I must say that Dr. Iversen was by far the best teacher I had at Oneonta (my second favorite was also a history teacher…what does that say about the English department?). That is high praise indeed coming from a secondary English ed major! I had her for The History of the US since WWII, and it is stating the obvious that she was magnetic and charismatic. We were in a pretty large lecture hall in IRC (I think that was the building), and as diminutive as she was, her spitfire persona filled the large room. But I have a personal anecdote I hope you find amusing and comforting.
Born in 1965, I was a long suffering Met fan when I took her class. It was the fall of 1986, and the Mets were finally a force with which to be reckoned. Unfortunately, they were playing an essential, must win game at the same time as the class’s midterm, The game started at 3:00, and the class was from 5:00-7:30. I went to campus at 3:00 and watched the game in a dorm across from the lecture hall. The game moved fast, and at 5:00, I had to leave to go to class with the Mets hopelessly behind, 3-0, going into the 9th inning. Dr. Iversen decided to run class for the first half, then administer the midterm during the second half of class. Very early into her lecture, there was cheering coming from outside the lecture hall; the Mets made a comeback to take the game into extra innings.
When we had our break before the exam, I realized that the other class going on at the time in the lecture hall was watching the game instead of having class (I see the professor who taught that class in my mind’s eye, but cannot remember his name for the life of me. He was a chain smoking, popular government teacher I believe). I said something before the test to Dr. Iversen, tongue in cheek, that I came close to blowing off her test to watch the game across the hall. I got nervous about whether she may have been insulted, but she got it! When the Mets went ahead in the 13th with a run, we heard the cheering from outside, and she dispatched me to find out what was happening. When the Astros tied the game in the bottom of the inning, she again sent me outside to find out what had happened. Believe it or not, when the exam was finished at 7:30, the game was still going on, and I got to watch the end of the amazing victory in the back of the IRC.
I don’t know why that story memory has always stayed with me…probably because she was such an inspiration to me. The story is emblematic of my memory of her: she was fiercely bright, but also extraordinarily accessible and human. As a teacher for 26 years, every once in a while, when I get really passionate about something in my classroom, like teaching Huck Finn, I always feel as if I am channeling Dr. Iversen.
~ Andy Fried (1987)