Five Things

Here are five things to put on your Cardinal & Gold radar this week.

1) July 1 (tomorrow!) is the official roll-out date of the new Big 12 Conference logo. This is the third version of the mark since the league was created in 1996-97. (And yes, while the logo includes a roman numeral, it is always referred to as “Big 12” in writing.)


2) Bloomberg News recently reported on a Federal Reserve Bank of New York study that finds “yes” is the answer to the question of: “Is a U.S. college degree still worth the investment?” Every major, researchers found, returns at least 9 percent, with an average return of around 15 percent. Engineering majors had the highest return on investment, though, at 21 percent. Read the full Bloomberg report here.

hillman3) When Summer Olympics time comes rolling around again, there could be another Cyclone to watch. Christina Hillman, fresh off her back-to-back indoor and outdoor NCAA championships in women’s shot put, placed fifth at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Sacramento June 25 — and she’s only a junior. She was the No. 2 collegian in the U.S. field behind Wisconsin’s Kelsey Card. Christina was recently named ISU’s female athlete of the year.

4) In case you needed any more evidence that the U.S. has become extremely polarized when it comes to political views and voting choices, a new ISU study analyzed election data going back to 1997 while attempting to answer the question: “Do elections truly reflect the will of the people?

5) Your summer issue of VISIONS magazine should be on its way (including our cover story on ISU in the 1940s), if it hasn’t already found its way to your mailbox. Packaged with it is the 2014-2015 wall calendar and 2015 travel brochure. Lots of goodies for your summer reading…and summer dreaming.

Friday is Independence Day. Enjoy the holiday! (Ames will be celebrating 150 this 4th.)

The 1940s: Iowa State and a World at War

Originally published in the summer 2014 issue of VISIONS
Historical photos by Special Collections Department / Iowa State University Library

The decade of the 1940s changed the United States and transformed the world. Not surprisingly, these years saw Iowa State College (as ISU was then known) undergo a metamorphosis as well. Since the 1890s, ISC had been nationally known for agriculture and veterinary science, but the crisis of war accentuated Iowa State’s transition to a nationally known college of science, engineering, and technology that joined agriculture as the flagship programs of the institution.

ISC began the decade with roughly the same student demographics that it had had since the turn of the 19th century, but the war changed the fabric of the student body as well. In partnership with the Army and the Navy, Iowa State opened a series of non-collegiate courses and programs to provide technical education for servicemen and training for junior officers. Between 1943 and 1946, when the last class of the Navy V-12 program graduated, over 12,000 men cycled through special military classes at ISC.

Following the war the college combined ingenuity and diligence to meet the challenge of enrolling large numbers of returning veterans. But, perhaps the greatest change, and the one that spoke of the future, came in 1948 and 1949 with a new surge in enrollment, not from returning veterans, but from high school seniors across the state and the nation who sought access to higher education in unprecedented numbers.

Standing watch in Friley arch, 1945 Bomb

Friley Hall was turned into the barracks for the Naval recruits. They ran the dorm like a ship, with bells to toll the hours and sailors to stand watch, like these two in 1944.

The looming specter of war
The decade began with renewed campus and statewide confidence. Iowa’s farm economy had largely recovered from effects of the Great Depression, and ISC’s enrollment had surpassed pre-Depression levels. Student numbers had reached a low of about 3,800 in 1933-34, but enrollment rebounded as the economy recovered and reached over 7,000 by the end of the decade. This influx of students helped convince the legislature to provide funds for a new men’s dormitory in 1940, named after President Charles Friley. But the local and statewide optimism brought on by the economic recovery was overshadowed by the looming specter of the war in Europe.

Beginning in the late 1930s ISC students took increasing interest in the series of European diplomatic crises. Faculty, students, and administration all took anxious notice as President Roosevelt first declared a “limited national emergency” on Sept. 8, 1939, the selective service act on Sept. 16, 1940, and finally an “unlimited national emergency” on May 27, 1941. These acts helped to prepare the country for war, and they also changed the relationship between the federal government and land-grant institutions across the country, compelling colleges and universities to organize for the national defense effort.

In spite of fears and anxieties about international affairs, the carefree lifestyle of the 1930s undergraduate continued largely unaffected by things that to some seemed remote. The “class break” for Homecoming (no classes on Homecoming Friday), VEISHEA, fall and spring formals, fraternity and sorority galas, football, basketball, track and field all continued as largely as before. It was a joyous time for many.

Of course, the event that shattered the hopes and confirmed the worst fears of pre-war America came in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941. The effect of the war’s arrival on the campus is perhaps best summed up by a 1944 senior class memory from the Bomb: “About the only thing we remembered about our sophomore year is Dec. 7. It was just before finals, and everyone was more concerned about where they would be winter quarter than about their chem blue book. We saw the first of the defense stamp corsages and the last of the VEISHEA cherry pies.”

