Joan Dee (JoDee) Brockman Rottler

Honored by:Steven P. Rottler and Mary Sawyer, Edna Wiser, Students from the fall 1998 Women and Religion class, and other colleagues and students
Brick location:Bench and A:28  map

Honored by her husband, Steven P. Rottler

A granite bench bordering the Plaza of Heroines has been engraved in memory of Joan Dee Brockman Rottler.

Submitted on 4/17/02

Honored by her colleagues and students

In 1987, the Religious Studies Program offered JoDee a one-semester, temporary appointment. She stayed for eleven years. JoDee's presence brought a whole new dimension to our department and we were all - students and colleagues alike - the richer for it.

She was a natural. She loved ideas, loved books, loved to study religion, and to teach about religion; loved myth and ritual and feminine spiritual imagery--and joyfully shared all her loves with anyone who cared to listen. Teaching for JoDee was far more than imparting information, far more than sharpening critical thinking skills. Teaching also meant cultivating an empathetic approach to the wondrous variety of people's worldviews. It meant engaging students holistically, with equal regard for heart and mind. It meant helping them to integrate all of their life experiences in a way that enabled them to become more capable members of our society and more compassionate citizens of the world.

For many young people - especially those who took her Women and Religion class - having JoDee as their teacher was a life-giving affirmation. For others - particularly those in her introductory courses on World Religions and Religion in America - it was a substantial challenge to be confronted with new paradigms and alternative belief systems.

Indeed, JoDee's very self-presentation was often a challenge: She was a confident, wise, justice-minded, feminist woman - an uncommon experience for many students at a school of science and technology. Invariably, the students were stretched by their encounter with JoDee. In spite of reluctance and resistance on the part of some, they grew both personally and intellectually.

It is to honor JoDee's gifts to her students that a memorial scholarship fund has been established in her name through the ISU Foundation.

Teaching, for JoDee, was a life's vocation, and one she was wont to relinquish. Throughout her years of illness, her devotion to teaching was a source of amazement for myself and our colleagues. As sick as she was, she came to Iowa State every day that she could muster the energy, to be in the classroom with her students.

When she lost her hair from the chemotherapy, JoDee began wearing a variety of hats and often when she arrived on campus I could tell what kind of day she was having by the degree of droopiness of her hat brim. Many a day she would walk, slowly and agonizingly, from her office to the classroom. She would move to the front of the room, sit down at the desk facing her students, take a deep breath, and begin.

Gradually, her voice would grow stronger and her gestures become more animated. She would get up out of her chair and walk toward her students, asking probing questions, telling her stories, and inviting them to tell her their stories in return.

It came to me on one such day that, for JoDee, the classroom was as much a sanctuary as was a field of wild flowers or a star-studded night sky; that these were graced moments; that we had entered into sacred time and space.

And when I looked closely, I am quite certain that I saw the brim of her hat turning upwards, ever so slightly, and I knew then that JoDee, in that time and space, was free and whole as she imparted to her students unforgettable lessons of courage, dignity, dedication, and love. JoDee died of breast cancer November 21, 1998.

Submitted on 11/28/1998