WIU Music Professor Earning Art Degree

CaldwellBy Kolette Herndon
University Relations Student Worker

Jim Caldwell, a professor in the Western Illinois University School of Music since 1985, is pursing a completely different dream that is now becoming a reality. Caldwell will graduate with a bachelor of fine arts in art degree in May after not taking an art class since sixth grade.

Caldwell teaches music theory, composition and electronic music at WIU. He is also a composer, and specializes in computer music. He is a co-director of the annual New Music Festival.

In his professional world, Caldwell is the chair of the University Personnel Committee, a former president of the WIU chapter of UPI Local 4100, was named the Distinguished Faculty Lecturer in 2009, and received the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2005.

However, Caldwell sparked a new interest in simply learning to draw in 2004 when he began taking studio art classes in the art department. He had no art experience other than what is required in grade school and middle school. After the first few classes, Caldwell just kept going and eventually realized that he had accumulated enough credits to pursue a degree in art.

After meeting with Professor Jan Clough for advising and figuring out what courses he had left to take, Caldwell is now taking his last course requirement, an art history class. Caldwell will graduate in May and take part in undergraduate commencement while wearing his doctoral regalia. He will even have his own graduation party.

“My experience in the Art Department has been meaningful to me, and I think of myself as a visual artist, as well as a musician now,” Caldwell said. He adds that teaching has been wonderful and inspiring, and his traditional-age classmates have always made him feel welcome.

Inspired by WIU Classes, Alum Opens Her Own Business

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 1.22.11 PMBy Kolette Herndon
University Relations Student Writer

A recent Western Illinois University alumna was inspired so much by her classes at WIU that she has created a new organization called Real Women of the Quad Cities to help women with their self-image.

Stephanie Hoover graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences in Fall 2013 after transferring from Scott Community College (SCC) to the WIU Quad Cities campus. In the midst of her studies at WIU, she continued taking classes at SCC and took on two internships and two independent studies.

Hoover was inspired and motivated to develop her organization from within her WIU classrooms. First, she watch a video from her gender and society class, called “Killing Us Softly 4” by Jean Kilbourne, which discussed how the media and society negatively affect women and their body image. The following fall, Hoover took a women’s health class, where she began to realize how accepting herself and others was a topic that needed attention. So, Hoover began to write her ideas on what could be done and how she was going to do it, which evolved into Real Women of the Quad Cities (later shortened to Real Women LLC).

The organization began with local women replicating photos of models and actresses who had been digitally altered.

“(This is) who we are told we are suppose to look like,” Hoover said.

The images were shared over a Facebook page Hoover created. Eventually, she began receiving many messages and page ‘likes,’ and she began to take names of women who wanted to model for the organization. Women were interested in blogging for the organization as well.

Hoover hired five local photographers to take pictures of women who had volunteered. The idea was to compare the images of what society says women should look like to how they actually are.

Assistant Professors Tammy Werner and Nancy Schaefer from the classes in which Hoover was inspired helped her create an independent study on body image for Spring 2013, which won first place at the Macomb campus Undergraduate Research Day in sociology.

Now, after graduating, Hoover has written a business plan and is pairing with Mando Murga, a former WIU business graduate, to apply for grants in hopes of renting an office and hiring staff.

Hoover is fulfilling her dream of being her own boss and plans to put her strong and personality to good use in standing up for the beliefs that she and others hold. She is currently editing her third book, which she won an award for from WIU in Spring 2012.

To learn more about Real Women of the Quad Cities, visit realwomenofthequadcities.com or visit the organization’s Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Real-Women-of-the-Quad-Cities/438737702829430.