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Bishop, LaDena Faye

Two entries for LaDena F. Bishop with two separate authors.

Published onJul 30, 2021
Bishop, LaDena Faye

(November 6, 1922 - November 25, 2013)

Quick Facts

Long-time ISU Graduate College thesis editor who read and revised over fifteen-thousand master’s level theses and doctoral dissertations.


Entry #1 authored by David Holmgren

LaDena Faye Sloniger Bishop was born on November 6, 1922 at Lushton, York County, Nebraska, daughter of Victor Hugo Sloniger and Eva Mae Berger Sloniger.  She grew up on the family farm near Bradshaw, York County, Nebraska which is about midway between Lincoln and Grand Island.  She graduated from Bradshaw High School and then attended nearby York College in York, Nebraska for about two years.  While at York College, she majored in music and was a member of the Zeta Literary Society, the Women's Athletic Association, Life Work Recruits, and the Performing Arts and Literary Society (PALS.)  She was interested in religious music and while a student at York College delivered a talk to the Zeta Literary Society on the origins and composers of three well known hymns, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, Abide With Me, and Blest Be The Tie That Binds.  Also, as a member of PALS, she read poetry at one of their meetings.

About the time she was attending York College, the family moved to Shipley, Story County, Iowa, a small community between Ames and Nevada.  There LaDena met Robert Marion (“Bob”) Bishop who was also from Shipley and had attended Iowa State University.  They married in Story City on September 11, 1943.  He was in the Army Air Corps at the time, so they lived in both Mississippi and Texas until his discharge.  They returned to Shipley after the war, farmed there for a number of years, and had three children; Marlu, Cora Lee, and Robin Bishop.  Robin died in 1957 at the age of eight.  In 1972, the family moved from Shipley to Story City and in 1976 to Jewell. 

In 1961, LaDena Bishop was hired by the Graduate College at Iowa State University to become its Thesis Editor.  In this position, she reviewed all theses and dissertations submitted by students in the Graduate College.  At first, her job description listed her as a Library Assistant, then in 1963 as Library Supervisor, and finally as Thesis Editor in 1969, but her job was essentially the same during the entire 30 years she was with Iowa State.  She worked in various locations in the Parks Library from 1961 to 1980 and then in Beardshear Hall from 1980 until her retirement in 1991. 

Mrs. Bishop, as she was commonly known and referred to by students and faculty, approached her job with a high degree of professional standards.  In editing theses and dissertations, she insisted on proper style, grammar, formatting and presentation without regard to the topic or from which department the thesis/dissertation was being presented.  Her work habits were noticeable to many people.  She wore suits with matching heels every day and marked theses with colored markers that matched the suit she was wearing.  Working in the age before personal computers, she measured margins with a ruler, and they had to be perfect.  Others in the Graduate Office marveled at how she handled corrections from such a range of subjects.  In an article in the Des Moines Sunday Register in 1986, she shared some of her experiences with students.  She had to make some students go through the entire manuscript and place two spaces after each period instead of one.  She pointed out that “data are” not “data is” to another.  One student learned to his chagrin that he had misspelled the word “turkey” in the title of his thesis.  Many graduate students would be given multiple pages of notes for needed corrections.  One semester six graduate students had to renew their apartment leases for another semester to correct their theses to her specifications.

Her standards became the dread of many graduate students.  Many were seen nervously fidgeting while waiting outside her office.  Daniel Zaffarano, dean of the Graduate College at that time, said, ”People are scared to death of meeting her because they think she's going to sacrifice their theses at the alter.”  

Yet on meeting Mrs. Bishop, many students were pleasantly surprised to meet such a disarming person.  She had a motherly but professional appearance and disposition with her matching suit and heels and with her glasses dangling from a chain.  Using patience and humor, she had great success in showing students that her corrections were necessary.  Even in dealing with a difficult student, she always kept her poise and usually won the student over to her view.  A proper lady, the worst exclamations she uttered were “Golly Sakes” and “My Gosh” while editing manuscripts.  She also tried to alleviate student anxiety by holding seminars twice a month to explain correct thesis format.  She once said with a chuckle that “The real reason I give it is to tell them I'm not the ogre they think I am.”

During the 30 years she worked as Thesis Editor, she edited some 18,500 theses and dissertations, an average of over 600 per academic year.  One of them ran over 1,400 pages.  She took pride in the fact that University Microfilms, Inc., the firm that cataloged and reproduced most dissertations in the United States at that time, had never rejected one from Iowa State.  A spokesperson for the company stated that she submitted “consistently high quality dissertations, in terms of format.”

After her retirement in 1991, she and Bob continued living in Jewell.  She was involved in Lutheran church work and was a member of Eastern Star and the American Legion Auxiliary.  Some time after Bob's death in 1999, she moved to Story County Senior Care in Nevada. 

LaDena Faye Sloniger Bishop died at Story County Senior Care on November 25, 2013.  She was interred beside Bob and Robin in Ames Municipal Cemetery in Ames.

Selected Sources

Obituaries for LaDena Bishop from the Des Moines Register, November 28, 2013 can be found in RS 6/3/0/6, Graduate College, Box 1, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University. 

Information on the Thesis Office rules and procedures at that time, interoffice communication in regard to the Thesis Office, and the article in the Des Moines Sunday Register, February 9, 1986, Section B, pp. 1B, 4B can also be found at Special Collections in Series No. 6/3/1, Box 3. 

