ISU Alumni Association: Celebrating 125 Years
was reading the latest issue of VISIONS, and in the article “How
it began,” the first paragraph says “the nation’s first
land-grant college.” I had heard this statement before.
note: The Land-Grant Act, also known as the Morrill Act, was signed into
law in 1862. Although other land-grant schools of today existed before
Iowa State was chartered in 1858 (University of Wisconsin in 1848 and
Michigan State in 1855, for example), Iowa was the first state to accept
the provisions of the Morrill Act. Campus beauty, like all beauty, is
in the eye of the beholder – and clearly open to debate. The “most
beautiful campus” reference most likely came from the American Society
of Landscape Architects’ 1999 centennial listing of “Medallion
Sites,” which included Iowa State’s park-like central lawn
among three university central campuses to receive that designation. The
other two were Yale University and the University of Virginia. Additionally,
author Thomas Gaines, in The Campus as a Work of Art (1991), proclaimed
Iowa State to be one of the 25 most beautiful campuses in the country.
Iowa State was the first university to build a facility for the exhibit
of live butterflies and to exhibit both native and exotic species. Michigan
and Kansas State Universities each have a butterfly exhibit consisting
solely of native North American species, and a new facility is under construction
at the University of Florida in Gainesville. There are about 30 total
butterfly exhibits in the United States.
was a resident of the Towers from 1969 to 1973. Our harbinger of spring
was the distinct aroma as the ice and snow melted from the area around
the Dairy Barns. Spirits and olfactory senses lifted by a slight southerly
breeze, we knew warmer weather was right around the corner.
a young teacher with little experience, I was nervous and concerned to
find that the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Parks would be in my Madison School
kindergarten during the 1959-60 school year. Happily, they quickly put
me at ease, and their daughter was a darling and very able child. I remember
them as interested and supportive parents, who always had time for their
daughter, despite what must have been many other pressures.
I graduated from ISU in 1975, and my favorite memory is getting to sit with Bob and Ellen Parks at the dinner honoring new inductees into Phi Beta Kappa. I have no idea how I got so lucky to be seated at their table, but it was great fun to talk to them both. I worked in the library as a student assistant, then went on to library school at Illinois after graduation. I was delighted when the ISU library was named for them. I joined the Alumni Association as a life member when I graduated, and I’ve been proud to be affiliated with ISU all my life. Thanks to Bob Parks’ enlightened leadership, ISU was and is still a remarkable institution.
My memory of Dr. Parks comes from the summer of 1975. I was working with other Cyclone Aides (the summer orientation group). We were having a team-building game called “Bigger or Better.” Each team was given a tennis ball and challenged to bring back something greater. One team brought a canoe, one a bale of hay, etc. Well, our team went over to the Knoll and asked Dr. Parks (on a Saturday night) and he was more than happy to be our “prize.” He came over and gave a GREAT motivating speech about how we were the representatives of ISU and the first people the students and parents would meet. It was very moving. Later, when I was class president, I came to see his management style and how much the faculty respected him. I guess I always thought of him as larger than life. He was truly a wonderful man.
of 1972, I was a sophomore in animal science. As my wife and my parents
were walking with me to Clyde Williams Field from our Pammel Court apartment
graduated from Iowa State in 1978. I lived in Lange House (in the Richardson
Court Association) for four years. I was the social chairman (along with
Paul Meenan) of Lange House in 1976. We came up with the idea to invite
President Parks to one of our “dinner exchanges.” (A dinner
exchange was when one dorm floor asked another dorm floor to dinner.)
I only met Bob Parks one time, but I’ve always remembered our chance meeting. I was attending my first presidential caucus in January 2000. The room was crowded, so I decided to take a seat on the floor. At the time I didn’t realize I was sitting next to former ISU president Bob Parks. As soon as I took my seat, he jumped up and insisted that I take his chair. After much dispute, I finally accepted his kind gesture. He introduced himself to me, and we started a conversation about ISU and politics. He explained to me how exciting it was to see young people like myself participating in politics. He also explained how hard it was for him to not be politically involved while he was president, because it wasn’t appropriate at the time. I don’t remember our conversation word for word, but his kindness and our shared enthusiasm for ISU and politics was inspirational to me.