Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

Iowa State University

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Science with practice

$760.4 million (2016)

Acceptance rate
86.9% (2014)

Total enrollment
36,660 (2016)

Cardinal, Gold


Ames, IA 50011, USA

Cy the Cardinal

+1 515-294-4111

Iowa State University

Former names
Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm (1858–1898) Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (1898–1959)

Public Flagship Land-grant Space-grant

Academic affiliations
Association of American Universities, Universities Research Association

Undergraduate tuition and fees
Local tuition: 7,736 USD (2015), Domestic tuition: 20,856 USD (2015)

Notable alumni
George Washington Carver, John Vincent Atanasoff, Carrie Chapman Catt, Jack Trice, Clayton Anderson

University of Iowa, University of Northern Iowa, Purdue University, Drake University, Des Moines Area Co


Iowa state university college of engineering 2015

Iowa State University of Science and Technology is a public flagship land-grant and space-grant research university located in Ames, Iowa, United States. Iowa State is classified as a Research University with very high research activity (RU/VH) by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Iowa State is also a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), which consists of 62 leading research universities in North America. Iowa State has also been designated an "Innovation and Economic Prosperity University," a designation awarded to only 54 public universities in the U.S.


Founded in 1858 and coeducational from its start, Iowa State became the nation’s first designated land-grant institution when the Iowa Legislature accepted the provisions of the 1862 Morrill Act on September 11, 1862, making Iowa the first state in the nation to do so.

Iowa State's academic offerings are administered today through eight colleges, including the graduate college, that offer over 100 bachelor's degree programs, 112 master's degree programs, and 83 at the Ph.D. level, plus a professional degree program in Veterinary Medicine.

Iowa State University's athletic teams, the Cyclones, compete in Division I of the NCAA and are a founding member of the Big 12 Conference. The Cyclones field 16 varsity teams and have won numerous NCAA national championships.


In 1856, the Iowa General Assembly enacted legislation to establish the Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm. This institution (now Iowa State University) was officially established on March 22, 1858, by the General Assembly. Story County was chosen as the location on June 21, 1859, beating proposals from Johnson, Kossuth, Marshall and Polk counties. The original farm of 648 acres (2.62 km2) was purchased for a cost of $5,379.

Iowa was the first state in the nation to accept the provisions of the Morrill Act of 1862. Iowa subsequently designated Iowa State as the land-grant college on March 29, 1864. From the start, Iowa Agricultural College focused on the ideals that higher education should be accessible to all and that the university should teach liberal and practical subjects. These ideals are integral to the land-grant university.

The institution was coeducational from the first preparatory class admitted in 1868. The formal admitting of students began the following year, and the first graduating class of 1872 consisted of 24 men and two women.

The Farm House, the first building on the Iowa State campus, was completed in 1861 before the campus was occupied by students or classrooms. It became the home of the superintendent of the Model Farm and in later years, the deans of Agriculture, including Seaman Knapp and "Tama Jim" Wilson. Iowa State's first president, Adonijah Welch, briefly stayed at the Farm House and penned his inaugural speech in a second floor bedroom.

The college's first farm tenants primed the land for agricultural experimentation. The Iowa Experiment Station was one of the university's prominent features. Practical courses of instruction were taught, including one designed to give a general training for the career of a farmer. Courses in mechanical, civil, electrical, and mining engineering were also part of the curriculum.

In 1870, President Welch and I. P. Robert, professor of agriculture, held three-day farmers' institutes at Cedar Falls, Council Bluffs, Washington, and Muscatine. These became the earliest institutes held off-campus by a land grant institution and were the forerunners of 20th century extension.

In 1872, the first courses were given in domestic economy (home economics, family and consumer sciences) and were taught by Mary B. Welch, the president's wife. Iowa State became the first land grant university in the nation to offer training in domestic economy for college credit.

In 1879, the "School" of Veterinary Science was organized, the first state veterinary college in the United States (although veterinary courses has been taught since the beginning of the College). This was originally a two-year course leading to a diploma. The veterinary course of study contained classes in zoology, botany, anatomy of domestic animals, veterinary obstetrics, and sanitary science.

William M. Beardshear was appointed President of Iowa State in 1891. During his tenure, Iowa Agricultural College truly came of age. Beardshear developed new agricultural programs and was instrumental in hiring premier faculty members such Anson Marston, Louis B. Spinney, J.B. Weems, Perry G. Holden, and Maria Roberts. He also expanded the university administration, and the following buildings were added to the campus: Morrill Hall (1891); the Campanile (1899); Old Botany (now Carrie Chapman Catt Hall) (1892); and Margaret Hall (1895) which continue to stand today. In his honor, Iowa State named its central administrative building (Central Building) after Beardshear in 1925. In 1898, reflecting the school's growth during his tenure, it was renamed Iowa State College of Agricultural and Mechanic Arts, or Iowa State for short.

Today, Beardshear Hall holds the following offices: President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Secretary, Registrar, Provost, and student financial aid. Catt Hall is named after famed alumna Carrie Chapman Catt and is the home of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

In 1912 Iowa State had its first Homecoming celebration. The idea was first proposed by Professor Samuel Beyer, the college’s “patron saint of athletics,” who suggested that Iowa State inaugurate a celebration for alumni during the annual football game against rival University of Iowa. Iowa State’s new president, Raymond A. Pearson, liked the idea and issued a special invitation to alumni two weeks prior to the event: “We need you, we must have you. Come and see what a school you have made in Iowa State College. Find a way.” In October 2012 Iowa State marked its 100th Homecoming with a "CYtennial" Celebration.

