Tag Archives: Rotary Club of Madison Guest Speaker

Circus World Museum — Not Just Clowning Around

–submitted by Mary Helen Becker; photo by Mary O’Brien

Scott O'Donnell 8 12 2015Rotarians and guests were enlightened and delighted with Scott O’Donnell’s (right) lively presentation about The Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin, and his own lifelong fascination with the circus. Born in Canada, he claims to have moved to Wisconsin to escape  the harsh winters in Canada.

The program opened with President Ellsworth Brown wearing a clown nose while he introduced O’Donnell, Executive Director of the museum, which is a Wisconsin historical site. The music for the day was “The Man on the Flying Trapeze,” including a slide of the 19th  cemtury circus acrobat named Jules Leotard, whose name is used for the tights he developed.

O’Donnell did not have a circus background, as do many performers. Instead, he became interested in the circus as a child and turned into “the crazy kid at the back door of every circus.”  In college he studied Russian history but did his senior thesis on the animal rights movement in the circus.

He began his career as a clown, using dogs in his act. He refers to this period as having a “traveling dog pound,” relating how a woman left him “Tiny,” the largest great dane he ever saw.

Interested in show “business,” he owned his own circus for several years. He entertained the audience with circus history, including the origin of such terms as “making the nut,” or earning enough to pay the bills and get back the nuts which hold the wheels on the circus wagons. He also explained  the origin of pink lemonade, which sold much better at the circus than ordinary lemonade.

He described the daily programs at Circus World and other activities and features that await visitors. It seemed as if everyone in the audience wanted to head straight for Baraboo and the Circus World Museum. His presentation was about as much fun as a visit to the circus, but he left us all wanting more!

I Guess I Had to Do This

–submitted by Linda Baldwin; photo by John Bonsett-Veal

Coach Chryst (left) with Club President Ellsworth Brown

Coach Chryst (left) with Club President Ellsworth Brown

Paul Chryst, UW-Madison football coach, acknowledges he comes from a long line of Badgers and that he seemed destined to come here as head coach.

He’s proud to be here and represent the program every day.

Chyrst remarked that there’s something special about the UW team…it’s part of something bigger – the spirit of the state and the University.  “I’m a coach,” Chryst shrugged. “My dream job, well everyday I’ve coached, I loved it. I’ve been able to have a positive impact on young men.”

He says he’s at UW because of the body of work he’s done over time. “I’ve had a hand in helping those teams have success. But, so many people make for that success.”

The coach’s favorite job is to work with the players on the field. “None of us know how good players will be. But our job is to keep pushing them to be the best they can be. There’s no magic. You gotta work. Every season is a journey.”

“One challenge is to get to know your players as people, then you can coach them.” Chyrst moves on to recruiting. He says,  Recruiting is about finding the right fit. Guys who come here have to want to be a great player and get an education. We want high standards.”

Commenting on the cliché that there’s no “I” in team, Chryst disagreed. Individuals make up the team. They come from totally different backgrounds and come to work together bringing unique skills.

“Be you, but be the good you.”

When asked about the upcoming season, Chryst hopes for the team to come together. He has a group of experienced seniors, then the older guys who want their turn to lead and the younger players who will grow up. Chryst notes that the middle group is the key to our season success…can they make the jump?

Our thanks to WisconsinEye for videotaping our meeting today.  You can view the Coach’s presentation on this LINK to their website.


Paul Chryst (second row, left)

Paul Chryst (second row, left) served as bat boy for his neighborhood baseball team as a youngster. (1971)

Extensive Collection of University Archives

–submitted by Linda Maremont; photo by John Bonsett-Veal

David Null

UW Archivist David Null (right) pictured here with Club President Ellsworth Brown

David Null spoke to the club this week about the collections and services provided to the State by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Archives.  David has been Director of the University Archives and Records Management at UW-Madison since 2005, after being Acting Head since May of 2002.

The University Archives are frequently confused with the Historical Society Archives.  Though they are both located on the UW-Madison campus, they are different entities.  The University Archives are the official repository for the UW-Madison campus, the early University, UW System Administration and UW Colleges and the UW Extension.

The Archives have an extensive collection, including:  27,000 cubic feet of paper materials, 2,500,000 images, 1,400 oral histories, 10,000 audio/video tapes and films and various objects and memorabilia.  While they do not have a museum they are open to public to view any of their materials at their location in Steenbock Library.

The Archives have a social media presence on Tumblr, Flickr, Facebook and Twitter.  They post archival photographs and information on these sites as well as on their own website which are frequently shared and accessed across the globe.

An ongoing challenge is to determine what materials are worthy of digitization.  While this enables them to be viewed by a wider audience via the web, digitization is more time consuming and costly than most people realize.  The Aldo Leopold archives, for example, were the most used collection in paper and now can be accessed digitally all over the world.  However, the process took 2.5 years to complete at a cost of $220,000.

An additional challenge is to determine what items should be considered from an archival perspective that may never have been on paper, such as e-mails and social media communications.

New is Now

–submitted by Andrea Kaminski; photo by Pete Christianson

John Sheehan 7 22 2015In his presentation July 22, fellow Rotarian John Sheehan spoke about the soon-to-open UW Health at The American Center. Having grown up in Sun Prairie, Sheehan said the opportunity in 2013 to serve as President of this UW Health Center was what brought him back to Wisconsin from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Scheduled to open August 17 in the American Center Business Park, this innovative campus will take a unique approach to healthcare. The Center’s philosophy is that healthcare is a “holistic endeavor where our mission is to not only diagnose and treat you when you’re sick but also to partner with you in health and wellness.”

