IUSB remembers two beloved professors who recently passed away

NOW: IUSB remembers two beloved professors who recently passed away

SOUTH BEND, Ind.-- Students and staff at Indiana University South Bend (IUSB) were already planning to celebrate the life and legacy of art professor Dora Natella. But now, they're celebrating someone else as well, communications professor Kim McInerny died from cancer Monday morning.  

“For both Kim and Dora, they were both very smart, very tenacious, wickedly smart women, and we’re going to feel their loss for a very long time,” said Tami Martinez, assistant dean at the Raclin School of the Arts at IUSB.  

McInerny’s death was a shock to the IUSB faculty.  

“She was battling cancer, along with Dora,” Martinez said. “They became very close as they would connect through their treatments and all of their struggles. And they understood each other, not just from the academic standpoint of things and their teaching and their commitment to their own craft, as well as their commitment to students and working with students. But they also really connected their struggle, their battle, if you will, with cancer.”  

And Natella, who died last month, was set to be honored Monday. She was a renowned sculptor, with two works on IUSB’s campus.  

“They just weren’t statues. They looked as if they were breathing. They were alive. That’s part of the legacy—she created work that will live forever,” said Marvin Curtis, retired dean emeritus at IUSB.

“She did—wow—such an amazing job of capturing expression,” Martinez said. “And I always thought that her ability to capture the human expression was a result of her careful observation, as well as the research that she did in the characters that she sculpted.”

Natella was raised in Italy, and studied sculpture in Naples, according to her personal website. She started at IUSB in 2004 and has been there ever since.  

“You miss that talent, you know? That incredible talent that she had as an artist,” said Jorge Muniz, former interim dean and current professor of music at IUSB. “But also, you miss the human part. She was a great friend, a very profound person in the way she understood the world and the arts, and I’m going to miss very much our conversations.”  

She retired after her cancer diagnosis last year, but no one was prepared for her sudden death last month in a crash on the Indiana Toll Road.  

“The artwork is artwork. That’ll be there forever,” Curtis said. “But the students that she touched, who have gone onto careers, who also were introduced to sculpture for the first time.”

And on the day the university was set to honor Natella, they were dealt another blow: the loss of Kim McInerny.

“I have no idea if there is an afterlife or whatever, but if there is, I'd like to think that Kim and Dora can watch the service together, somehow, and they can make good trouble where they are, wherever they may be,” Martinez said. “We take some sort of hope, perhaps, in that thought.”  

In honor of the late professor, a woman in the arts at IUSB can now apply for the Dora Natella Endowed Fine Arts Scholarship.  

Faculty said it will be an annual memorial donation from Natella’s family.

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