Iowa State celebrated its first VEISHEA on May 11–13, 1922. Wallace McKee (class of 1922) served as the first chairman of the Central Committee and Frank D. Paine (professor of electrical engineering) chose the name, based on the first letters of Iowa State's colleges: Veterinary Medicine, Engineering, Industrial Science, Home Economics, and Agriculture. VEISHEA grew to become the largest student-run festival in the nation.

The Statistical Laboratory was established in 1933, with George W. Snedecor, professor of mathematics, as the first director. It was and is the first research and consulting institute of its kind in the country.

While attempting to develop a faster method of computation, mathematics and physics professor John Vincent Atanasoff conceptualized the basic tenets of what would become the world’s first electronic digital computer, the Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC), during a drive to Illinois in 1937. These included the use of a binary system of arithmetic, the separation of computer and memory functions, and regenerative drum memory, among others. The 1939 prototype was constructed with graduate student Clifford Berry in the basement of the Physics Building.

During World War II, Iowa State was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program which offered students a path to a Navy commission.

Maturity as a university

On July 4, 1959, the college was officially renamed Iowa State University of Science and Technology. However, the short-form name "Iowa State University" is used even in official documents such as diplomas.

Official names given to the university’s divisions were the College of Agriculture, College of Engineering, College of Home Economics, College of Sciences and Humanities, and College of Veterinary Medicine.

Iowa State's eight colleges today offer more than 100 undergraduate majors and 200 fields of study leading to graduate and professional degrees. The academic program at ISU includes a liberal arts education and some of the world's leading research in the biological and physical sciences.

Breakthroughs at Iowa State changing the world are in the areas of human, social, economic, and environmental sustainability; new materials and processes for biomedical as well as industrial applications; nutrition, health, and wellness for humans and animals; transportation and infrastructure; food safety and security; plant and animal sciences; information and decision sciences; and renewable energies. The focus on technology has led directly to many research patents and inventions including the first binary computer (the ABC), Maytag blue cheese, the round hay baler, and many more.

Located on a 2,000 acres (8.1 km2) campus, the university has grown considerably from its roots as an agricultural college and model farm and is recognized internationally today for its comprehensive research programs. It continues to grow and set a new record for enrollment in the fall of 2015 with 36,001 students.

Timeline chronology

Events occurring in the same year did not necessarily happen in the order presented here.

Colleges and schools

Iowa State University is organized into eight colleges and two schools that offer 100 Bachelor's degree programs, 112 Masters programs, and 83 Ph.D programs, including one professional degree program in Veterinary Medicine.

ISU is home to the following schools:

  • Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communication (within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences)
  • School of Education (within the College of Human Sciences)
  • Choral Program

    The Choral Division of the Department of Music and Theater at Iowa State University consists of over 400 choristers in four main ensembles – the Iowa State Singers, Cantamus, the Iowa Statesmen, and Lyrica – and multiple small ensembles including two a cappella groups, Count Me In (female) and Shy of a Dozen (male).

    Under the direction of Dr. James Rodde, Director of Choral Activities, the Iowa State Singers have been honored with invitations to perform at conventions of the National Collegiate Choral Organization (2008, 2011), the North Central American Choral Directors Association (2010), and the American Choral Directors Association (2005, 2009, 2015). The have also been honored with the award for Best Recording by the American Prize. The Iowa State Singers embark on an annual regional tour, and, in recent years, have toured internationally to Europe, China, and South Korea. Dr. Rodde also conducts the Iowa Statesmen and teaches courses in Choral Conducting and Literature. From 1985 to 2000, he was Director of Choral Programs at the University of North Dakota and lead his UND Concert Choir in performances at the 1993 and 1997 national conventions of the American Choral Directors Association.

    Led by Kathleen Rodde, Cantamus, the premier women’s choir at ISU, has been invited to perform at conventions of the Music Educators National Conference (2004), the North Central American Choral Directors Association (2000, 2004, 2010) and the American Choral Directors Association (2013, 2017). Prof. Rodde is also the conductor of ISU's other women's choir, Lyrica, and teaches courses in Choral Methods and Piano Skills. She was formerly on the faculty at the University of North Dakota.


    Classified as one of Carnegie's "R1: Doctoral Universities - Highest Research Activity," Iowa State receives nearly $300 million in research grants each year.

    The university is one of 62 elected members of the Association of American Universities, an organization composed of the most highly ranked public and private research universities in the U.S. and Canada.

    In 2016-17 Iowa State university became part of only fifty-four institutions in the U.S. to have earned the "Innovation and Economic Prosperity University" designation by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

    Overall, ISU ranks 111th in the U.S. News & World Report ranking of national universities and 42nd in the Washington Monthly rankings. In engineering specialties, at schools whose highest degree is a doctorate, Iowa State's biological/agricultural engineering program is ranked first, the mechanical and civil are ranked 9th and 16th nationally in the U.S. by U.S. News & World Report. Almost all of the engineering specialities at ISU are ranked in the top 30 nationally... ISU's chemistry and physics programs are considered to be some of the best in the world and are ranked in the Top 100 globally and in Top 50 nationally. ISU's Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communication is one of the top journalism schools in the country and is notable for being among the first group of accredited journalism and mass communication programs. Greenlee is also cited as one of the leading JMC research programs in the nation, ranked 23rd in a publication by the AEJMC.

    The National Science Foundation ranks ISU 78th in the nation in total research and development expenditures and 94th in research and development expenditures for science and engineering. Currently, ISU ranks second nationally in license and options executed on its intellectual property and #2 nationally in license and options that yield income.

