Photo: DMACC English Professor and London Study Abroad Program Coordinator Lauren Rice (front row, far left) led the group together with DMACC Carroll Campus English and History Associate Professor Bethany Sweeney (front row, second from left). Students in the group were (pictured front row, third from left to right) Rachel Geyer, Newton (Newton Campus), Eric Spenceri, Des Moines (Ankeny Campus); Josie Coates, Indianola (West Campus); Bhattarai Bidhya, Des Moines (Urban Campus); Zoey Chumbley, Grimes (Ankeny Campus); Parker Walden, Nevada (Ames Hunziker Center); Rebekah Johnson, Carlisle (Ankeny Campus); Talissa Vegas, Des Moines (Ankeny Campus); and (back row, left to right) Grace Carlson, Urbandale (Ankeny Campus), Olivia Rowling, Des Moines (Ankeny Campus), Carlos Valle, Carroll (Carroll Campus), Ethan Jorgensen, Urbandale (West Campus), Spencer Swanson, Bondurant (Ankeny Campus), Aspen Winey, Carroll (Carroll Campus); Seth Franklin, Altoona (Ankeny Campus); Aubree Klug, Grimes (Ankeny Campus); Dakota Egenes, Hawarden (Boone Campus); Jeff Helgren, Dallas Center (Ankeny Campus); Nathan Dittmer, Grimes (Ankeny Campus); Aniyah Loftus, Vancouver, BC (Boone Campus); Cheyenne Wray, Waukee (West Campus); and Maddy Buys, Prairie City (Ankeny Campus). Not pictured was Samira Sayeed, Des Moines (Ankeny Campus).
Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) has announced that a woman who was killed in a hit-and-run incident Sunday in Des Moines was a faculty member. Thirty-eight-year-old Professor Lauren Rice had been a long-time member of the English department at the Newton campus and coordinator of their London Study Abroad Program. Rice had also been instrumental in the organization of DMACC’s annual Celebration of Literary Arts Festival. She, along with another instructor, Bethany Sweeney of the Carroll campus, and 23 DMACC students, had recently returned from their spring 2020 London trip and she had just emerged from a self-quarantine at home following her return. “We are incredibly saddened by the tragic and senseless loss of Professor Lauren Rice, who was a beloved member of our DMACC community and who impacted the lives of many DMACC students throughout the years,” says President, Rob Denson. Newton Campus Provost, Joe DeHart, says Rice was “an exceptional teacher and had a great passion for her students.” Authorities are reporting they believe Sunday’s incident was intentional and have arrested 49-year-old Jason Robert Sassman. Police says Sassman traveled through several yards and struck a utility pole before hitting Rice and her dog, Holiday, killing both. He fled the scene in his pickup, and then on foot when it became disabled. He was arrested shortly after and has been charged with first-degree murder and animal neglect.