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Boylan, David R. Jr.

Published onJul 30, 2021
Boylan, David R. Jr.

(July 22, 1922 – )

Quick Facts

Boylan was the sixth Dean of the College of Engineering (1970-1988) and saw high enrollment during his tenure.


David R. Boylan, Dean , College of Engineering, 1970-1988, 1988 by Dimitar Krustev (Bulgarian-American, 1920 - 2013). Oil on canvas.  Commissioned by the College of Engineering. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. U88.35

Location: Iowa State University, Marston Hall, 3rd floor

David Ray Boylan, Jr. was born July 22, 1922 in Belleville, Kansas. He attended Kansas City, Kansas, Junior College (1939-1940) and received his BS in Chemical Engineering (1943) from the University of Kansas and his PhD in Chemical Engineering (1952) from Iowa State University.

Prior to coming to Iowa State, Boylan was an Instructor at the University of Kansas (1942-1943). He then held jobs in industry as a Project Engineer (1943-1947) at the General Chemical Company, a Senior Engineer (1947) at the American Cyanamid Company, and a Plant Manager (1947-1948) at the Arlin Chemical Company, all three in New Jersey. He also did graduate work at the Newark College of Engineering (1946-1947).

Boylan came to Iowa State College in 1948 to pursue his PhD and joined the staff of the Chemical Engineering Department as an Assistant Professor and later Instructor, maintaining a heavy teaching load of basic engineering science courses such as Statics while working toward his degree. Upon completion in 1952, his appointment was split half-time as Assistant Professor in Chemical Engineering and half-time as a researcher at the Iowa Engineering Experiment Station on campus.

He became Associate Professor (1955), Professor (1956) and Associate Director of the Engineering Experiment Station (1959-1966); upon the Station’s name change to the Engineering Research Institute in 1966, he was named Director (1966-1971, 1980-1988), responsible for all research programs in the College of Engineering.

In addition to his position as Director of the Engineering Research Institute, Boylan succeeded George R. Town to become the sixth Dean of the College of Engineering (1970-1988). During this time, enrollment climbed to very high levels and many student’s degree progress slowed as the classes they needed were often full. Dr. Boylan instituted an enrollment management plan that reorganized the process of assigning students to oversubscribed classes, persuading the university to add 40 new engineering faculty positions. Dr. Boylan also started the Department of Freshman Engineering (1974) to advise incoming students on classes, pioneered a new computerized budgeting system for the college that was later adopted by the university, and established the Marston Club to recognize major college supporters. After stepping down as Dean (1988), he returned to the faculty as Professor of the Chemical Engineering and Engineering Fundamentals until his retirement (1992).


Boylan’s major research interests were in chemical plant processes and design, filtration, flow of fluids, and fertilizer processes, particularly soluble phosphates and the recovery of sulfur. This led to six patents, including a process to recover sulfur and lime from naturally occurring gypsum. He also published extensively in engineering journals. Boylan did frequent consulting, including a study of fertilizer technology and an evaluation of phosphate deposits in Tunisia.

Dr. Boylan was active in numerous professional organizations, including the American Chemical Society, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (Fellow 1975), the American Society of Engineering Education, American Association for the Advance of Science (Fellow 1981), and the National Society of Professional Engineers (Vice President, 1986). He was a registered Professional Engineer in the states of Iowa and Pennsylvania.

He holds membership in the engineering honor societies Sigma Tau and Tau Beta Pi, the chemistry recognition society Phi Lambda Upsilon, the chemical engineering honorary Omega Chi Epsilon, and Phi Kappa Phi scholastic honorary. Dr. Boylan was on the Board of Directors of the ISU Research Foundation and the Governor’s Science Advisory Committee, the Regional Deputy Director of the Office of Emergency Transportation of the U.S. Department of Transportation, a Chairman of the National Energy Advisory Council, and a member of the Iowa Highway Research Board, the Iowa Engineering Society, and the Osborn Research Club.

Honors and awards received by Dr. Boylan include Outstanding Educators of America (1950), the Faculty Citation (1970), American Chemical Society’s Division of Fertilizer and Soil Chemistry Merit Award (1987, given only twice previously), Dean of the Outstanding Campus Representative (ASEE, 1988), and the University of Kansas School of Engineering Distinguished Engineering Service Award (1989).

The David R. Boylan Eminent Faculty Award for Research was established at Iowa State to recognize outstanding research contributions by engineering faculty; Boylan himself was the first recipient in 1988, which includes a monetary gift and a bronze sculpture of the four Muses from the east face of Marston Hall (one of one hundred made).

The Marston Muses, c. 1988 by Herman L. Deaton. Cast Bronze and Wood. Gift of the College of Engineering in the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Ames, IA. U2003.4

He served as a member of the faculty (1992-1993) and Interim President (1993-1994) of Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary in Ankeny, IA, and is currently the Special Counselor to the President there (1994 – ).

Boylan married Juanita R. Sheridan in March 1944, and they had four children: Sharon R., Gerald R., Elizabeth A., and Lisa D.

Dr. Boylan and his family live in Ames.

Selected Source

David Boylan Papers, RS 11/01/15, University Archives, Special Collections, Iowa State University Library, Ames, Iowa.

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