    In 2016, ISU's landscape architecture program was ranked as the 10th best undergraduate program in the nation, and architecture as the 18th best.

    Parks Library

    The W. Robert and Ellen Sorge Parks Library contains over 2.6 million books and subscribes to more than 98,600 journal titles. Named for W. Robert Parks (1915–2003), the 11th president of Iowa State University, and his wife, Ellen Sorge Parks, the original library was built in 1925 with three subsequent additions made in 1961, 1969, and 1983. The library was dedicated and named after W. Robert and Ellen Sorge Parks in 1984.

    Parks Library provides extensive research collections, services and information literacy instruction/information for all students. Facilities consist of the main Parks Library, the e-Library, the Veterinary Medical Library, two subject-oriented reading rooms (design and mathematics), and a remote library storage building.

    The Library’s extensive collections include electronic and print resources that support research and study for all undergraduate and graduate programs. Nationally recognized collections support the basic and applied fields of biological and physical sciences. The Parks Library includes four public service desks: the Learning Connections Center, the Circulation Desk, the Media Center (including Maps, Media, Microforms, and Course Reserve collections), and Special Collections. The Library’s instruction program includes a required undergraduate information literacy course as well as a wide variety of subject-based seminars on effective use of Library resources for undergraduate and graduate students.

    The e-Library, accessed through the Internet, provides access to local and Web-based resources including electronic journals and books, local collections, online indexes, electronic course reserves and guides, and a broad range of subject research guides.

    Surrounding the first floor lobby staircase in Parks Library are eight mural panels designed by Iowa artist Grant Wood. As with Breaking the Prairie Sod, Wood's other Iowa State University mural painted two years later, Wood borrowed his theme for When Tillage Begins Other Arts Follow from a speech on agriculture delivered by Daniel Webster in 1840 at the State House in Boston. Webster said, “When tillage begins, other arts follow. The farmers therefore are the founders of human civilization.” Wood had planned to create seventeen mural panels for the library, but only the eleven devoted to agriculture and the practical arts were completed. The final six, which would have hung in the main reading room (now the Periodical Room) and were to have depicted the fine arts, were never begun.

    Underground Comix Collection

    The Special Collections Department at the Parks Library houses a collection of underground comix from 1947 to 2007. The collection also consists of correspondences between the Special Collections Department, comic book artists, and dealers.

    Intensive English and Orientation Program

    The university has an IEOP for foreign students. Students whose native language is not English can take IEOP courses to improve their English proficiency to help them succeed at University-level study. IEOP course content also helps students prepare for English proficiency exams, like the TOEFL and IELTS. Classes included in the IEOP include Grammar, Reading, Writing, Oral Communication and Business and various bridge classes.

    Birthplace of first electronic digital computer

    Iowa State is the birthplace of the first electronic digital computer, starting the world’s computer technology revolution. Invented by mathematics and physics professor John Atanasoff and engineering graduate student Clifford Berry during 1937-42, the Atanasoff-Berry Computer, or ABC, pioneered important elements of modern computing, including binary arithmetic, regenerative memory, parallel processing, electronic switching elements, and separation of memory and computer functions.

    On October 19, 1973, U.S. Federal Judge Earl R. Larson signed his decision following a lengthy court trial which declared the ENIAC patent of Mauchly and Eckert invalid and named Atanasoff the inventor of the electronic digital computer—the Atanasoff-Berry Computer or the ABC.

    An ABC Team consisting of Ames Laboratory and Iowa State engineers, technicians, researchers and students unveiled a working replica of the Atanasoff-Berry Computer in 1997 which can be seen on display on campus in the Durham Computation Center.

    Birth of cooperative extension

    The Extension Service traces its roots to farmers’ institutes developed at Iowa State in the late 19th century. Committed to community, Iowa State pioneered the outreach mission of being a land-grant college through creation of the first Extension Service in 1902. In 1906, the Iowa Legislature enacted the Agricultural Extension Act making funds available for demonstration projects. It is believed this was the first specific legislation establishing state extension work, for which Iowa State assumed responsibility. The national extension program was created in 1914 based heavily on the Iowa State model.

    Manhattan Project

    ISU is the only university nationwide that has a U.S. Department of Energy research laboratory physically located on its campus. Iowa State played a critical role in the development of the atomic bomb during World War II as part of the Manhattan Project, a research and development program begun in 1942 under the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop the atomic bomb.

    The process to produce large quantities of high-purity uranium metal became known as the Ames process. One-third of the uranium metal used in the world’s first controlled nuclear chain reaction was produced at Iowa State under the direction of Frank Spedding and Harley Wilhelm. The Ames project received the Army-Navy ‘E’ Award for Excellence in Production on October 12, 1945, signifying two-and-one-half years of excellence in industrial production of metallic uranium as a vital war material. Iowa State is unique among educational institutions to have received this award for outstanding service, an honor normally given to industry.

    Today, the Ames Laboratory focuses on more peaceful applications of materials research, usually related to increasing energy efficiency. It has broadened the scope of its research into various areas of national concern, including energy resources, high-speed computer design, environmental cleanup and restoration, and the synthesis and study of new materials.

    VEISHEA celebration

    Iowa State is widely known for VEISHEA, an annual education and entertainment festival that was held on campus each spring. The name VEISHEA was derived from the initials of ISU's five original colleges, forming an acronym as the university existed when the festival was founded in 1922:

  • Veterinary Medicine
  • Engineering
  • Industrial Science
  • Home Economics
  • Agriculture
  • VEISHEA was the largest student run festival in the nation, bringing in tens of thousands of visitors to the campus each year.