More than 4,200 Iowa Staters were in the service by the time this photograph of the Blue Star Flag was taken in 1944.

More than 4,200 Iowa Staters were in the service by the time this photograph of the Blue Star Flag was taken in 1944.

‘Iowa State goes to war’
The war had a profound impact on ISC, and nearly every aspect of curriculum, instruction, and student life focused to support the war effort. The autumn of 1942 saw the cancellation of the Homecoming dance along with a prohibition on lawn displays, and the much-coveted Friday off from classes before Homecoming became a thing of the past.

The college began to house a number of special non-collegiate training programs for members of the armed services. These technical courses varied in length from five to 16 weeks and prepared electricians, firemen, and even cooks/bakers for the Navy. At first, the number of trainees was small and easily housed in a portion of the newly built Friley Hall. The trainees had been inducted into the Navy, received regular pay, held to rigorous discipline, and the floors on which they lived were run as if they were on a ship at sea, with regular watches and bells to toll the hours. The men in these programs were encouraged to take part in college activities, and as the numbers of servicemen on campus grew in 1943 and 1944, they would greatly affect student life.

But large numbers of military trainees lay in the future, and in 1942 a largely pre-war student body worked to support the war effort. The Health and 4-H Club councils mobilized their memberships to knit various garments for the Red Cross to disburse to the troops, while the Science Women’s Club volunteered to write and send cards and letters to Iowa State servicemen stationed around the globe. The college formed the Student War Council composed of both men and women in 1942. The Council encompassed 19 major student organizations and worked to raise money from all parts of campus. In 1943 alone this group raised over $1,700 through the sale of war bonds and stamps to aid the war effort. The Student War Council appointed student wardens to lead blackouts on campus and helped with paper drives.

In 1942-43 the college expanded the academic year to four full quarters (fall, winter, spring, summer) so that a student could accelerate through the curriculum and graduate in only three years and then be deployed for the war effort.

ISC worked hard to meet the uncertainties and stress of having friends, family, and loved ones overseas. The faculty from economics, sociology, and history offered a noncredit team-taught course entitled “The Citizen in the World Crisis,” in the winter and spring quarters of 1942. Many students attended the class, and while there was an academic component, there was just as much discussion to relieve stress and assuage fears.

That same year, a group of women students organized weekly meetings on Wednesday afternoons in the Memorial Union to discuss current issues. As the Bomb reported, topics included women in defense and how college students could aid the victory effort. While special classes and Wednesday afternoon meetings no doubt fulfilled their stated  purposes, they almost certainly acted as venues for students and faculty to share news and stories about friends and loved ones away at the front. But classes and meetings only went so far, and individual groups of students often held all-night vigils clustered around radios listening for war news.

Even though the government encouraged all male students to stay in college until called for the draft, increasing numbers of men leaving campus for military duty left positions open for women who capably filled them. Junior women took over men’s places in roles of major responsibility in VEISHEA and campus publications in 1943.

The Bomb reflected an upbeat attitude toward the war in 1942-43; its opening spread across two pages was headed with the slogan, “We Work to Win!” Homecoming was a subdued affair in comparison to the pre-war years, but VEISHEA went on as usual. The theme for VEISHEA in 1942 was “Iowa State Goes to War,” and not surprisingly it was full of patriotic themes. In spite of the war, VEISHEA drew an audience of 15,000, and for the first time military cadets received their commissions at the celebration. In spite of paper shortages and printing restrictions imposed by the war, the ISC Bomb printed 4,300 copies – the largest in its history. As the Bomb closed its pages for its 1943 edition, it told its readers: “Their feeling is optimistic – We’re here in 1943, we’ll be back for reunion in ’53.”

The 1943 VEISHEA queen, Dorothy Isaacson, was flanked by US Navy cadets rather than by college students.

The 1943 VEISHEA queen, Dorothy Isaacson, was flanked by US Navy cadets rather than by college students.

Sober Reflection
But the “We Work to Win!” positivism of 1942-43 gave way to a more sober reflection on the war in 1944. That year the Bomb opened with a picture of students looking at a Blue Star flag with the number 4,257 under the star, representing the number of ISC men and women in the armed services. The dedication for the 1944 yearbook read simply: “To the men and women of Iowa State in the service of our country, we dedicate this book thoughtfully remembering those of our number who will not see it.”

The year 1944 saw the number of military cadets and the disruption to the normal campus routine that they brought reach their peaks. Between 1942 and 1944 these programs grew in variety and number. The Army introduced an Army Special Training Program (ASTP) course in December 1942 meant to produce highly trained recruits in technical fields, and in July 1943 the Navy added a V-12 program to educate junior officers at Iowa State. All of these Army and Navy trainees needed to be housed in campus-owned facilities, and it was not long before the Army and Navy trainees outnumbered the regular collegiate student body.

