ISU Alumni Association History
The Iowa State University Alumni Association was founded Nov. 12, 1878, with Edgar W. Stanton (class of 1872) as its first president. Stanton served as president until 1893. The Association has functioned continuously since that time. Under the leadership of Ward R. Jones (class of 1897), serving as president from 1893 to 1920, the Association began publication of the periodical Iowa State Alumnus in 1905, which continued publication for 69 years. In 1914, the Association employed a professional staff and established an office in Alumni Hall. Harold D. Pride (class of 1897) became Association president in 1921 and served until 1932. The Association's office was moved to the Memorial Union in 1928.
In 1932, the Alumni Association, under the leadership of Wallace E. Barron (class of 1928), incorporated as an independent 501(c)(3), self-governing association to facilitate patent trustees to supervise the patenting and licensing of Iowa State research discoveries. Barron served in this role until 1968. To protect the Alumni Association from legal entanglements, all patent and license interests were transferred in 1938 to the Iowa State Research Foundation. By World War II, gifts to Iowa State through the Alumni Association totaled $100,000. From 1951 to 1980, alumni gifts were solicited annually by the affiliate organization, the Alumni Achievement Fund, to finance a wide variety of projects and activities that would not be supported by state appropriations alone. During this time, the Association also changed its leadership three times, with Robert L. Crom (class of 1950) serving from 1968 to 1971, Don F. Gustofson (class of 1955) serving from 1971 to 1979, and James A. Hopson (class of 1969) serving from 1979 to 1999.
As the Alumni Association moved into the 1980s, the emphasis on service increased. Ongoing fund-raising activities for Iowa State University were assumed by the newly incorporated Iowa State University Achievement Foundation, now known as the Iowa State University Foundation. The number of alumni had doubled during the decade of the ’70s, and services to the group expanded rapidly during the ’80s. Memberships in the organization soared, allowing new programs and services to be developed, including VISIONS, a full-color quarterly magazine.
Programs and services for alumni in the 1990s were enhanced by an emphasis on research and planning. Since 1990, the Board of Directors has commissioned market research, conducted self-studies and external reviews, and developed three strategic plans designed to focus resources on increasing memberships, visibility, and services to alumni and the university.
The recommendations from the 1996 self-study and external review and the 1997-2000 Strategic Plan guided the budget and programming decisions for the Alumni Association to better serve Iowa State and its present and future alumni and friends. In 1999 Jeffery W. Johnson was hired as the eighth individual to lead the Association.
In 1999, the Board of Directors created The Circle, a society of former board presidents/chairs and executive directors of the Association.
The Association’s 2001-2006 Strategic Plan focused on strengthening membership, engaging constituents, developing strategic alliances, and enhancing the health of the organization.
In 2003 the board voted to begin plans for building a permanent home and planned for the celebration of the 125th anniversary of the Alumni Association. A proposal for an alumni center was approved by the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, in FY04. Due to the impending renovation of the Memorial Union, the Alumni Association took up temporary residence in Fisher-Nickell Hall.
The Alumni Association celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2003-04 and reached its goal of topping 50,000 members by the end of 2005, making it the second-largest dues-paying member organization in the Big 12 Conference.
A new strategic plan for 2006-2009 was adopted in May 2006, with an emphasis on connecting alumni and friends to ISU and each other, engaging students for a lifetime connection to Iowa State, and positioning the ISUAA to advance Iowa State University.
With the generous financial support from more than 400 donors, especially lead donors Roy and Bobbi Reiman, construction of the new Alumni Center on Beach Avenue at the Iowa State Center began in August 2006. HLKB architectural firm of Des Moines designed the facility, ISU’s Office of Facility Planning and Management (FP&M) served as project and construction managers, and Woodruff Construction was selected as the facility contractor. The 34,500-square-foot facility was dedicated during homecoming on Oct. 25, 2008.
In 2007, the Board of Directors approved the creation of the Young Alumni Council, an organization charged with enhancing service to and engagement of ISU alumni 10 years out of Iowa State.
In 2008, the Association’s Board of Directors signed and implemented an official memorandum of understanding with the university further clarifying the relationship between the university and the Association. As part of this understanding, the Association’s president and CEO became the sole employee of the Association. Ongoing evaluation, as well as future hiring of the Association’s president and CEO, will be the responsibility of the Association’s board with input from the president of the university.
2009 and 2010, the Association’s Board of Directors completed work on a Memorandum of Understanding between the ISU Alumni Association and the ISU Foundation and focused on financial issues due to the global impact of the recession. Staffing structure was also looked into by the board. Working with FP&M, the Association engaged the services of Country Landscapes of Ames in 2010 to begin final landscaping work of the Alumni Center grounds. Also in 2010, the Board of Directors created the Leadership Guild, a society charged with re-engaging former board members with the Association.