Longtime professor to hang up his hat

Gabe Davis

An ISU professor known for creativity is hanging up his hat at the end of the semester. Bill Boon, landscape architecture professor and creator of Design Studies 129, is halfway through his last semester of teaching.

Boon became a member of the College of Design staff 25 years ago. He said he was full of energy and creativity just waiting to be released in the classroom. Boon said his creativity as a teacher did not go unnoticed by the rest of the faculty in the college.

“I was the first teacher at Iowa State to be promoted to professor on my teaching ability alone, as opposed to research,” he said.

Boon said he began teaching Creativity 129 five years after coming to Iowa State, and he has only positive things to say about the past 15 years of teaching it.

“I’ve enjoyed teaching immensely,” he said. “It’s been a very rewarding experience.”

Retirement doesn’t mean slowing down — it’s just a transition into new, uncharted waters, he said.

“I’m retiring to write a book called ‘How to Walk on Water and Other Minor Miracles,’ and to spend time reading to children,” Boon said.

He said he wants to spend time reading to children at the Ames Library and at local elementary schools to help them become excited about education so that they can retain it longer.

“My goal as a teacher has always been to bring out the child [in students] that once enjoyed creativity and fun,” he said.

Fulfilling this goal is the reason for many unique aspects of Boon’s class, which includes no tests and a unique grading criteria.

“Class is graded on the process, not the product,” he said. “From day one, I try to establish a non-threatening environment where people can learn and have fun at the same time.”

Boon said this means students can sometimes fail every single project in the class and still get an “A” in the course.

Cardboard shelters, kites and floats were just a few of the projects Boon said his students did every year. While he said all of the projects were fun, interacting with people is what he enjoyed at Iowa State.

“I’ll miss the students mostly and the people that I see when I’m on campus,” he said. “What I won’t miss is the rat race of trying to keep everything going all the time.”

Boon’s efforts in incorporating new and creative teaching techniques did not go unnoticed by his students.

“You never know what to expect when you go to his class,” said Suzi Sorbo, senior in elementary education. “I walked in the first day and he had music playing and there were people standing on their chairs, and I thought, ‘This is going to be a fun class.'”