One man’s campus


Through 50 years and five university presidents, Warren Madden has been a stable and continuous presence at Iowa State

Quick: Name a building on the Iowa State campus that was not built or improved
under the watchful eye of Warren Madden, senior vice president for business and

That’s a tough one, because Madden (L)(’61 industrial engineering) has served in a management role at Iowa State since 1966 – a full 50 years of leadership and involvement at his alma mater. During that time, Iowa State has grown from 15,000 students (up from 9,800 students when Madden enrolled here as a freshman in 1957) to an enrollment last fall of 36,001.

“Warren Madden has been instrumental in shaping Iowa State University into the world-class institution it is today,” ISU President Steven Leath (L) said following Madden’s announcement in February that he would retire this summer. “He’s impacted every corner of campus over the past 50 years.”

Madden came to Iowa State as an engineering student in 1957 from the Chicago suburb of Glen Ellyn, Ill. He and his future wife, Bev, were high school sweethearts. Bev (L) earned her degree in home economics education at Iowa State in 1960 and began a graduate program in home management. As part of her graduate appointment she became adviser to the home management houses that were located on the east side of campus.

During Madden’s senior year in college, he and Bev decided to get married. The question was, where would they live? Madden remembers being invited to the Tearoom in MacKay Hall, where he was “thoroughly grilled” by then-dean Helen LeBaron Hilton for the better part of a morning before she and others in the department determined it would not be inappropriate for him to live in North Fisher, one of the home management units, with his new bride.

Thus began his adventures living with 36 women.

Every six weeks 12 women would move into the house to serve their quarter-long home management residency. The women had bedrooms on the top floor. The main floor consisted of a big, traditional living room, a kitchen, dining room, and the adviser’s bedroom. The newlyweds had their own living room and study in the basement. Each quarter, the 12 women lived full-time in the home management home, planned all the meals, did all the shopping, and managed the budget. Every meal was unique.

“Think about six weeks of breakfasts and never serving the same thing twice,” Madden says, chuckling. “About week three, you’re out of your traditional eggs and bacon and cereals and toast, and then they’re into cream cheeses and things at 7 o’clock in the morning. I finally said to Bev, ‘Thanks, but why don’t you go out and do all of this and I’ll stay down in the basement with our milk carton, cold cereal boxes, and toaster and I’ll do my own thing.”

After graduation in 1961, Madden went to work for 3M. He earned an MBA from the University of Chicago in 1965.

And then, in 1966, he returned to Iowa State to be the grants and contracts officer for then-vice president for business and finance Wayne Moore. Iowa State was a very different place at that time. W. Robert Parks was president, and the campus was about to embark on a substantial growth spurt, both in terms of its physical size and its student enrollment.

Madden’s role also grew under Parks’ administration (1965-1986). He became the assistant vice president and treasurer and then associate vice president and treasurer. When Moore became vice president for economic development in 1984, Parks named Madden vice president for business and finance, a position he would hold until 2012 when his title changed to senior vice president under President Leath.

In his role as the senior financial adviser to five presidents, Madden oversaw facilities planning and management, accounting and finance, human resource management, public safety, purchasing, University Museums, and more. He helped lead the growth of the campus as it moved south to include what is now the Iowa State Center (Hilton Coliseum, Stephens Auditorium, Fisher Theater, and the Scheman Building), Jack Trice Stadium, Reiman Gardens, the ISU Alumni Center, and the College of Veterinary Medicine facilities.

“I’ve sort of been here through the life cycle of that southern end of the south campus,” Madden says. “Getting those buildings down there and the stadium done, that’s probably done more to change the character of Iowa State than anything else.”

Madden was instrumental in the renovation of Iowa State’s historical buildings: Old Botany (now Catt Hall), Morrill Hall, the Memorial Union, the Campanile, Curtiss Hall, and currently Marston Hall, to name a few. In 1999, Iowa State’s central campus was one of three university campuses to be recognized by the American Society of Landscape Architects as a special place embodying the “heart and soul” of the institution.