    The celebration featured an annual parade and many open-house demonstrations of the university facilities and departments. Campus organizations exhibited products, technologies, and held fund raisers for various charity groups. In addition, VEISHEA brought speakers, lecturers, and entertainers to Iowa State, and throughout its over eight decade history, it has hosted such distinguished guests as Bob Hope, John Wayne, Presidents Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan, and Lyndon Johnson, and performers Diana Ross, Billy Joel, Sonny and Cher, The Who, The Goo Goo Dolls, Bobby V, and The Black Eyed Peas.

    The 2007 VEISHEA festivities marked the start of Iowa State's year-long sesquicentennial celebration.

    On August 8, 2014, President Steven Leath announced that VEISHEA would no longer be an annual event at Iowa State and the name VEISHEA would be retired.

    Ames Laboratory

    Iowa State is the only university nationwide that has a U.S. Department of Energy research laboratory physically located on its campus. Operated by ISU, the Ames Laboratory is one of ten national DOE Office of Science research laboratories.

    ISU research for the government provided Ames Laboratory its start in the 1940s with the development of a highly efficient process for producing high-purity uranium for atomic energy. Today, Ames Laboratory continues its leading status in current materials research and focuses diverse fundamental and applied research strengths upon issues of national concern, cultivates research talent, and develops and transfers technologies to improve industrial competitiveness and enhance U.S. economic security. Ames Laboratory employs more than 430 full- and part-time employees, including more than 250 scientists and engineers. Students make up more than 20 percent of the paid workforce.

    The Ames Laboratory is the U.S. home to 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry winner Dan Shechtman and is intensely engaged with the international scientific community, including hosting a large number of international visitors each year.

    ISU Research Park

    The ISU Research Park is a 230-acre development with over 270,000 square feet of building space located just south of the Iowa State campus in Ames. Though closely connected with the university, the research park operates independently to help tenants reach their proprietary goals, linking technology creation, business formation, and development assistance with established technology firms and the marketplace.

    The ISU Research Park Corporation was established in 1987 as a not-for-profit, independent, corporation operating under a board of directors appointed by Iowa State University and the ISU Foundation. The corporation manages both the Research Park and incubator programs.

    Other research institutes

    Iowa State is involved in a number of other significant research and creative endeavors, multidisciplinary collaboration, technology transfer, and strategies addressing real-world problems.

    In 2010, the Biorenewables Research Laboratory opened in a LEED-Gold certified building that complements and helps replace labs and offices across Iowa State and promotes interdisciplinary, systems-level research and collaboration. The Lab houses the Bioeconomy Institute, the Biobased Industry Center, and the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals, a partnership of six universities as well as the Max Planck Society in Germany and the Technical University of Denmark.

    The Engineering Teaching and Research Complex is home to one of the world’s only six-sided virtual reality labs (C6) which supports the research of more than 50 faculty and 200 graduate, undergraduate, and postdoctoral students.


    Iowa State's campus contains over 160 buildings. Several buildings, as well as the Marston Water Tower, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The central campus includes 490 acres (2.0 km2) of trees, plants, and classically designed buildings. The landscape's most dominant feature is the 20-acre (81,000 m2) central lawn, which was listed as a "medallion site" by the American Society of Landscape Architects in 1999, one of only three central campuses designated as such. The other two were Harvard University and the University of Virginia.

    Thomas Gaines, in The Campus As a Work of Art, proclaimed the Iowa State campus to be one of the twenty-five most beautiful campuses in the country. Gaines noted Iowa State's park-like expanse of central campus, and the use of trees and shrubbery to draw together ISU's varied building architecture. Over decades, campus buildings, including the Campanile, Beardshear Hall, and Curtiss Hall, circled and preserved the central lawn, creating a space where students study, relax, and socialize.


    The campanile was constructed during 1897-1898 as a memorial to Margaret MacDonald Stanton, Iowa State's first dean of women, who died on July 25, 1895. The tower is located on ISU's central campus, just north of the Memorial Union. The site was selected by Margaret's husband, Edgar W. Stanton, with the help of then-university president William M. Beardshear. The campanile stands 110 feet (34 m) tall on a 16 by 16 foot (5 by 5 m) base, and cost $6,510.20 to construct.

    The campanile is widely seen as one of the major symbols of Iowa State University. It is featured prominently on the university's official ring and the university's mace, and is also the subject of the university's alma mater, The Bells of Iowa State.

    Lake LaVerne

    Named for Dr. LaVerne W. Noyes, who also donated the funds to see that Alumni Hall could be completed after sitting unfinished and unused from 1905 to 1907. Dr. Noyes is an 1872 alumnus. Lake LaVerne is located west of the Memorial Union and south of Alumni Hall, Carver Hall, and Music Hall. The lake was a gift from Dr. Noyes in 1916.

    Lake LaVerne is the home of two mute swans named Sir Lancelot and Elaine, donated to Iowa State by VEISHEA 1935. In 1944, 1970, and 1971 cygnets (baby swans) made their home on Lake LaVerne. Previously Sir Lancelot and Elaine were trumpeter swans but were too aggressive and in 1999 were replaced with two mute swans.

    In early spring 2003, Lake LaVerne welcomed its newest and most current mute swan duo. In support of Iowa Department of Natural Resources efforts to re-establish the trumpeter swans in Iowa, university officials avoided bringing breeding pairs of male and female mute swans to Iowa State which means the current Sir Lancelot and Elaine are both female.