To meet the need for cadet housing, first, all of the male students were turned out of Friley Hall, and then all of the women housed in the dormitories east of the Knoll were moved into the fraternity houses (whose men were turned out) to make room for increasing numbers of cadets. As the Bomb put it: “This is the way we live this year [1943-44]….. with servicemen in the dorms, women in the fraternities, and men moved to the edge of nowhere. It wasn’t easy at first when it turned out that there were 23 to one bath, but it was fun and there are always things like that to be straightened out.”

The college achieved that “straightening out” by the spring of 1944. The men who had been spread into housing off campus were pushed into the “Wards.” These were associations of homes in the community that combined to create and maintain some sort of collegiate existence. These “Wards” held their own dances and formals, participated in their own intramural events, and in many respects acted like dormitory floors or fraternities.

Just as the war had disrupted Homecoming, during the war years it disrupted VEISHEA as well. The celebration was shortened to two days in 1943 and one day in 1944, and the celebration in these years possessed a decidedly different tone. Two naval cadets rather than college students flanked the VEISHEA queen in 1944, and the parade was cancelled from 1943 to 1945 to meet the needs of the war effort.

While the students and the college contributed to the war effort in a variety of ways, perhaps ISC’s most historically significant contribution was kept in utmost secrecy: the refining of uranium for the Manhattan Project. Frank Spedding from chemistry and Harley Wilhelm from physics, along with their colleagues and students, developed a process to create “biscuits” of pure uranium metal that could then be refined into fissionable material suitable for an atomic bomb.

Between 1942 and 1945, Spedding and his team produced approximately 1,000 tons of pure uranium metal. In recognition of their work, the government awarded ISC the Army-Navy “E” Award for excellence in war production with four stars, signifying 52 months of service in the war effort. No other educational institution in the country received this award that the federal government had created to recognize wartime excellence in private industry.

Harley Wilhelm led the team that supplied the Manhattan Project with solid "biscuits" of uranium. Pictured in 1948 are Frank Spedding, David Lilienthan, W.A. Waymack, and Harley Wilhelm.

Harley Wilhelm led the team that supplied the Manhattan Project with solid “biscuits” of uranium. Pictured in 1948 are Frank Spedding, David Lilienthan, W.A. Waymack, and Harley Wilhelm.

The post-war campus
By early 1945, the number of Navy and Army cadets on campus lessened as the war wound down. Some of the ISC  men came back to ISC as seniors after serving only nine months on active duty. As the Army and Navy classes were scaled back, ISC students reoccupied the dormitories and fraternities. With the military’s departure, a semblance of normalcy and a longing for peace after four stressful and draining years of war found expression in student  publications. “Peace,” the 1945 Bomb suggested, “is a lot of little things… Smooth, green fields, unscarred by rolling tanks and bursting shells…brilliant sun…the time to lounge in the Union and discuss trivialities… the opportunity to join the morning parade to classes. Yes, peace is a lot of little things.”

As classes opened in the autumn of 1945, ISC saw enrollment blossom. Many of these students were returning veterans who received financial aid through the G.I. Bill to help them achieve a college education. These young men and women stood poised to enter the new post-war world, and the self-confidence expressed in their writing demonstrates that they not only understood the magnitude of the task before them, but that they expected to accomplish it. The students clearly understood the power of technology and their responsibility to use that power for good. “New generations,” the frontispiece to the 1946 Bomb reflected, “will be educated in the concepts of truth.” And Iowa State was to be one of the places where that education would take place.

While ISC could certainly provide the kind of technological education that the students called for, it encountered difficulties in finding places to teach and house them in the first years following the war. In the fall of 1945, enrollment reached 8,400, and then 9,200 the following autumn; 1,100 of them were married. To meet these challenges ISC turned to the federal government and secured a number of surplus structures, which they intended to be temporary that would house and teach students.

With the new influx of married veteran students, ISC needed to respond to meet their housing needs. The War Department responded by providing the college with enough structures to build what became Pammel Court, seen here under construction in 1946.

With the new influx of married veteran students, ISC needed to respond to meet their housing needs. The War Department responded by providing the college with enough structures to build what became Pammel Court, seen here under construction in 1946.

In January 1946, the ISC Student noted that 36 of a planned 150 temporary housing structures were ready for occupancy. This project soon became known as Pammel Court and by 1947 had spread to the north of the Chicago & North Western railroad embankment. Pammel Court reached its peak in terms of size and occupancy in 1947. That year about 3,600 students were spread across 152 trailers, 50 quonset huts with two families each, 79 demountable houses, 704 metal barracks, and 65 private trailer lots.

While conditions were cramped, the students and their families made the best of things. The Court included recreation and daycare facilities, along with a cooperative grocery store that boasted nearly 1,000 members in 1949. Holidays such at Thanksgiving were undertaken on a cooperative basis in Pammel Court during these years, as families  gathered and shared with neighbors.

