Motivated by the knowledge that not all children have equal academic opportunities, Miriam Genevieve Fett Iben dedicated her career to education. She wanted to help young students and their parents connect with resources that could help them further their success in school and in life. Dr. Iben also understood that children had to be stimulated to want to learn for her teachings to be effective; just pressuring them to do well wasn’t going to yield results. With those ideals in mind, Dr. Iben set out into the field. She started as a teacher in public schools in Lincoln, Massachusetts, and Champaign, Illinois, after which she became a secretary and adjunct professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, a research associate at the Pennsylvania State University, and a researcher at Niigata University in Japan. Although she retired from full-time work in 1991, she continues to be involved as a consultant to public schools and universities around the U.S., Australia, and Japan.
The highlight of Dr. Iben’s career was seeing the joy of her students as they learned new things. She went above and beyond to make sure every one of them had a positive educational experience. Dr. Iben even went to her students’ houses sometimes and brought them books and materials. She is very proud of the lifelong relationships she built over the years.
Dr. Iben prepared for her endeavors by earning a Bachelor of Science, with honors, from Brandeis University. She also obtained both a Master of Education and an EdD in administration from the University of Illinois in 1981 and 1985, respectively. To enhance her professional standing, she became certified as an administrator, supervisor, and science and secondary mathematics teacher in the state of Illinois.
As a testament to Dr. Iben’s hard work and dedication, she was honored with a number of accolades over the years. She was notably a Mallot Scholar and a State of Illinois Scholar, as well as the recipient of the President’s Medal from Kyoto University in Japan. Her achievements were featured in Who’s Who in the Midwest and Who’s Who of American Women. If Dr. Iben could offer some advice to the younger generations, it would be to have patience and imagination.
When Dr. Iben has spare time, she enjoys being active in her community. She has been the president emeritus of the Krannert Art Museum Council since 1997, a board member for the Champaign County Design and Conservation Foundation since 1996, and the president of the Champaign Social Science Club since 1995, among other positions.