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A Sesquicentennial History of Iowa State University: Tradition and Transformation

A Sesquicentennial History of Iowa State University: Tradition and Transformation

Dorothy Schwieder (Editor), Gretchen Van Houten (Editor)

ISBN: 978-0-813-81651-7

Jan 2007, Wiley-Blackwell

368 pages

Select type: Hardcover

Out of stock



As centerpiece to its sesquicentennial celebration in 2007-08, Iowa State University has commissioned a book to record, for the first time, the events and themes of the second half of the 20th century. Emphasizing the years from 1940-2000, this book builds on an earlier history of the University by Earle Ross. The authors, familiar with (knowledgeable about) ISU and expert in their subject area, have meticulously researched and skillfully written ten chapters that treat specific decades, particular administrations, or key topics of interest.

Written in a lively narrative style, this anthology encompasses a wealth of information. The authors have focused on appealing to the largest possible audience of Iowa State University supporters and well-wishers: alumni, faculty and staff, and fans throughout the state of Iowa. Some will want to read it from cover to cover; others will dip in to relive their years on campus or to pursue a favorite topic like student life or athletics. To enhance the historical narrative, entertaining vignettes about students, faculty and administrative leaders, and alumni appear throughout the book.

Generously illustrated with black-and-white photographs, this book invites casual browsing. Its attractive design increases visual appeal by using a clean, open layout and readable type. To ensure its value as a gift book, a handsome full-color jacket and 8 x 11 format make it suitable for coffee table display wherever loyal Iowa Staters gather.

Part 1 contains 4 chapters, leading off with a survey of the major developments of Iowa State College’s first 80 years, followed by a chronological approach to the years from 1940 forward that highlights presidential administrations. Part 2 broadens the book’s coverage with 6 chapters telling the ISU story from the perspective of topics such as the physical landscape of campus, the national and international impacts of the University, and Iowa State athletics through the years.

This broad-brushed overview of ISU history is rich with detail yet emphasizes the grand themes that defined the nation’s first land-grant university.


Chapter 1: Foundation of the People’s College: The Early Years of Iowa State by Pamela Riney-Kehrberg, Director of the Program in Agricultural History and Rural Studies and Professor, Department of History, Iowa State University.

• From idea to educational institution.

• An early pioneer in co-education.

• “Science with Practice”.

• Weathering World War and Great Depression.

Chapter 2: Iowa State at Mid-Century: The Friley and Hilton Years by Dorothy Schwieder, University University Professor Emerita of History, Iowa State University.

• From inward focus to major university.

• Iowa State’s contributions to WW II, its effect on campus life.

• Student fun: panty raids in the 50s.

• The beginning of the Iowa State Center.

Chapter 3: Science with Humanity: The Parks Years by David Hamilton, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Kentucky, Lexington.

• The “new humanism” in teaching and research, broadening the curriculum.

• Enrollment explosions, massive rebuilding on campus.

• Student protest: dormitory hours to Vietnam War.

• The impacts of inflation and recession.

Chapter 4: Strategic Focus and Accountability: The Eaton-Jischke Years by Charles M. Dobbs, Professor of History, Iowa State University.

• Reasserting the science and technology mission.

• The need for major fund-raising campaigns.

• Strategic planning and resulting controversy.

• The Knoll as a center of community and university social activity.


Chapter 5: Loyal and Forever True: Student Life at Iowa State University by Jenny Barker Devine, PhD Candidate, Agricultural History and Rural Studies Program, Iowa State University.

• Clubs and activities to suit every taste.

• The GI Bill, Pammel Court.

• Effects of the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War.

• Changing student demographics in the 70s and 80s—women in the sciences, off-campus living, etc.

Chapter 6: Athletics at Iowa State University by Tom Kroeschell, Associate Athletics Director for Media Relations, Iowa State University.

• From Pop Warner to the Big Twelve Conference.

• Outstanding athletes and personalities.

• Details of memorable contests.

• From Clyde William’s Field to Jack Trice Stadium.

Chapter 7: Iowa State Faculty: The People and the Disciplines by Amy Bix, Associate Professor of History and Co-director, Program in the History of Science and Technology, Iowa State University.

• Professionalization of the faculty: changing expectations.

• Gender and race diversification.

• Challenges in formalization of personnel procedures.

• Numerical expansion of faculty and development of new areas of teaching and research.

Chapter 8: The People’s University: Iowa State Cooperative Extension and Outreach by J. L. Anderson, Assistant Professor of History, University of West Georgia.

• Taking campus expertise to the people of Iowa, commitment to service.

• From Corn Trains to public-private partnerships.

• Addressing environmental concerns, farm crisis of the 80s.

• WOI TV and radio.

Chapter 9: The Practical and the Picturesque: The Iowa State Campus by Peter Butler, Lecturer in Landscape Architecture, Iowa State University.

• One of the most beautiful campuses in the United States.

• Embodiment of ideal relationship between agriculture and nature, urban grid and central park, picturesque and pragmatic.

• The creation of Lake LaVerne.

• Accommodating the automobile and other cultural changes.

Chapter 10: Impacts of Iowa State University: Its National and International Presence and Its Enduring Legacies by John R. Anderson, Assistant to the President for Communications, Iowa State University.

• ISU’s many “firsts” from electronic digital computer to artist-in-residence.

• The Ames Laboratory’s role in the Manhattan Project (atomic bomb).

• Lasting symbols: the campanile, the Marston water tower.

• Earl Heady and ISU’s entry into the world of international agriculture.

Afterword: Poised for the Future by Gregory L. Geoffroy, President of Iowa State University.

• Commitment to excellence.

• New centers, new programs, new services for students.

• Going forward: the significance of transformation