Nevertheless, there was no disguising the fact that the buildings were government surplus and never intended for long-term student or family living. Constant maintenance problems with the number and variety of buildings plagued college authorities. One of the most frustrating maintenance issues for residents came in the winter of 1948-49. To  escape the cold days of winter, a significant number of rats gnawed their way into some of the buildings. The residents met this challenge by organizing a cadre of “some 75 volunteers [who] undertook a vigorous ‘anti-rat’ campaign which met with good results.”

Cooperative spirit was ever-present in the years right after the war. Here, Elizabeth and Harry Tullis and their daughters Suzanne and Patsy arrive with their portion of a cooperative Thanksgiving dinner with friends in their Pammel Court unit in 1948.

Cooperative spirit was ever-present in the years right after the war. Here, Elizabeth and Harry Tullis and their daughters Suzanne and Patsy arrive with their portion of a cooperative Thanksgiving dinner with friends in their Pammel Court unit in 1948.

Just as the federal government had provided the answer to meet the increased student housing needs, so too did it provide the answer to meet ISC’s needs for classroom space to teach the new students. Fifteen wooden buildings were acquired from the War Department. They housed reading rooms, classrooms, academic offices, graduate assistant offices, and conference rooms. They were drafty and cold in the winter and hot in the summer.

A nationally known school of science and technology
The significant number of new students on campus after the war changed the campus dynamic. Since so many of these students were much older than the pre-war collegian, they acted differently and had to be treated differently. The number and type of student clubs and organizations multiplied in the years after the war.

The 630 Club was one of the most prominent. Formed in the wake of the Cyclones’ disastrous 63-0 Homecoming loss to Oklahoma in 1946, the 630 Club worked to infuse Cyclone spirit on campus. The group did everything it could to boost Cyclone athletics: holding pep rallies, naming the “athlete of the week,” and placing that athlete’s photo in the Memorial Union. The group was such a success that it thrived and continued by the original founders as alumni, which helped transform it into the Cyclone Club.

Over the last years of the decade President Friley received an ever-increasing flow of petitions from students who  organized portions of campus for their causes. One of the largest petitions to reach the president came in the autumn  of 1949 over the issue of Friday classes before Homecoming. Since ISU’s first Homecoming in 1912, Friday classes before Homecoming had been cancelled to prepare for the alumni celebration. While the dance, lawn displays, and barbecue had been restored by 1949, the prohibition on the class break had not been rescinded. So, on the Thursday night before Homecoming, nearly 3,000 students marched on the Knoll with a petition asking President Friley to restore the tradition. At first the president refused, but he finally agreed to give the students Friday afternoon as a  break from classes to prepare for the coming of the alumni.

As the decade drew to a close, college authorities anticipated a drawdown in enrollment as the post-war boom fueled by returning veterans began to fade. Instead, the fall of 1948 saw the freshman class reach nearly 2,800, the largest in the history of the institution. But the number was not as significant as the fact that recent high school graduates  made up the vast majority of the class. In fact, the class was so large that its Freshman Days meeting filled the floor of the Armory.

This great influx of students coming straight from high school reflected not only the demand for access to higher education among post-war Americans, but also the fact that parents now had enough economic resources to provide that education for their children. The last years of the decade also saw ISC’s summer sessions remain heavily  subscribed. In 1948 nearly 3,500 students enrolled in each of the five-week summer sessions – the most in ISC’s history.

The new freshman class of 1948 was so large that it filled the entire floor of the Armory.

The new freshman class of 1948 was so large that it filled the entire floor of the Armory.

The large number of students not only changed the nature of student housing, but also the way the college registered the undergraduate population. Before the war, students had all registered for classes on the floor of the State Gym. Everything was done with paper and pencil. The post-war enrollment boom placed great stress on this system, and the administration soon realized that changes had to be made. In 1949, ISC registrar Jesse R. Sage found a technological solution to the problem. He told the Bomb staff that the college had secured a “modern” IBM punch-card registration system. “The new machines will fall just short of thinking,” the Bomb mused, “since they will alphabetize, sort out desired information, and perform tedious jobs normally requiring many workers.”

As the decade ended, it was clear that going forward ISC would no longer be primarily known for agriculture. The work done by Spedding and Whilhelm’s team for the war effort translated into significant amounts of federal funding, which would continue to enhance research in the post-war years. The Ames Lab and the Atomic Energy Institute meant new federal money and resources for new buildings, faculty, and graduate students. New buildings appeared on campus: Electrical Engineering (now Coover Hall), the Metallurgy Building, the Office and Laboratory building, the Synchrotron building, and Spedding Hall.

Thus, after a chaotic decade, Iowa State College reached the midway point in the 20th century as a nationally known school of science and technology. The carefree innocence of the quiet pre-war past was a rapidly fading memory.  Throughout the 1940s, change came at a hectic pace. The ISC that entered the 1950s was as large as it had ever  been and served a broader constituency, which placed increasing pressure to expand the curriculum and the types of majors that the institution offered. These pressures and expansions served as some of the final pieces in the foundation for the college to become a university in 1959.