    Reiman Gardens

    Iowa State has maintained a horticulture garden since 1914. Reiman Gardens is the third location for these gardens. Today's gardens began in 1993 with a gift from Bobbi and Roy Reiman. Construction began in 1994 and the Gardens' initial 5 acres (20,000 m2) were officially dedicated on September 16, 1995.

    Reiman Gardens has since grown to become a 14 acres (57,000 m2) site consisting of a dozen distinct garden areas, an indoor conservatory and an indoor butterfly "wing", butterfly emergence cases, a gift shop, and several supporting greenhouses. Located immediately south of Jack Trice Stadium on the ISU campus, Reiman Gardens is a year-round facility that has become one of the most visited attractions in central Iowa.

    The Gardens has received a number of national, state, and local awards since its opening, and its rose gardens are particularly noteworthy. It was honored with the President's Award in 2000 by All American Rose Selections, Inc., which is presented to one public garden in the United States each year for superior rose maintenance and display: “For contributing to the public interest in rose growing through its efforts in maintaining an outstanding public rose garden.”

    University Museums

    The University Museums consist of the Brunnier Art Museum, Farm House Museum, the Art on Campus Program, the Christian Petersen Art Museum, and the Elizabeth and Byron Anderson Sculpture Garden. The Museums include a multitude of unique exhibits, each promoting the understanding and delight of the visual arts as well as attempt to incorporate a vast interaction between the arts, sciences, and technology.

    Brunnier Art Museum

    The Brunnier Art Museum, Iowa’s only accredited museum emphasizing a decorative arts collection, is one of the nation's few museums located within a performing arts and conference complex, the Iowa State Center. Founded in 1975, the museum is named after its benefactors, Iowa State alumnus Henry J. Brunnier and his wife Ann. The decorative arts collection they donated, called the Brunnier Collection, is extensive, consisting of ceramics, glass, dolls, ivory, jade, and enameled metals.

    Other fine and decorative art objects from the University Art Collection include prints, paintings, sculptures, textiles, carpets, wood objects, lacquered pieces, silver, and furniture. About eight to 12 annual changing exhibitions and permanent collection exhibitions provide educational opportunities for all ages, from learning the history of a quilt hand-stitched over 100 years ago to discovering how scientists analyze the physical properties of artists' materials, such as glass or stone. Lectures, receptions, conferences, university classes, panel discussions, gallery walks, and gallery talks are presented to assist with further interpretation of objects.

    Farm House Museum

    Located near the center of the Iowa State campus, the Farm House Museum sits as a monument to early Iowa State history and culture as well as a National Historic Landmark. As the first building on campus, the Farm House was built in 1860 before campus was occupied by students or even classrooms. The college’s first farm tenants primed the land for agricultural experimentation. This early practice lead to Iowa State Agricultural College and Model Farm opening its doors to Iowa students for free in 1869 under the Morrill Act (or Land-grant Act) of 1862.

    Many prominent figures have made the Farm House their home throughout its 150 years of use. The first president of the College, Adonijah Welch, briefly stayed at the Farm House and even wrote his inaugural speech in a bedroom on the second floor. James “Tama Jim” Wilson resided for much of the 1890s with his family at the Farm House until he joined President William McKinley’s cabinet as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Agriculture Dean Charles Curtiss and his young family replaced Wilson and became the longest resident of Farm House.

    In 1976, over 110 years after the initial construction, the Farm House became a museum after much time and effort was put into restoring the early beauty of the modest farm home. Today, faculty, students, and community members can enjoy the museum while honoring its significance in shaping a nationally recognized land-grant university. Its collection boasts a large collection of 19th and early 20th century decorative arts, furnishings and material culture reflecting Iowa State and Iowa heritage. Objects include furnishings from Carrie Chapman Catt and Charles Curtiss, a wide variety of quilts, a modest collection of textiles and apparel, and various china and glassware items.

    As with many sites on the Iowa State University Campus, The Farm House Museum has a few old myths and legends associated with it. There are rumors of a ghost changing silverware and dinnerware, unexplained rattling furniture, and curtains that have opened seemingly by themselves.

    The Farm House Museum is a unique on-campus educational resource providing a changing environment of exhibitions among the historical permanent collection objects that are on display. A walk through the Farm House Museum immerses visitors in the Victorian era (1860-1910) as well as exhibits colorful Iowa and local Ames history.

    Art on Campus Collection

    Iowa State is home to one of the largest campus public art programs in the United States. Over 2,000 works of public art, including 600 by significant national and international artists, are located across campus in buildings, courtyards, open spaces and offices.

    The traditional public art program began during the Depression in the 1930s when Iowa State College’s President Raymond Hughes envisioned that "the arts would enrich and provide substantial intellectual exploration into our college curricula." Hughes invited Grant Wood to create the Library’s agricultural murals that speak to the founding of Iowa and Iowa State College and Model Farm. He also offered Christian Petersen a one-semester sculptor residency to design and build the fountain and bas relief at the Dairy Industry Building. In 1955, 21 years later, Petersen retired having created 12 major sculptures for the campus and hundreds of small studio sculptures.

    The Art on Campus Collection is a campus-wide resource of over 2000 public works of art. Programs, receptions, dedications, university classes, Wednesday Walks, and educational tours are presented on a regular basis to enhance visual literacy and aesthetic appreciation of this diverse collection.

