MUM Flips the Switch on New Solar Array

MUM Flips the Switch on New Solar Array

Aerial view of the new solar array west of campus (photo by Rene Holmberg – First Aerial Drone Media Service and Ken West)
(see large view of all photos)


Guests at the inaugural celebration, from left to right: Iowa 2nd district US Representative Dave Loebsack, Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy, Troy and Amy Van Beek, Tom Factor, John Hagelin (Photo by Ken West)


President John Hagelin introducing the solar array (Photo by Ken West)


On the site of the MEG’Array Solar Power Plant: John Hagelin, Tom Factor, Troy Van Beek, Amy Van Beek (Photo by Ken West)


Tom and Roxanne Factor on the newly-built lookout on the Fairfield Loop Trail with the MEG’Array Solar Power Plant in the background

MUM inaugurated its new 1.1-megawatt, five-acre solar array west of campus on December 14, after a ceremony and official launch by President John Hagelin. The new solar array is designed to provide one-third of all the electricity used by MUM.

The MEG’Array Solar Power Plant is the first system in the Midwest to combine two leading-edge technologies on a large scale: active tracking and vanadium-flow batteries. In addition, the power plant is run by an artificial intelligence learning computer to optimize energy production and consumption.

The active tracking system allows the panels to follow the sun as it moves across the sky, yielding 15-20 percent more energy than a fixed tilt array. The system also enables each row to operate independently to further optimize solar production. In addition, the sensors of the solar array can detect strong winds, storms, snow, and floods and direct the panels to rotate for protection. The vanadium-flow batteries are capable of operating for decades without any loss of efficiency and are very safe.

“It’s an important day in the history of the university’s quest to achieve a carbon neutral campus within the next eight years and to contribute to a healthy and sustainable planet,” said President John Hagelin. He also said that with the new array, 43 percent of MUM’s electricity usage will come from renewable sources, and the array is expandable.

The solar array was installed by Ideal Energy, a Fairfield company founded in 2009 by MUM alumni Troy and Amy (Greenfield) Van Beek.

The MEG’Array Solar Power Plant is owned and operated by an Iowa LLC delivering electricity at a cost savings to the university. MUM Trustee Tom Factor is the managing partner of the LLC that owns and operates the MEG’Array. He began his involvement in renewable energy at MUM in 1992 and has since pioneered the development of 60 Midwest wind farms generating over 8,000 megawatts of wind power. He now serves as a trustee with a focus on helping the university achieve its goal of carbon neutrality.

The MEG’Array Solar Power Plant will serve as an energy research facility, with studies being conducted by Ideal Energy, MUM’s Sustainable Living Department, and the Iowa Economic Development Association. This project represents a unique leadership role for the university and community, and the research it generates will help validate solar energy as a solution for colleges, factories, and government policy makers.

Jeroen Stok—The Art of Transformation

Jeroen Stok—The Art of Transformation

Jeroen Stok in his studio


Outdoor stainless steel sculpture titled “Tulip” in the town of Avehoorn


A small steel sculpture titled “Wave” in a private collection


Glass and steel memorial

Jeroen Stok’s stainless steel sculptures of tulips, birds, and abstract objects are on display at dozens of public places as well as private collections in the Netherlands. Throughout his career, he has explored different techniques and materials and their interaction with light. “I always try to find the edge and go to the limit of what’s possible for that material,” he said.

Jeroen attended the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, but when he learned the Transcendental Meditation® technique at 19 the course of his life changed. He soon learned the TM-Sidhi® program and applied to MIU. He studied art during the 1983-84 academic year and, in his spare time, he began making light fixtures out of recycled objects which led to his first installation at the MIU student gallery.

After returning home, he continued to make sculptures using paper and bamboo combined with a light source; however, the fragility of the materials presented too many limitations. That’s when he turned to steel. His father owned a steel factory and he was already familiar with the material. Soon commissions for large outdoor sculptures started coming in from municipal governments and businesses.

Since 1989 Jeroen has lived in a small community of Transcendental Meditation practitioners in the town of Lelystad, where he attends group practice of the TM-Sidhi program daily. In describing the influence of his long-time TM® practice on his art, he said the following.

“I am drawn to the light, the positive, the finer levels of things, the details. One of the themes in my work is flowers, especially the blossoming of a flower from a bud. That moment of transformation symbolizes your own self being expressed into the world.”

In recent years, Jeroen’s art work has included designing steel and glass monuments and memorials. “I enjoy the contact with people, he said. “It’s emotional and rewarding to work for people who lost their loved ones. While I am serving other people, I am also enriching myself instead of doing art for my ego.”

