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Handy, Charles Brooks

Published onJul 30, 2021
Handy, Charles Brooks

(April 26, 1924 — January 4, 2016)

Quick Facts

Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor of Accounting, Department Chair of Industrial Administration, founding Dean of the College of Business, Professor Emeritus, Iowa State University. 

Charles B. Handy, Dean, College of Business, 1984-1989, 2003 by Girgis Shehata , (Egyptian, b. 1953) Oil on canvas. Commissioned by the College of Business and University Museums. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. U2003.215

Charles Brooks Handy was born at Coffey, Missouri on April 26, 1924, a son of Herbert Franklin Handy and Laura Ada Margaret Mueller Handy.  He grew up in Coffey and also in Owatonna, Minnesota, and Independence, Iowa, and graduated from Independence High School.  He joined the U.S. Navy in July, 1943, was on active foreign duty from April, 1945 to May, 1946, and was discharged in July, 1946.  Starting in 1947, he was a Lieutenant Junior Grade, in the Naval Reserve. 

After returning from Navy service, Handy attended Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, majored in economics, was a member of Kappa Alpha and Jabberwocky, and graduated in 1947 with a BA degree in economics.  He attended the University of Iowa and received an MA degree in 1956 in accounting.  He was a member of Beta Alpha Psi (accounting honorary) and Omicron Delta Epsilon (economics honorary.)   He then worked as a staff accountant and Certified Public Accountant with McGladrey, Hansen, Dunn & Company in Cedar Rapids, Iowa from 1955-1958. 

In 1958, Handy came to Iowa State University as an instructor in the Department of Industrial Administration.  He was promoted to assistant professor in 1960, to associate professor in 1970, and professor of accounting in 1975.  He also worked on his PhD degree at Iowa State, receiving the degree in 1970 in economics.  His dissertation was entitled The Accounting for Convertible Debt.  It was a study of the characteristics of convertible debt, the accounting problem involved, proposed solutions, and demand for and supply of convertible debt.  Dr. Handy's primary focus on teaching and research was in managerial accounting and auditing.  Over more than twenty years, he taught courses in    accounting and advised many students interested in careers in the accounting profession. 

Dr. Handy published “The Conversion Option: A Proposed Method of Valuation” in Management Accounting, in June, 1974.  This article won a Certificate of Merit for one of the ten best articles reviewed by the editors of Management Accounting for 1974.  He also wrote regular columns for Prospectus, the College of Business's magazine.  On the last page of each issue, he would write, “From the Desk of Founding Dean Charles Handy.”  In his last article, he wrote, “One of the great joys of my life has been my association with Iowa State University academic business program.  I joined it during its infancy and, along with other dedicated personnel, helped to establish a solid program base.  Its growth has been one to look to with pride.  I see a great future for business education at Iowa State.”

He was named Acting Chairman of the Department of Industrial Administration in 1978 and Chairman of the department the following year.  When the department became the School of Business Administration the following year, he was appointed as its first director.  In 1984, when the College of Business Administration was formed, he was named as the first dean of the new college for a five year term.  At its founding, the College of Business Administration included five departments; Accounting, Finance, Management, Marketing, and Transportation and Logistics.  ISU President Gordon Eaton said of Dr. Handy at the time that “Chuck Handy, the first and only dean of the College of Business Administration, has been part of the origins, growth, and maturation of our business program” and that “In times marked by explosive expansion in business education, he has wrestled with difficult problems and has been a stabilizing force in a time of great change.”  One of Dr. Handy's outstanding accomplishments was the founding and management of an audit simulation exercise in conjunction with the Union Pacific Corporation for students from Iowa State and the University of Iowa which started at Iowa State in 1978.

Dr. Handy was a member of many professional organizations.  These included the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Iowa Society of Certified Public Accountants, the American Accounting Association, the Midwest Business Administration, and the Institute of Internal Auditors.  He was also a member of the National Association of Accountants and was a member of the Des Moines Board of Directors for more than ten years.  In addition, he was listed in the 42nd through the 59th editions (1982-2005) of Who's Who in America.

When his term as Dean of the College of Business Administration was about to expire in 1989, Dr. Handy announced that he would enter Iowa State's phased retirement plan.  He stepped down as Dean but continued to teach one semester a year in the Department of Accounting.  After his final retirement, Dr. Handy was named Professor Emeritus.  At the beginning of his phased retirement, the Union Pacific Corporation donated $100,000 to establish the Union Pacific/Charles B. Handy Professorship in Accounting. 

After his retirement, Dr. Handy moved back to Independence, Iowa and also spent some of his time in Florida.  He and his wife, Donna Jean Peters Handy, had two daughters, Leigh and Karen, and two sons, Mark and Steven.  Donna died in 1993, and he married Mary Catherine McGrane in Iowa City, Iowa on November 5, 1994.  During his retirement, he stayed busy with the First Presbyterian Church in Independence, and also enjoyed golfing, music, baseball and also read history and politics.  In 2007, he was honored at the Gerdin Business Building for his contributions in founding the College of Business at Iowa State.  

Dr. Charles B. Handy died at the Lexington Estates in Independence, Iowa on January 4, 2016 and was interred in Cedar Memorial Park in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  Room 1360 in the Gerdin Business Building has been named the “Dr. Charles B. Handy Graduate Programs Office,” and a portrait of Dr. Handy by artist Girgis Shehata now hangs in the Gerdin Business Building. 


Selected Sources

A major source of information on the life and career of Dr. Charles B. Handy can be found in the Charles B. Handy Papers, RS 27/1/14, Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives.  The collection includes biographical information, such as a Faulty Information form, news clippings, and Information News Service bulletins.  Other parts of the collection include information on programs and grants, graduate business courses, committee reports, planning reports, development and fund raising, and more. 

Other information was found online, including his doctoral dissertation, articles in the Iowa State Daily, the listing of his portrait in the Gerdin Business Building, obituaries, and an ISU Faculty Senate Memorial Resolution.

Obituaries were published in the Independence Bulletin Journal, January 6, 2016 and the Ames Daily Tribune, January 6, 2016.

Family information from the 1940 Federal Census and Public Member Family Trees, high school and college photographs and military records were found on     



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