Personal, professional guidance key in three LAS faculty members’ reception of award


Iowa State has pledged to raise $415,000 for the LIVE UNITED campaign for 2015. On top of the United Way’s annual Day of Caring, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will be holding an online auction this year to raise money.

Madeline Gould

The ISUAA Faculty-Staff Inspiration Award, established in 2011, provides an opportunity for former ISU students to publicly recognize ISU faculty or staff members who inspired them or who had a great influence on them during their time at Iowa State.

Dianne Bystrom, director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, Jane Peterson, professor of journalism and mass communication, and Patrick Gouran, professor of theatre for 35 years, were each honorees from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Gouran passed away in 2012.

The awards were given out at the ISUAA Inspiration Awards and Annual Reception on Sunday.

A nomination from a former student is necessary for a faculty member to be considered for the award, and nominees cannot have graduated from Iowa State.

A maximum of six awards are given away to faculty members each year. Three of the six awards for 2015 went to LAS faculty.

“We in LAS are thrilled that three of our faculty received this wonderful recognition,” said Beate Schmittmann, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

According to the ISU Alumni Association, the nominations should be submitted based on the impact the ISU faculty or staff member had on the former students’ professional or personal life.

“Dianne is an extremely personable person, and she is one of those people that I feel comfortable reaching out to personally or professionally,” said Kristine Roush, senior in journalism and mass communication and intern at the Carrie Chapman Catt Center.

Roush said Dianne is a very approachable person who takes a true interest in her employees to try and help them be successful in whatever they are doing.

As director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women in Politics, Bystrom is able to interact with people in all stages of life.

“Dianne has a tremendous history of mentorship and leadership on Iowa State’s campus and has contributed over her nearly two decades of service immeasurably to our campus,” said Clinton Stephens, lecturer in leadership studies who has known Bystrom for five years.

Some of Bystrom’s work also reaches further than the ISU campus. She has initiated research in campaign media and communication that has gained recognition across Iowa and around the country.

Her most lasting contribution may be to the faculty, staff and students she works with here on a daily basis.

“Any and all awards should go [Bystrom’s] way,” said Lissandra Villa, junior in journalism and mass communication and political science.

Villa said Bystrom has been instrumental in her adventure at Iowa State because she has known her since her freshman year. She listened to Bystrom speak at a lecture and was so inspired she wrote her an email asking if she could set up a meeting with Bystrom to discuss her career goals.

One of Bystrom’s main focuses is on leadership and helping ISU students achieve their leadership goals.

“Dianne has been a ferocious advocate for the leadership studies program here at Iowa State. I’ve watched and admired as she has spoken out on behalf of ISU students giving them more leadership development experiences,” Stephens said.

Bystrom holds different roles within the Catt Center, College of LAS and her research, which brings with it many different projects.

“Dianne brings great energy and vision to every task she undertakes,” said Amy Slagell, associate dean for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences who came to Iowa State at the same time as Dianne.

Jane Peterson is a professor of journalism and mass communication. 

“She always had a deep love for students and that’s shown through in all of her decisions as associate director,” said Michael Bugeja, director of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Bugeja and Peterson have worked together for about nine years and Bugeja said he would consider her one of his best friends as well as colleagues.

Peterson is very active in the Greenlee School, partaking in four committees, teaching and advising students.

Anyone who knows Jane Peterson knows that she is a wise, critical thinker. So the advice she gives students is not necessarily for the short term, it usually is for the long term,” Bugeja said.

According to the ISU website, Peterson has multiple publications and is an experienced professor. She has a special interest in science journalism and mass communication because she strongly believes it is important to communicate science to an audience.

Peterson also embodies the description of the Inspiration Award by helping students in both their personal and professional lives, Bugeja said.

“She doesn’t preach her ethics, she lives them,” Bugeja said. “She was very soft spoken, but when she speaks, her words are very well chosen and often powerful.”

Gouran was a very involved member of the theatre faculty, directing and acting in many plays as well as teaching theatre classes.

“He loved theatre and he loved the students and he loved working with them,” said Jane Cox, professor of music and theatre.

Cox and Gouran came to Iowa State at about the same time and were able work together through both teaching and plays.

“One of the things I would say anybody who knows him would say is that he had a wonderful sense of humor, and he could really make people laugh,” Cox said.

Gouran inspired his students to be the best they could be by giving them honest feedback through genuine praise and frank advice that was always well received by his students because they trusted him, Cox said.

“If you got a compliment from Pat, that was a big deal for the faculty too because it was relatively rare, so you treasured that,” Cox said.

Gouran had experience in many plays in both the academic and non-academic worlds in addition to directing. He also appeared in independent films, training videos and commercials.

“He was very outspoken about the plays and scripts he did and didn’t like, and some people might resent that, but he would have them laughing again in five or 10 minutes,” Cox said.

According to his biography page on ISU’s website, Gouran participated in 24 shows.

Aside from his theatre achievements, Cox said that Gouran could make anyone laugh and always had a comeback because he was very well-read.

Cox said Gourman was very observant and sensitive to what people around him were thinking and feeling, and that she does not know if she will ever know another person like that.

“He was one of a kind. I don’t think I’ve ever known anybody that was quite like Pat, and I mean that in a good sense,” Cox said.

The other ISU faculty members who received the ISUAA Faculty-Staff Inspiration Award are Michael Gaul, James Noxon, and Ann Thompson.

To nominate, a form is on the ISUAA website, Nominations are due every year on Dec 1.

The award is partially funded by earnings from the Nancy and Richard Degner Alumni Association Endowment.