Director of University Museums Lynette Pohlman (L)(’72 interior design, MA ’76) is one of Madden’s longest-reporting employees, having joined the staff in 1988.

“Warren is very supportive of all of his units,” Pohlman says. “He is very supportive of his staff. He listens, he seeks recommendations, and he fine-tunes your thinking. He allows you to fail, and he celebrates when you succeed. He’s always about moving forward. His greatest assets are continuity, stability, vision, and the trust that he builds.”

Madden coordinated the campus recovery following major flooding in 1993, 2008, and 2010. He worked to establish the Green Hills retirement community, the Gateway hotel complex, and Research Park. He’s served on the boards of many of Iowa State’s affiliated organizations, including the ISU Foundation, ISU Alumni Association, Stanton Memorial Carillon Foundation, and the Agricultural Foundation.

withwarrenHe and Bev have given their personal financial support to projects on campus, including construction of the Palmer Building and the Jischke Honors Building, renovation of Beardshear and Morrill Halls, and key cultural offerings such as the performing arts and museums.

“In addition to managing the university’s budget as it increased from just over $268 million to $1.4 billion and overseeing the expansion of campus to more than 13.8 million square feet of building space, he and Bev have also personally supported a number of campus and community projects,” Leath said.

Madden concurs that he’s had a hand in not only the size and scope of the campus, but also its reputation.

“There are a lot of building programs in 50-plus years – that’s a third of Iowa State’s being around – so I’ve had the chance to see the impact of a variety of facility projects, and lots of them have been challenges,” he says. “The campus is a very different place than it was when I was here as a student.”

Madden’s impact can be seen beyond the confines of the campus. He’s addressed issues that have benefited the city of Ames as well as the university. He’s a master consensus-builder. And he’s served on countless boards and committees within the community.

He cites the creation of what is now Ames City Hall from what was once the high school as an early victory. He’s worked with the city on student housing issues, the challenges faced during several VEISHEA celebrations, the expansion of meeting and convention facilities, cultural offerings, the CyRide transportation system, and the recent reinvention of Campustown.

“I’ve had a chance to travel around the country, and I really do believe we probably have one of the best relationships you’ll find in college and university communities,” Madden says. “I think we’ve done a good job… Th is is a company town in reality, and Iowa State’s the major enterprise. On any given day there are probably 45,000 people on the campus – and the community’s probably around 64,000 – so more than half of this community is connected with Iowa State either as students or staff and faculty who work here.”

The Maddens can be seen at Iowa State and community events ranging from cultural activities to athletics.

“I tell people – and I’m partly kidding but partly serious – that I get half my work done Sunday mornings in the grocery store,” Madden says. “That’s the kind of community Ames is. Our social life and our work life are so intertwined you can’t separate them. You go to basketball games and you’re there to be a fan and watch and cheer Iowa State on, but I end up interacting with alumni and business in that, which I happen to enjoy.”

For his longtime contributions to the Ames community, Madden received the Ames Tribune’s Citizen of the Year award in 2013.

The Maddens plan to spend their retirement years in Ames, their longtime home.

“I hope to be involved in some community and volunteer things,” he says. “I hope I can continue to be an Iowa State supporter, fan, and alumnus and be engaged in ways that are helpful. Bev and I also have a bucket list of some travel we’d like to do.”

He says he’ll miss the day-to-day connections with the people on campus, and he’ll miss his interaction with the students.

“There’s this vibrancy that you have every fall when another 6,000 or 7,000 new people sort of arrive, and they look the same every year and yet you get a year older. I’ll miss some of that interaction. Bev says she’ll know [my retirement is] really happening when I don’t get up and walk out the door early in the morning.”

Madden’s many contributions to campus will no doubt be missed. “Warren has so much Iowa State knowledge and so many connections,” Pohlman said. “Iowa State will miss that.”

“Warren is an institution here and one of the most loyal, generous, and humble people in our Iowa State family,” Leath said. “His legacy is unmatched, and we will be forever grateful for his dedication and service.”


One thought on “One man’s campus

  1. Pingback: Iowa State University: 2016 in Review | ISU Alumni Association

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