Skip to main content

Paine, Frank "Shorty"

Published onOct 11, 2021
Paine, Frank "Shorty"

(March 7, 1886 - 1942)

Quick Facts

First department chair of the General Engineering (GE) department, mayor of Ames, and credited with naming the spring celebration VEISHEA.


Frank D. Paine, known to have the nickname of “Shorty,” was born in Burt, Iowa, on March 7, 1886 to Denison and Sarah S. Paine. In 1905, he began coursework in Electrical Engineering at Iowa State College (now University), graduating with a BS in 1909. While at ISC, he served on the Bomb (yearbook) board, the Junior Trot Committee, as class treasurer, and as class vice president. Paine was elected to two honorary engineering fraternities (Eta Kappa Nu and Tau Beta Pi) and was a member of Delta Upsilon, a social fraternity.

After graduation, Paine was employed by General Electric in Schenectady, NY, and then Pittsfield, MA. In 1911, he became superintendent of the Sanborn, IA, electric plant and worked there until leaving to teach at Iowa State College.

From 1912 to 1942, he served in various capacities at Iowa State College (ISC): first as Electrical Engineering instructor and later as the first department chair of the General Engineering (GE) department (1929-1942). The GE department, with offices in Engineering Hall (now Marston Hall), consisted primarily of classes in electrical, mechanical and civil engineering, as well as classes in economics. Paine served as department chair until his death.

Paine also acted as head of the Engineering Personnel Service at Iowa State College until 1934. During his time at ISC, Paine also worked for the state of Iowa as supervisor of the Iowa project on rural electrification (1924-1926), as well as numerous other engineering positions relating to Iowa industry and electrification. In 1928, he turned down an appointment as engineering attaché to then-Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover, choosing instead to remain at Iowa State College.

Beyond his duties in the General Engineering department, Paine is remembered for coining the name "VEISHEA," putting together the acronym of the first letters of the ISC college divisions (Veterinary Medicine, Engineering, Industrial Science, Home Economics, Agriculture). VEISHEA, a spring campus-wide celebration was first celebrated in 1922; Paine went on to serve as advisor to the VEISHEA Central Committee.

Elsewhere on campus, Paine was instrumental in the construction of the Memorial Union and later served on its Board of Directors.

While continuing his professorial duties, Paine served as mayor of Ames for two terms (1938-1942) and was instrumental in the construction of additions to Mary Greeley Hospital (now Mary Greeley Medical Center) and the Ames Public Library. His administration was also responsible for the improvement and expansion of the municipal light and water systems in Ames.

Frank Paine married Grace Rees in 1908 and fathered two sons: Rees D. and Frank R. Paine.

Paine died of a heart attack in 1942.

Selected Sources

Frank D. Paine Papers, RS 11/9/12, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library.

VEISHEA: Iowa State’s Rite of Spring, online exhibit.

Ames History Museum, “Mayors of Ames”.

No comments here
Why not start the discussion?