The character of a state is determined by the character of the people who inhabit it.…
from the Biographical Dictionary of Iowa
Iowa State University’s people have contributed greatly to Iowa, the nation and the global community. Through invention, instruction, innovation, and inspiration, Iowa State’s campus cultural heritage and core values have been expressed through these influential person’s contributions. The Iowa State University Biographical Dictionary publication, an undertaking begun in 2014, highlights an overview of those persons and their outstanding accomplishments thus weaving Iowa State’s land-grant history into the broader history of academics and the nation.
“Iowa State University is a very special place, full of history. But what truly makes it unique is a rare combination of campus beauty, the opportunity to be a part of the land-grant experiment, and to create a progressive and inventive spirit that we call the Cyclone experience. Appreciate what we have here, for it is indeed, one of a kind.” -Tanya Zanish-Belcher, former project coordinator
The history of Iowa State University spans over 160 years and includes the lives of thousands of individuals who were associated with the University. As a way of expanding our knowledge about the most significant contributors to the life of the University, the Iowa State University Biographical Dictionary project serves as an online reference work intended for anyone interested in learning more about the significant women and men who contributed to the growth of Iowa State University from its inception in 1858 through the early years of the 21st century.
About the Project
This project includes nearly 500 people, both deceased and living authored by over 150 authors. Each entry follows the Iowa Biographical Dictionary model, and includes the following information: name, date of birth/death, quick facts, education, career and contribution to Iowa State. Each essay, ranging in length from 750-1000 words, summarizes the life of the subject and describe their most significant contributions as a part of the Iowa State University family. A brief listing of primary and/or secondary sources accompanies each essay. This biographical dictionary also includes Iowa State-related biographies published in the Iowa Biographical Dictionary and Iowan’s Who Have Made a Difference, although some may be amended to pertain more to the Iowa State impact of the individual. Photographs and portraits of selected individuals and/or their contribution are included, as determined by availability.
The co-editors include Allison Sheridan, curator, University Museums, who also implemented the online publication, and Leo Landis, State Historical Society of Iowa. The publisher is University Museums, however this project is jointly undertaken by University Museums, ISU Library, and the former Office of the Executive Vice President for Business and Finance. The Iowa State University Biographical Dictionary Committee included: Lynette Pohlman, Project Coordinator, University Museums, ISU; Tanya Zanish-Belcher, Project Coordinator, Wake Forest University (formerly Special Collection, ISU); Brad Kuennen, Library, College of Veterinary Medicine, (former University Archivist); Carole Custer, University Marketing, ISU; Ed Goedeken, Professor, ISU Library; Carole Gieseke, formerly of the Alumni Association, ISU; Warren Madden, former Executive Vice President for Business and Finance, ISU; Pamela Riney-Kehrberg, Chair History Department, ISU; Jerome Thompson, retired curator, State Historical Society of Iowa.
The basic criteria for determining who was considered:
Faculty or staff member where the individual gained statewide, national, or international prominence.
A former student or alumnus recognizable as an Iowa Stater who gained statewide, national, or international prominence.
Faculty or staff member, or student, alumnus, or public figure with a long-term and significant impact on Iowa State’s cultural heritage.
Biographical entries are created by volunteer authors from a selected pool of writers, professionals working in the field of history, and graduate students.
Entries appear randomly, not in alphabetical order. You can search for tags (i.e. Alumni, Chemistry, Inventor, etc.) or search by name, author, or college association.
The alumni, students, staff and faculty of Iowa State University have made tremendous contributions to the state, nation and the world. This biographical dictionary is dedicated to sharing the stories of those individuals who have graced our campus at one time or another and who have demonstrated unique service to the university. The Iowa State University Biographical Dictionary provides an exceedingly useful reference work that will serve as a reliable source for biographical information about the men and women whose life and work contributed to the greatness of Iowa State University. The goal of this project is to provide a high level of accessibility to information, conservation of institutional history, and promotion of Iowa State heritage, culture and accomplishments.
Thank you to all the authors who have contributed to this project, especially those who took on authorship of multiple entries. Special thanks to Marv Bergman for his guidance, and former project interns Maggie Curry, Sarah Bartlett and Ben Mayer for their invaluable contributions to this project’s success.
Periodically, over 200 additional entries will be added as edited from a currently established list created by the selection committee.
The selection committee strived to represent a vast cross section of Iowa State, however we recognize that there are so many more influential individuals that have impacted the 160 years of our University. Suggestions for additional entries are not being entertained at this time.
Since this project began in 2013 and stretched over eight years, some information may by out of date. All life dates are current as of the August 1, 2021 initial publication of this digital material. To suggest an edit or correction to an existing entry, please email editor Allison Sheridan at [email protected].