Collins Publications: Dancing Star

Last year I graduated from IU after four years of involvement in the Collins Living Learning Center. This unique living-learning center is the campus’s oldest, and has a strong, passionate, student-led community emphasizing diversity and individual creative expression.

This summer at the University Archives, I am working to help digitize portions of the Collins LLC collection. So far, this has involved preparing documents (publications, letters, newspaper clippings, etc.) for scanning which includes organizing files, removing paperclips, and redacting sensitive information. As a Collins member myself, I remember touring the archives as part of a class and being fascinated by old publications I know well, such as the Collins Columns, and finding editions made by students from well before I was born. Needless to say, working now firsthand in the archives is very interesting from a former Collinsite’s point of view, and has enlightened me to much of its rich history I was oblivious to. For instance, it’s fascinating to see meeting notes and email chains creating councils that some 40 years later I would hold a position on.

Collins is a home to students of all backgrounds and majors. It’s very nearly entirely student-run, from its publications to its many councils and organizations. Hence, every year the environment of the LLC takes on a different trajectory, and yet the thing that stands out to me the most as I delve through the archives is how distinct Collins has remained since its inception, and how familiar it seems 50 years ago compared to my experience in the past four years, despite its many changes.

One item in the collections that exemplifies this aspect of Collins is the Dancing Star publication. This literary, artistic, and musical journal is the center’s longest running annual publication. In 1976 the first volume was written on a typewriter and compiled by hand. In 2000, the Indiana Daily Student featured a full-page article celebrating the publication’s 25th anniversary and its ambitious evolution which included adding things like CDs containing music made by students. 18 years later, the 42nd volume won the prestigious Gutenberg award in the Great Lakes Graphic Association Print Competition. This, as it happens, was also the first Collins publication I saw as an incoming freshman to the LLC.

Black and white cartoon of a dog wearing an I-men's sweater and beanie with a spilled bottle in the foreground
“Portrait of a Dog as a College Student,” by Tom Schevtchhuk, Dancing Star, Spring 1979

Over its 46 issues, the Dancing Star has taken many forms: from a pocket-sized handbook to a multi-pocketed pamphlet scrawled with residents’ doodles, to a handmade accordion flipbook adorned with buttons and yarn. The journal itself is as much of an art form as the content it contains. And yet every year it holds the same charm that is evident since the very first volume.

The 26th edition of the Dancing Star was perhaps the most extravagant and ambition design. Unlike the usual bound-book form, it comes in a cardboard box set. Upon opening, you’re immediately confronted with a collectable packaged figurine of a fetus wearing a tiny red cape. This “Superhero” collectible is one of three further options including a “Ballerina,” “Soldier,” and “Karate Master” which are described as “clutchable, hordeable lovelies inside every copy of Dancing Star No. 26.” Underneath this insert, the reader finds a poster and 7 booklets hidden underneath, each of which could easily be considered their own publication. As with all Dancing Stars, the booklets are filled with poems, art, short stories, and other creative expressions made by members of the LLC.

The volume takes pride in having an “all-inclusive policy” – a staple of Collins’ publications. On a handout acting as a sort of user manual for the edition, editor Brian McMullen explains the importance of this. Too often, he says, do people “make a literary magazine that looks like a literary magazine,” as poets too often write “poems that sound like poems”. He says that the risk of accepting all submissions is necessary in making a unique journal that fully embodies the true expression of the center’s members, and creates an unaltered, memorable piece of art in the process. In this volume, you will not only find poems that don’t try to sound like poems, but a literary journal that doesn’t try to look like a literary journal.

Union Board Scrapbooks highlight IU events over the years

For more more than 100 years, the Union Board has organized events on campus that have elevated the IU experience. The IU Archives holds a collection of Union Board scrapbooks that highlight the board’s events and programs from the 1930s through the 2000s. They are a wonderful look into IU history and at the events that shaped many IU students’ experiences across the last several decades.

Photograph of John Whittenburger, founder of the Union Board, originally printed in the 1911 Arbutus, P0047175

As I dug into the history of the Union Board, I realized the Union Board existed before the construction of the Indiana Memorial Union (IMU). In fact, it was first founded by IU student John M. Wittenburger in 1909 with a goal to “further the interests of Indiana University and her students.”

Originally comprised of male students and two male faculty advisers, including Indiana University President William L. Bryan, the group met in the Student Building and old Assembly Hall until the construction of the Union in 1932. Their focus was on enriching the lives of IU students, faculty and staff through unique events, activity and programs. Initiatives ran the gamut, from socials and dances, fairs, movie screenings, concerts, performing arts acts, and more.