Dr. David Leffler—Promoting Invincible Defense Through Science and Music

Dr. David Leffler—Promoting Invincible Defense Through Science and Music

MUM alumnus David Leffler, PhD 


The Invincible Defense Technology applied to the traditional military model


Latin American Security Forces using Invincible Defense Technology to reduce collective social tensions


The Dave Leffler Quartet: Dave Leffler on vocals, keyboard, and guitar, Bill Vesely on flute, Tim Laughrin on bass guitar, and Steve Jeffries on drums and saxophone

MUM alumnus David Leffler is a founding member and executive director of the Center for Advanced Military Science(CAMS) at MUM, and has published over 1,400 articles worldwide on Invincible Defense Technology (IDT) and the Transcendental Meditation® program. Some of his most recent articles referenced the recent murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, offering IDT as a solution to terrorism.

Dr. Leffler began his career as a musician and, while serving in the US Air Force, he played with various Air Force bands helping with recruitment, entertaining troops, and representing the US around the world. He earned a BA in education from MIU in 1985, a Masters of Music from New Mexico University in 1987, and an MA in the Science of Creative Intelligence® from MIU in 1989.

While taking the TM-Sidhi® course, Dr. Leffler heard a lecture by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi about the Vedic approach to military defense. He became inspired to use his experience in the US Armed Forces and his interest in the Science of Creative Intelligence to study Maharishi’s technologies for invincible defense. He joined CAMS and completed a PhD degree in Consciousness-BasedSM military defense at The Union Institute & University in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Over the past 20 years, he has been promoting the TM®technique as a means of stress reduction, conflict resolution, and relief from post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition to publishing articles, he has spoken at military-related institutions in the US as well as in Russia and South Korea.

“There have been over 50 studies done on the Maharishi Effect,” said Dr. Leffler. “I try to get the word out and make military leaders aware of these studies and their implications.”

Dr. Leffler has not given up playing music and has performed with the Dave Leffler Jazz Quartet in Fairfield, as well as with his wife Arlene. He has also found that playing music has helped him connect with military leaders around the world. “Music helps me promote TM,” he said. “You can reach people’s hearts through music.”

Nynke Passi Publishes Poem in Leading Literary Magazine

Nynke Passi Publishes Poem in Leading Literary Magazine

MUM Professor Nynke Passi


Performing in the play Misalliance by George Bernard Shaw as an MIU student with Mike Gibbons


With students in a memoir writing class

MUM alumna and faculty member Nynke Passi recently published a poem in issue 30:3 of CALYX, a prestigious magazine featuring literature and art by women. Her writing has been published in literary magazines such as Gulf Coast, Red River Reviewand The Anthology of New England Writers. Her poems have also appeared in national anthologies including River of Earth and Sky: Poems for the Twenty-First Century, Carrying the Branch: Poets in Search of Peace, and the just published Allegro & Adagio: Dance Poems.

Growing up in the Netherlands, Mrs. Passi was an imaginative child and enjoyed writing magical tales and poems. At age seven, she told her mother that she wanted to be a writer.

Mrs. Passi has practiced the Transcendental Meditation®technique since age 12, and came to MIU at her mother’s suggestion. She graduated with a BA in literature and a minor in theater in 1986. Her MIU professor Mark Spragg encouraged her to keep studying writing, so she earned an MA in creative writing from San Francisco State University in 1992.

While working for the New England Writers’ Association, Mrs. Passi was continually exposed to the work of accomplished poets, and her own poetry began to flourish. In 1998 she came to MUM to teach creative writing. Over the past 20 years she has developed and taught a variety of courses, including creative process, graphic narrative, poetry, poetry and transcendence, memoir writing, personal essay, fiction, and travel writing.

Mrs. Passi is director of MUM’s undergraduate Creative Writing Program and is currently developing an MFA in Creative Writing, which will be a sister program to the low residency David Lynch MFA in Screenwriting directed by Dorothy Rompalske. Mrs. Passi is also recipient of the MUM alumni award and three student appreciation awards.

Mrs. Passi often draws inspiration from her personal and spiritual experiences, family, and nature. “All these years of practicing TM definitely had a big impact on my writing,” she said. “There is always something in me that is fascinated with the transcendent, something silent or empty at the heart of things, and all my poems dance around that.”

She is currently completing her first book of poetry, as well as a chapbook of a personal essay that was a finalist in the 2014 Jeffrey E. Smith Editor’s Prize of The Missouri Review. Her tale is based on a true story of her father’s best friend, a Frisian farmer who developed a friendship with a wild swan that followed him around after the death of his daughter.