essay Prize recipient is Shawn Wen, a San Francisco-based multimedia artist and the author of A Twenty Minute Silence Followed by Applause (Sarabande Books, 2017), a book-length essay on the life of French mime Marcel Marceau. Wen, whom students selected from a pool of 14 nominees, accepted her award at a ceremony in September in the Old Capitol Senate Chamber. Nicol?s Medina Mora Perez, a third-year MFA student from Mexico City, was among the prize judges in the spring seminar taught by author and Nonfiction Writing Program director John D'Agata (98MFA). Perez said that beyond discussing the merits of the nominated essays each week, class conversations revolved around how they define essay writing and the type of nonfiction they wanted to champion as representatives of the UI. By serving as judges, Perez says, students had the opportunity to read a broad selection of contemporary nonfiction that they may not have otherwise sought out. "By the end of the semester I had a clearer idea of the sort of work that people are publishing today, which includes stuff that I'd like to imitate and stuff that I'd rather not," Perez says. "I guess it's a bit like watching the World Cup with your soccer teammates: You see moves that you think are cool and want to steal for your own gameplay, but you also notice pitfalls that you should learn to avoid." Wen says she's been "over the moon" since learning she was selected as this year's Krause Essay Prize winner. A producer for Youth Radio in Oakland, California, Wen says discovering essay writing "was very much like falling in love" and has long admired the UI's approach to the genre. "When I started writing essays, I felt like all these dusty windows in my brain were opened, letting in light and fresh air," she says. "It's incredibly meaningful to me that my writing has been recognized by this program and its students." D'Agata dreamed up the prize in 2007 as a way to introduce his students to high-caliber essay writing and the many forms it can take. The professor asked colleagues from around the country to recommend their favorite essays from the past year, which he then compiled into a reading list for his seminar. As an added twist, D'Agata noted that submissions could be from any medium?including radio and film?as long as they were "essayistic." To give class discussions a sense of consequence, D'Agata had students evaluate each piece at the end of the semester and select a single award winner. Author Aaron Kunin received the inaugural Essay Prize, as the award was previously known, and it soon became an annual tradition. D'Agata's seminar students spend the semester dissecting the pieces, giving presentations, and writing critiques for the The Essay Review, the Nonfiction Writing Program's national magazine. Over the years, the class has crowned winners as varied as poet?Claudia Rankine, science writer Oliver Sacks, performance artist Sophie Calle, and the producers of Radio Lab. A current group of 14 writers and artists from around the nation serve as the nominating committee, includes luminaries like Roxane Gay, Leslie Jamison (06MFA), and Kiese Laymon. 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"Helping fund the Essay Prize is a rare chance to do both. Eleven Krauses and counting have graduated from the University of Iowa; the Krause Essay Prize is a way to both express our gratitude for all Iowa has given us and be a champion for the arts." The support from the Krause family has not only allowed the program to award a cash prize for the first time, but also to invite winners to campus to present their essays and spend time with students and faculty. When Wen visited in late September, she taught a series of master classes for nonfiction students. D'Agata says that the foundation's support further legitimizes the idea of a student-driven award and its importance to the literary world. "It's also helping to bring attention to the entire genre," D'Agata says. "There are a lot of awards out there for works of fiction and poetry, but very few awards for essays. This award is saying, 'essays are awesome.' If you're an essayist, you don't hear that very?often. The Krause Foundation is helping to fix that." Krause Essay Prize Winners The UI Nonfiction Writing Program has awarded a national essay-writing prize annually since 2007. With support from the Kyle J. and Sharon Krause Family Foundation, the award was renamed the Krause Essay Prize this year. For more on the prize, visit krauseessayprize.org. 2018: Shawn Wen, A Twenty Minute Silence Followed by Applause 2017: Peter Middleton and James Spinney, Notes on Blindness 2016: Oliver Sacks, Gratitude 2015: Claudia Rankine, Citizen 2014: Sophie Calle, The Address Book 2013: David Rakoff, Waiting 2012: Lauren Redniss, Radioactive 2011: Judith Schalansky, Atlas of Remote Islands 2010: Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, New Normal? 2009: Mary Ruefle, The Most of It 2008: Joshua Raskin, I Met the Walrus 2007: Aaron Kunin, Secret Architecture

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