Douglas Biggs (’82 history, MA ’86) is an associate professor of history at the University of Nebraska-Kearney.

Meet the Monuments Woman

Gladys Hamlin

George Clooney’s “The Monuments Men” hit movie theaters last winter, but did you know there is an Iowa State connection to the real-life story of these World War II-era art rescuers? Bonaparte, Iowa, native Gladys E. Hamlin was an ISU art history professor during WWII who served on the wartime Roberts Commission and helped write the how-to guides that were provided to the “Monuments Men” as they worked to steal artwork and antiquities from the Nazis.

Many of the once-classified field guides are housed in ISU Archives; Hamlin donated them before her death in 1986. They are written for soldiers who may not have known much about art history. For example, her guide to Rome starts out: “Rome is a very, very old city.”

Hamlin taught at ISU from 1949 until her retirement in 1973, and most of her former students had no idea she worked against the Nazis. Did you take a class from Gladys Hamlin? We’d love to hear your stories. Email the editor at

Moving forward: What’s next after VEISHEA 2014?

Just a few days after we sent the April issue of Young Alumni News, a Tuesday night riot that destroyed property in Campustown and sent one student to the intensive care unit marked an abrupt, early ending to the VEISHEA 2014 celebration we had just been promoting. In the weeks since, the campus has been working to understand the causes and impact of the disturbance and looking to the future of the more than-90-year-old tradition.

“The true purpose of VEISHEA has been overshadowed by too many acts of this nature,” ISU President Steven Leath told a packed press conference April 9, “which jeopardize the safety of our students and our community; this type of conduct is not going to be tolerated.”

The words were a chilling reality check for tearful VEISHEA organizers, dedicated alumni, and the ISU family. Ten years after then-president Gregory Geoffroy and then-GSB president Sophia Magill organized a task force to respond to a similar VEISHEA disturbance, the community was going through the motions again. On April 17 Leath announced the formation of his task force, of which Magill would again be a member, which would again work to dissect the issue and deliver a final recommendation to him by June 30. But this time, the future of VEISHEA was much less certain.

The task force conducted interviews and held several open forums to collection feedback from the community. You can view comments made at the May 13 open forum for alumni here.

On June 5, the task force voted unanimously to discontinue VEISHEA as we know it. On June 12, it voted 12-3-1 to abandon the name “VEISHEA.” However, it also voted 11-3 to craft a different overarching, university-wide celebration – the possible details of which will be discussed this Thursday at the task force’s next meeting. Stay tuned for the latest developments.

It goes without saying that young alumni were shocked, saddened, and angered by the riot and its aftermath, and that there are strong opinions on all sides about the cancellation of the 2014 event and the future of VEISHEA.  The future is now in the hands of the VEISHEA task force and, ultimately, President Leath. In the meantime, the Young Alumni Council caught up with some students and young grads to hear about their reactions to VEISHEA 2014, what VEISHEA means to them, and what they hope will happen in the coming weeks.

Jason Schuster, Current Student
2013 & 2014 VEISHEA Village Co-Chair
Zwingle, Iowa

Pictured, right

1. How did you first find out about the riot?
I first found out about the riot through social media. As a member of the VEISHEA 2014 Executive Board, I was exceptionally busy that night finishing up course projects, following up with emails, and making plans for VEISHEA events. I happened to check Facebook and saw several posts about the incident as it was unfolding. I then turned to the Ames PD scanner channel for updates.

2. What was your initial reaction?
Pure shock. For months the VEISHEA Executive Board and the VEISHEA Committees had worked very hard to put on events that Iowa State University and Ames Community could enjoy. Because of the events that took place on that Tuesday night, the hard work that hundreds of students, both within VEISHEA and students that participate in the events, was in jeopardy.

3. What does VEISHEA mean to you?

To me, VEISHEA is the only event of its kind that brings both Iowa State University and the Ames community together to celebrate our achievements and showcase everything that defines our great university. From the parade, campus showcase, VEISHEA Village, and food stands demonstrating outstanding clubs on campus to all of the colleges’ open houses, there is much to be proud of. Getting involved with VEISHEA through the VEISHEA Executive Board has been the most memorable experience of my college career. Some of the greatest student leaders on campus work together to organize the largest student-run festival in the country. It is fun to work with people who share a common passion for VEISHEA. No matter where life takes me, I will always be a member of the VEISHEA family.

4. What do you hope will come of the task force’s work?
I hope that the VEISHEA Task Force decides to reinstate future VEISHEA celebrations.

Kallen Anderson (’14 dietetics & family and consumer sciences ed)
Harcourt, Iowa

1. How did you first find out about the riot?
I found out that there were many students out in Camputown about 10:30 pm on Tuesday night. I followed Twitter, Facebook, and listened to the Ames Police Scanner until about 3 a.m. Wednesday as I was too worried about how the VEISHEA celebration may face negative consequences from the riot.