From the Archives Photograph Collection, titled, “The Indiana Union barbershop located in the Student Building,” from the 1912 Arbutus, P0048276.

One early example of the Union Board’s impact on campus comes from the 1912 IU Arbutus. One page includes a picture of a barbershop in the Student Building attributed to the early Union board.

The Union Board went co-ed in 1952 when it merged with the Association of Women Students, and over time has grown to become an elected student governing body that leads the IMU, directs handfuls of committees – including the Campus Creative Arts committee, Concert committee, and the popular Live From Bloomington committee – and is now the largest student programming organization on campus.

One of the longest running and likely one of the best known Union Board programs, Union Board Films, was first rolled out in 1914 under the program’s early name, “Let’s go to the Union Movies.” It has brought screenings of popular films to campus for free or cheap, providing a fun and cost-effective weekend event an easy walk from the dorms. Originally held two nights a week, the recent film program offers showings of newly released movies in the Union’s Whittenberger Auditorium most weekends during the school year.

Schedule of Union Board Films from the Spring semester 1987. From 1986-1987 (book 3), in the Union Board Scrapbooks, 1932-2012 collection.

Another area of Union Board programming, music and comedy events, are well represented in the pages of the scrapbooks. The board has brought all types of musical acts and comedy events to campus, both large and more intimate. Union Board Concerts committee brought BB King to campus in 1971.  In 1979, the committee featured the rock band Heart. In 2001, Union Board events featured comedian Dave Chappelle. In addition to massive musical and comedy acts, the Union Board has also hosted smaller, localized music and comedy, including their well-known local music series called Live From Bloomington and local comedy improv and sketch group events.

Clipping advertising one of many Union Board concerts, this one promoting the B.B. King concert from the 1971 scrapbook, in March 19,1971 – April 14, 1972 within the Union Board scrapbooks, 1932-2012 collection.

Clipping advertising Union Board-sponsored concert event featuring the band Heart, February 1979, from October 1978-February 1979 in the Union Board Scrapbooks, 1932-2012 collection.

Scrapbook page highlighting a 2001 Union Board comedy event that brought Dave Chappelle to the IU Auditorium. From 2001 in the Union Board scrapbooks, 1932-2012 collection.

Ticket stubs and event programs, news clippings and photographs featured in these scrapbooks provide a glimpse of not only the workings of the Union Board over the years, but also a glimpse of the way student life has changed over the years. The scrapbooks range from the 1930s all the way up to the 2010s, and the richness of campus life from such a broad range of IU history is really interesting to behold! Check out the scrapbooks here and find out more about the Union Board’s current programming and committees!

Myles Brand’s Presidential records

The finding aid for the presidential records of former Indiana University president Myles Brand is now available online.

P0040169

Myles Brand was born on May 17, 1942 in Brooklyn, New York. He earned degrees from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of Rochester before beginning his career as a professor of philosophy. He soon moved into administration in addition to his teaching duties, among his positions serving as the dean for the Colleges of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arizona and as provost and vice-president for academic affairs at Ohio State University. From 1989-1994, he served as president of the University of Oregon.

Brand became the sixteenth president of Indiana University on August 1, 1994, a position he held until 2002. During his tenure as president, IU saw a great deal of growth both economically and academically. Among his achievements are growth in fundraising and the university endowment, research grants, the creation of the School of Informatics, development of the Central Indiana Life Sciences Initiative, and creation the IU Advanced Research and Technology Institute (now the IU Research and Technology Corp).

The School of Informatics, now the School of Informatics and Computing, was the first of its kind in the country and helped make IU a leader in the field of informatics and information technology. Brand also oversaw the gift of the Lilly Endowment to fund the Indiana Genomics Initiative (INGEN). At $105 million, it was the largest private gift in the university’s history to date. It is considered by some IU administrators to be one of Brand’s most lasting legacies.

Brand with the Board of Trustees and IU Administrators
Brand with the Board of Trustees and IU Administrators

During the course of his career, Brand served or headed a number of academic committees, including the American Council on Education (1994-1997), the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges (1995-1998,  and the Association of American Universities (1999-2000).

Upon his departure from Indiana University, Brand became the fourth president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in 2003 where he worked to bring reform to college athletics. Myles Brand passed away on September 16, 2009.

Contact the University Archives to learn more about the presidency of Myles Brand.