Dean of LAS builds new home at Iowa State


Beate Schmittmann has served as the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences since April 2012. She grew up in Alsdorf, Germany, and taught physics at Virginia Tech. As a child, she wanted to be a veterinarian.

Kelly Schiro

Beate Schmittmann has been the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences since April of 2012. People may not know that she has dual citizenship in Germany and the United States and didn’t always want to study physics.

“She’s very dedicated, she cares a lot about the college, the students, the faculty,” said Gaye Simonson, executive assistant to the dean. “I think she’s well respected across the campus.”

Simonson had worked on campus for many years before going to work for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Schmittmann.

“I had heard good things about the college and the dean,” Simonson said, “Everybody says she’s a great dean, everybody respects her and she’s good to work with and work for.”

Schmittmann’s work day typically starts a little before 8 a.m. and ends around 7 p.m. When she isn’t working or traveling to events, she likes to read, listen to music and play with her cats.

During the summer, she can be seen riding her road bike around town to get exercise and be outdoors. She also likes to travel to places with good hiking trails.

“I really enjoy nature. I like being out in the wilderness,” Schmittmann said, “It’s really a big way for me to recharge.”

As a kid, Schmittmann loved nature, going on hikes with her parents and her sister. She said she always likes to take the path less traveled.

In her time off, she tries to get back to Alsdorf, Germany, where she grew up. She still has family there. Her mother, sister and nieces and nephews still live overseas.

The town where Schmittmann grew up had a lot of people who grew their own food and raised farm animals such as chickens, rabbits and pigeons.

“One of the first things I ever wanted to be was a vet,” Schmittmann said.

Schmittmann grew up with a lot of animals around her house, she had a dachshund and an ever-changing population of cats outside her house. She said she always seemed to connect with animals.

Royce Zia, professor emeritus of physics from Virginia Tech, was the reason Schmittmann came to the United States. They met through her thesis adviser and later through her post-doctorate adviser, as Zia collaborated with both advisers.

“She was getting a little bit tired of the things she was working on, and I said to her, ‘Why don’t you come and spend three months in Blacksburg?’” Zia said.

When Schmittmann landed in Virginia, she and Zia took the country roads back to the university. They stopped to look at the stars where she could see the Milky Way for the first time.

Schmittmann’s enjoyed her visit and when a visiting assistant professorship position opened up at Virginia Tech, she jumped at the opportunity. The position eventually became a full-time job for Schmittmann.

While Schmittmann got offers to go back to Germany, she decided to look for dean positions in America and eventually chose Iowa State.

“This was very attractive, I really liked the school when I interviewed and when I visited. So I took the leap,” Schmittman said.