2. What was your initial reaction?
I was wondering why students are unable to control themselves, and where they learned that their actions were okay. I was worried that these students’ actions would bring negative comments to the VEISHEA celebration.

3. What does VEISHEA mean to you?
VEISHEA, to me, means celebrating the diversity that we have at Iowa State University of Science and Technology through the past, present, and future of our colleges and student organizations. VEISHEA means taking pride in what one has accomplished and learned while at Iowa State University and showing progress and successes of the students, staff, faculty, professors, and alumni of ISU.

4. What do you hope will come of the task force’s work?
To keep the VEISHEA celebration and to make changes to university policy and student conduct. There needs to be more education and prevention work done in regards to alcohol and harmful actions like the riot.

Meredith Abbott (’10 advertising)
Minneapolis, Minn.

Pictured with friends at VEISHEA ’07, right

1. How did you first find out about the riot?
Social media.

2. What was your initial reaction?
(Expletive). College. Kids.

3. What does VEISHEA mean to you?
It’s about the community coming together — not only the ISU community, but the citizens of Ames. Businesses prosper, culture is cultivated, and nostalgia becomes prevalent.

4. What do you hope will come of the task force’s work?
Stop making this a big deal. The bigger the deal, the more it will happen. Students want attention, and if that means rioting then they are going to riot. Instead, focus on making this the best time of their lives; give them more opportunities to be involved, because if you own something you want to take care of it and see it come to fruition.

Justin Van Wert (’11 ag business)
Hampton, Iowa

1. How did you first find out about the riot?
I first heard about the riots late that night via Twitter.

2. What was your initial reaction?
My initial reaction was disbelief.  That soon subsided and I was overcome with disappointment.  At first, I wasn’t disappointed or saddened by the potential permanent cancellation of VEISHEA but rather for all of those involved in the planning of VEISHEA.  Having been on both a committee and exec during my time at Iowa State, I know firsthand the time commitment and dedication it takes to plan one of the greatest student-run celebrations in the country.

3. What does VEISHEA mean to you?  
It’s hard to put into words what VEISHEA means to me. As a fourth-generation Iowa State graduate, VEISHEA expands past just what it means to me but also my family.  VEISHEA was one of my first introductions to Iowa State, as my family would make the trek to Ames year after year to enjoy the parade and cherry pies. It’s where I first walked on Central Campus as a kid, and at that point in my life all I remember is happiness and that happiness was associated with Iowa State. As I high school senior, I spent VEISHEA weekend with the fraternity I ended up joining and saw firsthand how VEISHEA created leadership opportunities as many of the fraternity members were highly involved in the planning committee. Consequently, VEISHEA turned into a leadership and developmental opportunity throughout college as I got involved as a committee and executive member. VEISHEA has been a family reunion, a reason to attend Iowa State, an opportunity to improve my leadership skills, an avenue to make friendships, and among a thousand other reasons, a constant motive to be proud to be associated with Iowa State.

4. What do you hope will come of the task force’s work?
I hope the task force finds a way to keep VEISHEA in some form.  VEISHEA means so much to too many people to be discontinued due to riots. I fully appreciate student safety, and that should be always be held as a primary concern of all involved. That said, I challenge the task force to strike a balance and not overreact based on the decisions of a minority. Would the riots have occurred if it weren’t VEISHEA week? We’ll never know that for sure. Will thousands of proud alumni, Ames residents, current students, and other curious individuals from all walks of life descend upon Ames once a year to celebrate Iowa State and all it stands for if VEISHEA is canceled?  I hope that the task force comes up with a solution that makes us never have to answer that question.

The 1992 VEISHEA Task Force (Galloway 1992) identified nine traditional purposes of VEISHEA. Have you seen this list before?

  1. To provide an opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to showcase the academic programs of the university and its extension services.
  2. To provide opportunities for the development of student leadership.
  3. To provide an opportunity to link the university to the Ames community and to the citizens of Iowa.
  4. To provide students an opportunity for positive social interaction.
  5. To provide an opportunity for student recruitment.
  6. To provide a focal point for alumni activity and interaction with the university.
  7. To recognize distinguished alumni and friends of the university.
  8. To provide fundraising opportunities for student organizations.
  9. To affirm and sustain the traditions of the university.

Read more about the VEISHEA task force’s work at

Five Things

Here are five things to put on your Cardinal & Gold radar this week:

1) As the June 30 deadline for its final recommendation approaches, the VEISHEA Task Force took another step forward at its meeting last Thursday night. On June 5, the group voted to discontinue VEISHEA in its current form, and on June 12 the task force voted 11-3 to move forward with recommending a different overarching, university-wide celebration and 12-3-1 to abandon the name “VEISHEA.” Faculty Senate rep Michael Owen was one who voted “no” to creating an alternative celebration. Owen pointed out that students will still associate a celebration with drinking, no matter the name. What a potential alternative celebration might look like and when it might be held will be the subject of this week’s task force discussion. Follow the task force’s work online at President Leath will have the final say this summer.