    Christian Petersen Art Museum

    The Christian Petersen Art Museum in Morrill Hall is named for the nation’s first permanent campus artist-in-residence, Christian Petersen, who sculpted and taught at Iowa State from 1934 through 1955, and is considered the founding artist of the Art on Campus Collection.

    Named for Justin Smith Morrill who created the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act, Morrill Hall was completed in 1891. Originally constructed to fill the capacity of a library, museum, and chapel, its original uses are engraved in the exterior stonework on the east side. The building was vacated in 1996 when it was determined unsafe and was also listed in the National Register of Historic Places the same year. In 2005, $9 million was raised to renovate the building and convert it into a museum. Completed and reopened in March 2007, Morrill Hall is home to the Christian Petersen Art Museum.

    As part of University Museums, the Christian Petersen Art Museum at Morrill Hall is the home of the Christian Petersen Art Collection, the Art on Campus Program, the University Museums’s Visual Literacy and Learning Program, and Contemporary Changing Art Exhibitions Program.

    Located within the Christian Petersen Art Museum are the Lyle and Nancy Campbell Art Gallery, the Roy and Bobbi Reiman Public Art Studio Gallery, the Margaret Davidson Center for the Study of the Art on Campus Collection, the Edith D. and Torsten E. Lagerstrom Loaned Collections Center, and the Neva M. Petersen Visual Learning Gallery. University Museums shares the James R. and Barbara R. Palmer Small Objects Classroom in Morrill Hall.

    Anderson Sculpture Garden

    The Elizabeth and Byron Anderson Sculpture Garden is located by the Christian Petersen Art Museum at historic Morrill Hall. The sculpture garden design incorporates sculptures, a gathering arena, and sidewalks and pathways. Planted with perennials, ground cover, shrubs, and flowering trees, the landscape design provides a distinctive setting for important works of 20th and 21st century sculpture, primarily American. Ranging from forty-four inches to nearly nine feet high and from bronze to other metals, these works of art represent the richly diverse character of modern and contemporary sculpture.

    The sculpture garden is adjacent to Iowa State’s 22 acres (89,000 m2) central campus. Adonijah Welch, ISU’s first president, envisioned a picturesque campus with a winding road encircling the college’s majestic buildings, vast lawns of green grass, many varieties of trees sprinkled throughout to provide shade, and shrubbery and flowers for fragrance. Today, the central lawn continues to be an iconic place for all Iowa Staters, and enjoys national acclaim as one of the most beautiful campuses in the country. The new Elizabeth and Byron Anderson Sculpture Garden further enhances the beauty of Iowa State.


    Iowa State's composting facility "can handle more than 10,000 tons of organic wastes annually." The school's new $3 million revolving loan fund loans money for energy efficiency and conservation projects on campus. In the 2011 College Sustainability Report Card issued by the Sustainable Endowments Institute, the university received a B grade.

    Residence halls

    Iowa State operates 19 on-campus residence halls. The residence halls are divided into geographical areas.

    The Union Drive Association (UDA) consists of four residence halls located on the west side of campus, including Friley Hall, which has been declared one of the largest residence halls in the country.

    The Richardson Court Association (RCA) consists of 12 residence halls on the east side of campus.

    The Towers Residence Association (TRA) are located south of the main campus. Two of the four towers, Knapp and Storms Halls, were imploded in 2005; however, Wallace and Wilson Halls still stand.

    Buchanan Hall is an upper-division hall housing graduate students that is nominally considered part of the RCA, despite its distance from the other buildings.

    ISU operates four apartment complexes for upperclassmen, Frederiksen Court, SUV Apartments, Legacy Tower, and Maricopa, the latter two being leased by the university.

    Student government

    The governing body for ISU students is the Government of Student Body or GSB. The GSB is composed of a president, vice president, finance director, cabinet appointed by the president, a clerk appointed by the vice president, senators representing each college and residence area at the university, a nine-member judicial branch and an election commission.

    Student organizations

    ISU has over 800 student organizations on campus that represent a variety of interests. Organizations are supported by Iowa State's Student Activities Center. Many student organization offices are housed in the Memorial Union.

    The Memorial Union at Iowa State University opened in September 1928 and is currently home to a number of University departments and student organizations, a bowling alley, the University Book Store, and the Hotel Memorial Union.

    The original building was designed by architect, William T. Proudfoot. The building employs a classical style of architecture reflecting Greek and Roman influences. The building's design specifically complements the designs of the major buildings surrounding the University's Central Campus area, Beardshear Hall to the west, Curtiss Hall to the east, and MacKay Hall to the north. The style utilizes columns with Corinthian capitals, Paladian windows, triangular pediments, and formally balanced facades.

    Designed to be a living memorial for ISU students lost in World War I, the building includes a solemn memorial hall, named the Gold Star Room, which honors the names of the dead World War I, World War II, Korean, Vietnam, and War on Terrorism veterans engraved in marble. Symbolically, the hall was built directly over a library (the Browsing Library) and a small chapel, the symbol being that no country would ever send its young men to die in a war for a noble cause without a solid foundation on both education (the library) and religion (the chapel).

    Renovations and additions have continued through the years to include: elevators, bowling lanes, a parking ramp, a book store, food court, and additional wings.

    Greek community

    ISU is home to an active Greek community. There are 50 chapters that involve 14.6 percent of undergraduate students. Collectively, fraternity and sorority members have raised over $82,000 for philanthropies and committed 31,416 hours to community service. In 2006, the ISU Greek community was named the best large Greek community in the Midwest.

    The ISU Greek Community has received multiple Jellison and Sutherland Awards from Association for Fraternal Leadership and Values, formerly the Mid-American Greek Council Association. These awards recognize the top Greek Communities in the Midwest.

