J. Elaine Hieber has long been committed to gender equity and the fair treatment of all. As a result of the passage of Title IX of the Educational Amendment Acts of 1972, Hieber was appointed in 1974 as the first female assistant athletics director at Miami University. She oversaw 12 sports, coaching six of them herself, all on a budget of $17,000. In recognition of her groundbreaking work, she was inducted in the Miami University Hall of Fame and the Miami Cradle of Coaches.
In 1979, Iowa State University recruited Hieber to help merge its men’s and women’s athletics programs. As the lone female administrator in the department, she faced numerous challenges, but Hieber remained staunchly committed to advocating fair, respectful, and equal treatment for all. Today, Iowa State’s successful women’s athletics programs are a true testament to Hieber’s strength and leadership. For her many contributions to ISU athletics, she was inducted into the ISU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008.
During her 35-year career with the athletics department, Hieber represented Iowa State on the Division I Basketball Committee and NCAA Marketing Committee, as well as chaired the NCAA Basketball Rules Committee. Within the university community, she served on the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center Advisory Council, the University Diversity Project Steering Committee, and as chair of both the Professional and Scientific Council and the University Committee on Women. She received Iowa State University’s Professional and Scientific Excellence Award in 1989, the Carrie Chapman Catt Gender Equity Award in 1990, and the ISU Presidential Service Award in 2001.
Thirty years ago, Hieber began volunteering to help create athletic opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities. She was instrumental in bringing the Special Olympics Iowa Summer Games to Ames, where it has remained since. Hieber has served as director and board chair of the Iowa Special Olympics and also was the chair of the first-ever Special Olympics USA National Games that were held in Ames in 2006.
Among the many other honors and awards Hieber has received are the National Association of College Women Administrators’ Administrator of the Year and Lifetime Recognition awards, the Special Olympics’ Ed Lehrner Award for Outstanding Service, the Iowa Governor’s Volunteer Award, and the Ames Tribune Unsung Hero Award. She was named Volunteer of the Year by Special Olympics Iowa in 1988.
Hieber co-chaired the Healthiest Ames initiative from 2011-14 and currently serves on the Iowa State University Athletics Hall of Fame selection committee. She is a member of Order of the Knoll President’s Circle and the Clyde Williams Society; she is an ISU Alumni Association annual member.
The Iowa State University Alumni Association is an independent 501(c)3, self-governing organization charged with the mission of engaging the talents and resources of alumni, students, and friends in the life, work, and aspiration of Iowa State University. Our vision is to become the lifetime partner in engaging all alumni, students, and friends with Iowa State University.