2) The big news coming out of this month’s Board of Regents meeting was an approved change to the state’s model for funding its public universities. The new model seeks to balance out some inequities that resulted from adhering to a percent annual increase formula over the last 50 years (the University of Iowa currently receives almost half of all funding, with the University of Northern Iowa bringing up the rear at a mere 18 percent). While the plan is not without its detractors — particularly in Iowa City, a large number have praised it as best for the state. The Des Moines Register‘s recent editorial endorsing the new plan explains the details.

3) A recent Forbes article online identified Iowa State as a university to “buy” if “colleges were a stock market.” Author Rich Karlgaard says land-grant universities are currently on the rise, as private colleges start pricing themselves out of the market — and out of relevancy. “Make no mistake: The expensive liberal arts colleges in America are going down — fast and hard. If colleges were a stock market, I’d short the heck out of Haverford, Brandeis, Smith and their ilk,” he writes. “I’d buy America’s great public universities known for their strength in science and engineering, and I’d be biased toward universities with a land-grant history.” We’re biased too, of course — but we appreciate the sentiment.

4) We know Johnny Orr once played professional basketball in Waterloo, Iowa, but last week we learned about another Iowa-based professional sports connection to ISU — this time on the baseball diamond.  Eighteen former Iowa Staters (like recent Hall of Fame inductee and World Series champ Mike Myers) have played major league ball — but do you know the story of Wyoming, Iowa, native Dutch Levsen? Levsen played professional baseball in Cedar Rapids for a team called — wait for it — the Bunnies. Read more about him on the Cedar Rapids Kernels blog. Thanks to the Kernels for bringing the history to life for us. (The ISUAA Club of Linn & Johnson Counties’ ISU Day at the Kernels was Saturday, by the way.)

5) Today ESPN released its list of top 50 men’s college basketball coaches. Although we all know The Mayor is No. 1, we’ll take 15th.

Meet the 2014 Iowa STATEment Makers: Cathy Compton

Iowa STATEment Makers is a recognition program of the Iowa State University Alumni Association’s Young Alumni Council, honoring graduates of the past 10 years who have made strong statements in careers, entrepreneurial endeavors, academics, community service, or personal achievements. There are 17 honorees for 2014, and we’re introducing each of them to you here on the blog.

Boulder, Colo.

Compton photoCathy (’08 music education) was selected as a Fulbright Scholar in 2011 while she was earning her master’s degree in vocal performance and pedagogy from the University of Colorado. The scholarship allowed her to spend the 2011-2012 academic year in Leipzig, Germany, as an active performer and researcher on the project “In Her Own Right: The Music of Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel.” She performed throughout Germany, including at the Mendelssohn House Museum. Despite her many professional successes and her demanding travel schedule, Cathy never forgot the connections she made at Iowa State. When former classmate Joey Wilgenbusch ’05 passed away unexpectedly, Cathy helped coordinate an endowed scholarship in her best friend’s name. From thousands of miles away, she worked tirelessly in Wilgenbusch’s memory. Her efforts culminated in a Joey Wilgenbusch Memorial Gala event that was held July 29, 2012 in the Martha-Ellen Tye Recital Hall. A concert will be held annually to continue supporting the scholarship. Today Cathy works as the director of a non-profit fine arts school in Boulder and continues to reprise her Fulbright grant work – even performing at the German-American Embassy in Washington, D.C., and as a guest artist in the Salisbury House Chamber Series in Des Moines.

Cathy on…

…her favorite ISU tradition: “Madrigal Dinner”

…her favorite spot on campus: “On stage at Stephens Auditorium – an incredibly beautiful place to perform. But I also have to give a shout out to the dessert case in the Union Drive Community Center.”

… her favorite app: “Whatsapp”

…her favorite quote: “’To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time.’ – Leonard Bernstein”


Meet the 2014 Iowa STATEment Makers: Tyler Weig

Iowa STATEment Makers is a recognition program of the Iowa State University Alumni Association’s Young Alumni Council, honoring graduates of the past 10 years who have made strong statements in careers, entrepreneurial endeavors, academics, community service, or personal achievements. There are 17 honorees for 2014, and we’re introducing each of them to you here on the blog.

