History of past ISU presidents

Daily Staff

Gregory Geoffroy, 2001 to present

  • Doctorate in chemistry from California Institute of Technology
  • Was an officer in the U.S. Navy
  • Previously worked at Pennsylvania State University, Eberly College of Science at Penn State and University of Maryland
  • Nationally acclaimed researcher in organometallic chemistry
  • Emphasized raising special funds to support faculty positions, scholarships and graduate assistantships
  • Led Campaign Iowa State, an $800 million private fundraising campaign
  • Set goals to enrich Iowa State’s learning environment, raise academic quality of university, have more programs recognized as among the best in the nation, engage university with Iowans, elevate Iowa’s appeal as a place to live, work, raise a family, foster diversity by providing a welcoming and inviting environment and supporting success of all students and faculty
  • Made special efforts to include undergraduate students in research programs by providing 50 spots for undergraduates on his team

Martin Jischke, 1991 to 2000

  • Doctorate in aeronautics and astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Previously worked at University of Oklahoma and University of Missouri at Rolla
  • Revitalized land-grant mission of teaching, research and outreach
  • Progressed toward goal of becoming nation’s best land-grant university by setting records in enrollment and sponsoring funding
  • Developed partnerships with government and other educational institutions
  • Left Iowa State to take position as president of Purdue University

Gordon Eaton, 1986 to 1990

  • Doctorate in geology and geophysics from California Institute of Technology
  • Previously worked at Texas A&M, Wesleyan University and University of California at Riverside
  • Significantly raised faculty salaries
  • Increased support for research
  • Improved undergraduate education
  • Established ongoing strategic planning
  • Resigned to be director of Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory at Columbia University

W. Robert Parks, 1965 to 1986, longest serving ISU president

  • Doctorate from University of Wisconsin at Madison
  • Previously taught at University of Wisconsin at Madison and Iowa State
  • Wrote book on soil conservation
  • Blended sciences and humanities in “new humanism” approach
  • Enrollment increased by 90 percent
  • Research funding increased by 300 percent
  • Added three colleges: education, design and business administration
  • Added 40 undergraduate majors and 30 graduate majors
  • Served as head of National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges, Association of American Universities, Council of Presidents, Mid-America State Universities Association and Association of Iowa College Presidents
  • Named honorary ISU alumnus in 1969

James Hilton, 1953 to 1965

  • Bachelors in animal husbandry from Iowa State
  • Also worked at Purdue and North Carolina State University
  • Only ISU alumnus to become ISU president
  • Enrollment experienced greatest growth in history of the school
  • Course offerings broadened

Charles Friley, 1936 to 1953

  • Graduate of Texas A&M
  • Also worked at Columbia University and University of Chicago
  • Revised and expanded instructional and research programs
  • Was president through Great Depression, World War II and educational revolution
  • Established nation’s first educationally-owned television station
  • Had Iowa State participate in Manhattan Project (atomic bomb)

Raymond Hughes, 1927 to 1936

  • First Iowa-born ISU president
  • Graduated from Miami (Ohio) University
  • Guided university through Great Depression
  • Established relationships with sister institutions
  • Promoted technical curriculum
  • Established research support agencies
  • Retired due to poor health

Raymond Pearson, 1912 to 1926

  • Graduated from Cornell University
  • Also worked at New York Department of Agriculture
  • Organized undergraduate programs
  • Promoted graduate program
  • Broadened extension service
  • Supported development of “big-time” athletics
  • Resigned to take position of president at University of Maryland

Albert Storms, 1903 to 1910

  • Was pastor of First Methodist Church of Des Moines
  • Continued advancement of college by taking liberal view of land-grant universities
  • Strengthened divisional organization
  • Established Agricultural Extension Service
  • Developed plan for campus landscaping
  • Lifted ban on fraternities
  • Organized Missouri Valley Athletic Association
  • Founded ISU Alumni Association

William Beardshear, 1891 to 1902

  • Served in Civil War on Union side
  • Worked as West Des Moines superintendent of schools and president of Western College in Toledo
  • Organized Iowa State’s academic structure
  • Got school’s first state appropriation for operating funds
  • Persuaded General Assembly to allow taxes to provide building funds
  • Many goals not reached because he died of a heart attack while in office

William Chamberlain, 1886 to 1890

  • Gave up teaching for farming
  • Was secretary of Ohio Board of Agriculture
  • Faced disorder over fraternity banning
  • Dealt with unrest from Iowa farmers over Iowa State’s curricular development, leading to his resignation

Leigh Hunt, 1885 to 1886

  • Was superintendent of East Des Moines Independent School District
  • Became president at age of 29
  • Widely thought that he lacked the maturity to fulfill role
  • After resigning became successful journalist, gold miner and cotton grower

Seaman Knapp, 1883 to 1884

  • Union College graduate
  • Conducted women seminaries before becoming ISU president
  • Founded cooperative demonstration farm program
  • Founded county agent system
  • Resigned to start agriculture career in South

Adonijah S. Welch, 1868 to 1883

  • Graduated from University of Michigan
  • Was gold miner in California, lumberman, fruit grower and Reconstruction senator for Florida
  • Introduced advanced ideas about student and faculty participation
  • Pioneered subjects such as landscape architecture, genetics and philosophy of science
  • Forced to resign because of pressure from conservatives
Information courtesy of University Relations.