Sheehan explained the goals of UW Health at The American Center:

  1. To be a center for elective and ambulatory surgeries, freeing up space at UW Hospital for transplants and other more complicated procedures;
  2. To offer a new access point for UW Health on the growing east side;
  3. To provide outreach to new communities, offering programs focused on wellness and prevention. Sheehan noted that this focus will help keep healthcare costs down and is consistent with the Affordable Care Act’s focus on population health;
  4. To be a place that fosters innovation in healthcare delivery because of the facility’s smaller size and lean management.

The center will have three wings: an emergency department; a clinic and ambulatory wing with exam rooms, 56 beds and 14 operating rooms; and a sports performance and wellness wing, which will offer classes and programs focused on prevention. Staff will use state-of-the art technology, such as electronic service badges designed to monitor patient flow and address any bottlenecks. There will be 24/7 consulting services via “telemedicine” which will allow patients to consult with their providers.

Sheehan credited architectural and building partners Flad and Findorff for creating a facility with a healing, quiet environment with outstanding art and such amenities as roof-top gardens for growing herbs and produce. Yes, herbs and produce, which will be used for nutrition classes in the demonstration kitchen.

Sheehan was particularly proud of the active participation of Patient and Family Advisors at every step in the design of the facility and programs. He invited Rotary members to attend opening events, which begin July 31. For more information see the Center’s WEBSITE.

Meet Club President Ellsworth Brown

–submitted by Valerie Johnson; photo by John Bonsett-Veal

DSC_0038Rotarians got to know our 2015-16 President, Ellsworth Brown, better this week, when he pledged transparency, revealed his personal story and his goals for his Rotary leadership year.

If you love history, you may know him professionally.  Director of the Wisconsin Historical Society for 11 years, he is the former President and CEO, and trustee of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and also of Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh.     Prior to this, he was director of the Chicago Historical Society. Brown was president of the American Association of Museums from 1990 to 1992, and is a director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.

If you love Rotary, you’ll be glad to hear his goals for this year include designing a major international outreach project with financial support from various sources including Rotary International, as well as instituting a high impact project centered on “building a strong, diverse but united and sustainable Madison community.”  This second project will include viewing our activities through a racial lens and supporting specific job training and career pathing actions.

With 44 committees, fellowship groups and events throughout the year, steering the club is a major work effort for the President. Brown told the group he appreciates the depth of the membership, what each member offers Rotary, and how they connect the club to the community. “You work hard to say yes,” he said.

Telling about his work, Brown shared more about the Wisconsin Historical Society.  The society has a dozen historical sites around the state. They are the official state archives and 60% state funded. They hold four million photographs and three million texts in 38 linear miles of shelving among 12 library/archive sites. “We aim to be useful” is their simple motto. They hold Daniel Boone’s papers, the student non-violent coordinating committee materials, and colonial newspapers, among many other treasures. “We have museum to help ensure we live in a civil society,” Brown said.

Dorothy, his wife of 50 years and whom he met on his first day of first grade, was at the luncheon. They live in Fitchburg.

Brown concluded with a quote, “The past is never dead, it isn’t even past.”

Maraniss on Race and Sports in the South

–submitted by Donna Hurd; photo by Mike Engelberger

Andrew MaranissAndrew Maraniss, son of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Maraniss and trailblazing environmentalist Linda Maraniss, and native of Madison, presented a depiction of sports pioneering through the eyes of the first African-American basketball player to join the historically all white Southeastern Conference in college basketball, Perry Wallace.

The biography,  Strong Inside, chronicles the journey of a young athlete who with trepidation, but with great hope, accepted the invitation to join Vanderbilt University men’s basketball team in 1970.  During a time when many southern, college-bound African-American athletes headed north to play for teams that recognized their talent and championship prospects, Wallace took a chance, while knowing the obstacles he faced and stayed at home in Nashville.  Maraniss tells a story of great courage amidst what may have been insurmountable adversity for some.

Wallace tells of the indignations endured during this time; racist taunts, physical affronts and unsportsmanlike cheers upon leaving the game injured.  He still endured.  He felt that people can be treated in three ways: 1) well, 2) poorly or 3) not at all; he experienced all three.  While Vanderbilt’s Chancellor and Chaplain were encouraging and accepting, his student colleagues were not as accommodating.  Persistent isolation outside of the home basketball court, in classes and even in a place of worship, Wallace did not give up or out.  While that treatment was harsh and inhumane, Wallace had the most difficulty with the third type of treatment of not being treated at all.  Noting that having his humanity denied presented the harshest psychological and emotional challenge of them all.

While clearly a gifted athlete, Wallace’s academic aspirations were equally important to him.  When told not to worry about academically performing well, he refused to “trade one plantation for another.”

Upon graduation from Vanderbilt, Wallace took the opportunity to share his story with a Nashville journalist, the story which proved to be detrimental to Wallace and the newspaper, with many subscribers canceling their subscriptions and expressing their enthusiasm with his decision to leave the city.  While he understood that his remarks would not be initially welcomed, he was hopeful with the passage of time that the words would eventually resonate with people and his wish was realized when he returned to Vanderbilt to discuss the book.  After a standing room only discussion about the biography, Wallace was met with tearful regrets and apologies from many of the students who meted out some of the harsh treatment he endured.

Perry Wallace went on to become an attorney with the Justice Department and is currently a Law Professor at American University in Washington, D.C.

Maraniss interviewed Perry Wallace in 1989 for a black history class he was enrolled in at Vanderbilt.  Strong Inside, Maraniss’ first book, was the first sports related book to receive the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.