Weig photo

Des Moines, Iowa
Annual Member

In the summer of 2005, Tyler (’05 community health education) made headlines when he bicycled 4,000 miles across the United States to raise money for the American Cancer Society. It was a remarkable accomplishment, but Tyler’s selfless acts didn’t end there. In January 2013, he was in the news again for another extraordinary feat: donating a healthy kidney to a stranger. A Jan. 12, 2013 Des Moines Register headline proclaimed: “Five people get transplants thanks to one man’s desire to help others.” Tyler told VISIONS magazine: “The world is full of wonderfully miraculous opportunities to join together to create something greater than ourselves. I’m so lucky to be just one part of the tremendous team of doctors, nurses, social workers, hospital staff, family, friends, caregivers, media, strangers, donors, recipients, supporters, etc., that made the kidney donation a reality.” Today Tyler works as the executive director of Des Moines’ South Suburban YMCA and continues to find new ways to reach out and make a difference for others.

Tyler on…

….his favorite college memory: “Making new friends while learning about the world, others, and myself”

…the movie he’s always quoting: “Rocky I, II, III, IV, V, and VI”

…his guilty pleasure: “chips and salsa”

…what would make the world a better place: “If world leaders would focus more on their responsibility, not their power.”


Five Things

Here are five things to put on your Cyclone radar this week:

1) A fire broke out in the mechanical penthouse on top of Sweeney Hall last Friday morning. No one was injured, but the building — which houses ISU’s chemical and biological engineering department — sustained expensive smoke and water damage. The cause of the fire is still being determined, as the Ames Fire Department is handling the investigation.

aashechtman_1E4722E3EE8672) Dan Shechtman, Iowa State’s first Nobel Prize winner, is eyeing another prestigious distinction: president of Israel. Keep in mind that the Israeli presidency is a separate position from that of prime minister, so responsibilities for governance are limited. Presidents serve 7-year terms and are elected via secret ballot by the Knesset — the country’s unicameral national legislature. Israeli presidents are often distinguished in other fields, not just politics — and Shechtman clearly fits that bill as a Nobel laureate.

The Times of Israel recently reported that Shechtman has secured the required 10 signatures he needs from Knesset members to be on the ballot. And a TV news poll indicates that he will be a leading contender in the June 10 election.

“I think I can change things for the better,” Shechtman told the press. “I’m doing it now as well, in many areas — mostly in education, higher education, and technological entrepreneurship. But I think I could do a lot more from a presidential position.”

Shechtman, who is an ISU professor of materials science and engineering/Ames Lab research scientist in addition to the Philip Tobias Professor of Materials Science at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2011 for his 1982 discovery of quasicrystals — an achievement that was initially met with skepticism and even hostility before being confirmed, embraced, and lauded by the scientific community. Becoming president of his country would certainly bring things full circle. Stay tuned.

3) Thanks in part to a pair of top-25 finishes by the ISU men’s and women’s golf teams at their respective NCAA championships last week, Iowa State has officially entered uncharted territory when it comes to the annual conference all-sports rankings. In 2013-2014, for the first time in history, ISU finished in the top half of the league for its performance across all programs. Thirteen of ISU’s 18 sports finished in the upper division of the team standings, and women’s cross country won a third-straight Big 12 title this year. Read more about it on Steve Malchow’s Cyclone athletics blog, 2:00 Timeout.

4) Like it or lump it, reality television is here to stay. But with so many shows hitting the airwaves over the last decade, we at the Alumni Association have heard of surprisingly few Iowa State connections to the genre. Jeffrey Saad ’89 is probably the most notable example of an Iowa Stater on the reality tube. He came in second on The Next Food Network Star but went on to compete on Chopped: All-Stars and become a regular on the Food Network and its sister station, The Cooking Channel. We’ve occasionally had Iowa Staters appear on smaller, cable reality shows — in fact, we learned last month that a current ISU student dance team member appears on the upcoming season of Country Music Television’s Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team.


But overall, not a lot of Iowa State stories have emerged from this world (Maybe Iowa State grads are “too smart and self-confident to appear on this crap,” one alum wrote on our Facebook page last week. Her words.) But regardless of your feelings about the program, Iowa State’s latest reality TV connection is on what is arguably one of the biggest reality television series ever — The Bachelorette. So, needless to say, it’s catching quite a bit of attention. Northeast Iowa farmer Chris Soules ’04 is one of the 25 bachelors vying for the affections of Andi Dorfman on this season’s show, and so far he’s made a good impression on the protagonist. Here’s some video of him on a date with Andi from ABC’s website. Whether or not he finds true love in a reality TV world, we wish him well.


5) The VISIONS Across America: Portraits of Iowa State Alumni by Jim Heemstra photography exhibition has been up in the Brunnier Art Museum for two months now, and it will remain open through Aug. 9. Whether you’ve seen it yet or not, this coming Sunday is a perfect opportunity to visit the gallery. Hear more from the artist (Jim) and the editor (Carole) at the exhibition’s public lecture. This free event starts at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 8 in the Brunnier. Jim and Carole will share some inspiring stories about the alumni they met while traveling across the U.S. for more than two years. They’ve received many comments about what an ambitious project it must have been, so here’s a chance to find out exactly how daunting it was — and what really went into making a crazy dream a reality.