    The first fraternity, Delta Tau Delta, was established at Iowa State in 1875, six years after the first graduating class entered Iowa State. The first sorority, I.C. Sorocis, was established only two years later, in 1877. I.C. Sorocis later became a chapter of the first national sorority at Iowa State, Pi Beta Phi. Anti-Greek rioting occurred in 1888. As reported in The Des Moines Register, "The anti-secret society men of the college met in a mob last night about 11 o'clock in front of the society rooms in chemical and physical hall, determined to break up a joint meeting of three secret societies." In 1891, President William Beardshear banned students from joining secret college fraternities, resulting in the eventual closing of all formerly established fraternities. President Storms lifted the ban in 1904.

    Following the lifting of the fraternity ban, the first thirteen national fraternities (IFC) installed on the Iowa State campus between 1904 and 1913 were, in order, Sigma Nu, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Beta Theta Pi, Phi Gamma Delta, Alpha Tau Omega, Kappa Sigma, Theta Xi, Acacia, Phi Sigma Kappa, Delta Tau Delta, Pi Kappa Alpha, and Phi Delta Theta. Though some have suspended their chapters at various times, eleven of the original thirteen fraternities were active in 2008. Many of these chapters existed on campus as local fraternities before being reorganized as national fraternities, prior to 1904.

    In the Spring of 2014, it was announced that Alpha Phi Sorority would be coming to Iowa state in the Fall of 2014, with Delta Gamma Sorority Following in the near future.

    School newspaper

    The Iowa State Daily is the university's student newspaper. The Daily has its roots from a news sheet titled the Clipper, which was started in the spring of 1890 by a group of students at Iowa Agricultural College led by F.E. Davidson. The Clipper soon led to the creation of the Iowa Agricultural College Student, and the beginnings of what would one day become the Iowa State Daily. It was awarded the 2016 Best All-Around Daily Student Newspaper by the Society of Professional Journalists.

    Campus radio

    88.5 KURE is the university's student-run radio station. Programming for KURE includes ISU sports coverage, talk shows, the annual quiz contest Kaleidoquiz, and various music genres.

    Student television

    ISUtv is the university's student-run television station. It is housed in the former WOI-TV station that was established in 1950. The student organization of ISUtv has many programs including Newswatch, a twice weekly news spot, Cyclone InCyders, the campus sports show, Fortnightly News, a satirical/comedy program, and Cy's Eyes on the Skies, a twice weekly weather show.


    The "Cyclones" name dates back to 1895. That year, Iowa suffered an unusually high number of devastating cyclones (as tornadoes were called at the time). In September, Iowa Agricultural College's football team traveled to Northwestern University and defeated that team by a score of 36-0. The next day, the Chicago Tribune's headline read "Struck by a Cyclone: It Comes from Iowa and Devastates Evanston Town." The article began, "Northwestern might as well have tried to play football with an Iowa cyclone as with the Iowa team it met yesterday." The nickname stuck.

    The school colors are cardinal and gold. The mascot is Cy the Cardinal, introduced in 1954. Since a cyclone was determined to be difficult to depict in costume, the cardinal was chosen in reference to the school colors. A contest was held to select a name for the mascot, with the name Cy being chosen as the winner.

    The Iowa State Cyclones are a member of the Big 12 Conference and compete in NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), fielding 16 varsity teams in 12 sports. The Cyclones also compete in and are a founding member of the Central States Collegiate Hockey League of the American Collegiate Hockey Association.

    Iowa State's intrastate archrival is the University of Iowa with whom it competes annually for the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series trophy, an annual athletic competition between the two schools. Sponsored by the Iowa Corn Growers Association, the competition includes all head-to-head regular season competitions between the two rival universities in all sports.


    Football first made its way onto the Iowa State campus in 1878 as a recreational sport, but it was not until 1892 that Iowa State organized its first team to represent the school in football. In 1894, college president William M. Beardshear spearheaded the foundation of an athletic association to officially sanction Iowa State football teams. The 1894 team finished with a 6-1 mark. The Cyclones compete each year for traveling trophies. Since 1977, Iowa State and Iowa compete annually for the Cy-Hawk Trophy. Iowa State competes in an annual rivalry game against Kansas State known as Farmageddon and against former conference foe Missouri for the Telephone Trophy.

    The Cyclones play their home games at Jack Trice Stadium, named after Jack Trice, ISU's first African-American athlete and also the first and only Iowa State athlete to die from injuries sustained during athletic competition. Trice died three days after his first game playing for Iowa State against Minnesota in Minneapolis on October 6, 1923. Suffering from a broken collarbone early in the game, he continued to play until he was trampled by a group of Minnesota players. It is disputed whether he was trampled purposely or if it was by accident. The stadium was named in his honor in 1997 and is the only NCAA Division I-A stadium named after an African-American. Jack Trice Stadium, formerly known as Cyclone Stadium, opened on September 20, 1975, with a win against the Air Force Academy.