Information on Mrs. Bishop's job title, location on campus, and place of residence were found by examining Iowa State University catalogs and directories from 1961-1991, also found in Special Collections. 

Reminiscences on her work in the Thesis Office were in an email response by Joyce Meier.  The estimate of 18,500 theses and dissertations reviewed by Mrs. Bishop were computed and relayed by Eric Parsons and Ed Goedeken, Parks Library. 

Information on her years and activities as a student at York College were found in The 1941-1942 Marathon (yearbook for York College) and from issues of the campus newspaper, The Sandburr, for October 17, 1941; November 13, 1941; and February 27 , 1942.  These were all found online. 

Family information can be found in the 1930 and 1940 U. S. Censuses at

Death and interment information for LaDena Bishop; husband, Robert M. Bishop; father, Victor Hugo Sloniger; and brother, Victor Allen Sloniger, can be found at

Entry #2 authored by Stephanie Gibb-Clark for History 481X class assignment in 2018

Between 1969 and 1991, every graduate student knew whose signature they would need in order to complete their degree: LaDena Bishop. Known to match her editing pen with her outfit for the day - reserving red and green as her go-to colors - Bishop read and revised over fifteen-thousand master’s level theses and doctoral dissertations ranging from 15 to 3,000 pages during her tenure as Thesis Editor in the Graduate College at Iowa State University.

Bishop joined the University as a Library Assistant in 1961, moving quickly into the position of Library Supervisor by 1963. While serving in her positions at Parks Library, she garnered a reputation for having the highest standards in grammar, punctuation and formatting - particularly in her work curating the university thesis collection - leading to her assignment as the Graduate College Thesis Editor in 1969. The Thesis Editor, in conjunction with the Graduate College Thesis Office, was responsible for the review of all Master’s and Doctoral level theses and dissertations in order to prepare them for microfilming and library storage. Throughout her tenure, colleagues reported routinely observing Bishop reaching for her ruler when marking a student’s work; however, her strong standards helped to convey the excellence of an Iowa State education in academic publications throughout the Midwest and beyond. Indeed, under Bishops’ leadership, not a single dissertation was rejected for reproduction by University Microfilms - the United States leading publisher of doctoral dissertations, now known as ProQuest.

Despite her meticulous review of each paper, students and faculty alike praised Bishop for maintaining and, even bolstering, thesis quality. For her exemplary service to Iowa State University, the University Alumni Association awarded Bishop the Superior Service Award during the height of her career in 1979; Bishop remained an active lifetime member of the Alumni Association after her retirement in 1991. Subsequent to Ms. Bishops’ retirement, the Graduate College revised the process for thesis deposition and eliminated the Thesis Office, as well as the position of Thesis Editor.

LaDena Faye (Sloniger) Bishop was born on November 6th, 1922 in Lushton, Nebraska to Victor Hugo and Eva Mae (Berger) Sloniger. She had one younger brother, Victor Allen Sloniger, who was born in 1928. In 1941 and 1942, Ms. Bishop attended York College, a small, private Christian college, in York, Nebraska and majored in Music. She was very involved in the York campus Y.W.C.A, Zeta Sorority, and Women’s Athletic Association in addition to her extensive activity with the music department as a tutor and performer; over a dozen articles in the collegiate newspaper, The Sandburr, regale the dazzling vocal and piano performances presented by Ms. Bishop, as well as, several dramatic readings as part of activities hosted by the Theatre Department. 

In December 1943, she married Robert Bishop, who was enlisted in the United States Army during World War II, and moved to Texas where Robert was stationed; throughout Ms. Bishops’ tenure at Iowa State University, she lived at different times in the surrounding communities of Neveda, Jewell and Story City. LaDena and Robert Bishop had three daughters Marlu, Corky, and Robin, who died during childhood. Outside her career at Iowa State, Bishop was a member of the American Legion Auxiliary and Eastern Star. LaDena Bishop died on November 25th, 2013, at the age of 91, in Neveda, IA.

Selected Sources

“Bradshaw Freshman Presents Music, Dramatic Recital.” The Sandburr. February 13, 1941.

Caitlin Ware, “ISU creating biographical dictionary to chronicle influential Cyclones,” The Ames Tribune, May 4, 2018,

“Freshman Frolic At ‘Kid’ Party For Upperclassmen.” The Sandburr. November 20, 1940.

Graduate Faculty Handbook. Iowa State University, 1978.

Iowa State University Faculty Directory. Vols. 1961–1991.

“LaDena Bishop: Obituary,” The Des Moines Register, last modified November 28, 2013, accessed November 1, 2018,

“LaDena Bishop: Personal Page,” Iowa State University Alumni Association, accessed November 1, 2018,

May, Joan, “My Turn,” The Sioux City Journal, July 4, 1990,

Pins, Kenneth, “Students crave signature of ISU’s charming ‘ogre,’” The Des Moines Register, February 9, 1986,

“Sloniger to Assist in Class.” The Sandburr. March 13, 1941.

“Speech Class Members Perform for Programs.” The Sandburr. November 26, 1941.

Swan, Patricia. “Operation of the Thesis Office, Spring 1991.” Iowa State University Graduate College, December 27, 1990. Iowa State University Special Collections.

The Marathon. Yearbook. York College, 1942.

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