Two University of Iowa College of Education Alumni – Elizabeth Clothier (74BA, 94MA) and Orville “Speedy” Townsend (67BS, 72MA) – are especially passionate about giving back and helping others.
That is why Clothier and Townsend were among the eight University of Iowa alumni honored during the 2023 Eight Over 80 Awards Celebration, hosted by the UI Center for Advancement.
Clothier received her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education in 1974, and two Master of Arts degrees - one in Elementary Education and another in the former Early Childhood and Elementary Education program, both in 1994. Townsend received his Bachelor of Arts in Physical Education with certification in Secondary Education in 1967, and a Master of Arts in Counselor Education and Rehabilitation Counseling in 1972.
Alumni are chosen for this recognition because they are Hawkeyes who give back throughout their lives.
They are leaders in their professions. They are generous with their time and talent. They are passionate about things they love—especially anything black and gold. And they are Hawkeyes who continue to make an impact well beyond retirement.
These Iowa alumni, age 80 and over, carry the Hawkeye spirit of achievement and continue to help others.
A teacher in the Iowa City Community School District for 28 years, Clothier used her experience as a United Kingdom native becoming a U.S. citizen to teach third-grade classes about citizenship.
For Clothier, service learning was a major focus in the classroom—whether it was assembling book kits for families of newborns through the Books for Babies program or baking and delivering bread through the Iowa City Free Lunch Program. Her volunteerism extended beyond the classroom through organizations such as the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, the University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art, and mentorship of elementary student teachers through the UI College of Education.
Since retiring from the classroom in 2002, Clothier has continued to give back to her community through her volunteerism. She’s been an integral member of the Iowa City Free Lunch Program, and she also delivers meals through Meals on Wheels to individuals at home who are unable to purchase or prepare their own meals. Clothier also works with the Compeer Program, which matches community volunteers with adults receiving mental health treatment to develop structured friendships and combat loneliness and isolation.
Orville “Speedy” Townsend
A former student-athlete who came to the University of Iowa on a football scholarship, Townsend made an indelible impact on the Hawkeye state through his work at Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services. Townsend worked for the organization for 42 years—including as a supervisor for 25 years in the Iowa City office.
Community involvement is something that has always been important to Townsend. The former school board member and leader for the Iowa Black Alumni Association (IBAA) also has served as an advocate and expert for inclusion initiatives across the UI campus and Iowa City community.
Today, Townsend continues to sit on numerous boards and committees for the betterment of the university and Iowa City community. He’s vice chair of both the Iowa City Police Review Board and Black Voices Project, and Townsend is a member of the Hawkeye Connections Membership Program—which works to connect Iowa’s student-athletes with faculty, staff, and local community leaders. Additionally, Townsend continues to be an integral member of IBAA as it works to recognize the achievements and service of Black students and alumni.
To learn about all eight honorees, read this story.