    Men's basketball

    Hopes of "Hilton Magic" returning took a boost with the hiring of ISU alum, Ames native, and fan favorite Fred Hoiberg as coach of the men's basketball team in April 2010. Hoiberg ("The Mayor") played three seasons under legendary coach Johnny Orr and one season under future Chicago Bulls coach Tim Floyd during his standout collegiate career as a Cyclone (1991–95). Orr laid the foundation of success in men's basketball upon his arrival from Michigan in 1980 and is credited with building Hilton Magic. Besides Hoiberg, other Cyclone greats played for Orr and brought winning seasons, including Jeff Grayer, Barry Stevens, and walk-on Jeff Hornacek. The 1985-86 Cyclones were one of the most memorable. Orr coached the team to second place in the Big Eight and produced one of his greatest career wins, a victory over his former team and No. 2 seed Michigan in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

    Under coaches Floyd (1995–98) and Larry Eustachy (1998–2003), Iowa State achieved even greater success. Floyd took the Cyclones to the Sweet Sixteen in 1997 and Eustachy led ISU to two consecutive Big 12 regular season conference titles in 1999-2000 and 2000–01, plus the conference tournament title in 2000. Seeded No. 2 in the 2000 NCAA tournament, Eustachy and the Cyclones defeated UCLA in the Sweet Sixteen before falling to Michigan State, the eventual NCAA Champion, in the regional finals by a score of 75-64 (the differential representing the Spartans' narrowest margin of victory in the tournament). Standout Marcus Fizer and Jamaal Tinsley were scoring leaders for the Cyclones who finished the season 32-5. Tinsley returned to lead the Cyclones the following year with another conference title and No. 2 seed, but ISU finished the season with a 25-6 overall record after a stunning loss to No. 15 seed Hampton in the first round.

    In 2011-12, Hoiberg's Cyclones finished third in the Big 12 and returned to the NCAA Tournament, dethroning defending national champion Connecticut, 77-64, in the second round before losing in the Round of 32 to top-seeded Kentucky. All-Big 12 First Team selection Royce White led the Cyclones with 38 points and 22 rebounds in the two contests, ending the season at 23-11.

    The 2013-14 campaign turned out to be another highly successful season. Iowa State went 28-8, won the Big 12 Tournament, and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen by beating North Carolina in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Cyclones finished 11-7 in Big 12 play, finishing in a tie for third in the league standings, and beat a school-record nine teams (9-3) that were ranked in the Associated Press top 25. The Cyclones opened the season 14-0, breaking the school record for consecutive wins. Melvin Ejim was named the Big 12 Player of the Year and an All-American by five organizations. Deandre Kane was named the Big 12 Tournament’s most valuable player.

    Of Iowa State's 16 NCAA Tournament appearances, the Cyclones have reached the Sweet Sixteen six times (1944, 1986, 1997, 2000, 2014, 2016), made two appearances in the Elite Eight (1944, 2000), and reached the Final Four once in 1944.

    Women's basketball

    Iowa State is known for having one of the most successful women's basketball programs in the nation. Since the founding of the Big 12, Coach Bill Fennelly and the Cyclones have won three conference titles (one regular season, two tournament), and have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen five times (1999–2001, 2009, 2010) and the Elite Eight twice (1999, 2009) in the NCAA Tournament. The team has one of the largest fan bases in the nation with attendance figures ranked third in the nation in 2009, 2010, and 2012.


    Coach Christy Johnson-Lynch led the 2012 Cyclones team to a fifth straight 20-win season and fifth NCAA regional semifinal appearance in six seasons, and leading Iowa State to a 22-8 (13-3 Big 12) overall record and second-place finish in the conference. The Cyclones finished the season with seven wins over top-25 teams, including a victory over No. 1 Nebraska Cornhuskers in Iowa State’s first-ever win over a top-ranked opponent in addition to providing the only Big 12 Conference loss to the 2012 conference and NCAA champion Texas Longhorns.

    In 2011, Iowa State finished the season 25-6 (13-3 Big 12), placing second in the league, as well as a final national ranking of eighth. 2011 is only the second season in which an Iowa State volleyball team has ever recorded 25 wins. The Cyclones beat No. 9 Florida during the season in Gainesville, its sixth win over a top-10 team in Cyclone history. In 2009, Iowa State finished the season second in the Big 12 behind Texas with a 27-5 record and ranked No. 6, its highest ever national finish.

    Johnson-Lynch is the fastest Iowa State coach to clinch 100 victories. In 2011, she became the school’s winningest volleyball coach when her team defeated the Texas Tech Red Raiders, her 136th coaching victory, in straight sets.


    The ISU wrestling program has captured the NCAA wrestling tournament title eight times between 1928 and 1987, and won the Big 12 Conference Tournament three consecutive years, 2007-2009. On February 7, 2010, the Cyclones became the first collegiate wrestling program to record its 1,000th dual win in program history by defeating the Arizona State Sun Devils, 30-10, in Tempe, Arizona.

    In 2002, under former NCAA champion & Olympian Coach Bobby Douglas, Iowa State became the first school to produce a four-time, undefeated NCAA Division I champion, Cael Sanderson (considered by the majority of the wrestling community to be the best college wrestler ever), who also took the gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. Dan Gable, another legendary ISU wrestler, is famous for having lost only one match in his entire Iowa State collegiate career - his last, and winning gold at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany, while not giving up a single point.

    In 2013, Iowa State hosted its eighth NCAA Wrestling Championships. The Cyclones hosted the first NCAA championships in 1928.

    The current head coach is former Olympic gold medalist and two-time World Champion Kevin Jackson, in his fifth season as Iowa State’s head wrestling coach.

    Notable alumni and faculty

    Since its inception in 1858, Iowa State has fostered excellence in its alumni, under the instruction of world-class faculty. These people include astronauts, scientists, Pulitzer Prize winners, statesmen, academicians, CEOs, entrepreneurs, athletes, film and television actors, and a host of other notable individuals in their respective fields.


    Iowa State University Wikipedia

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