Iowa State University Alumni Association

Ruth Harpole and Jan Jessen 2016

Ruth Harpole
Oak Park Heights, Minn.

Janice Jessen
Mendota Heights, Minn.

The name Harpole is one of the most recognized in the Iowa State University family, as the connection dates back to 1918. But two of the family’s most engaged and important members are not graduates of the institution: Ruth Harpole and her daughter, Janice “Jan” Harpole Jessen.

When Harpole, a graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo, married her late husband, Murray, class of 1943, she also married his beloved alma mater. For seven decades, Harpole has immersed herself in the university’s culture and mission, and three of her four children went on to earn degrees from Iowa State: Kenneth, class of 1973, Kathryn, class of 1974, and David, class of 1977. David’s wife, Kay, also graduated from Iowa State in 1976.

Her fourth child, Jan Jessen, attended Iowa State University for three years before ultimately graduating from the University of Minnesota in 1981. Yet Jessen’s passion for Iowa State remains a constant force in her life. Her daughter, Lauren Walke, and her son-in-law, Nicholas, both graduated from Iowa State in 2012.

Harpole and Jessen are true Cyclones – even if their diplomas list other institutions – and they played critical roles in the Harpole family gift that kick-started the current renovation of Marston Hall. Other gifts from the Harpole family have supported numerous funds throughout the electrical and computer engineering department.

Harpole received the Order of the Knoll Campanile Award in 2005, and Jessen is actively involved with the Rho Chapter of Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority at Iowa State. While attending the university, Jessen was a member of the sorority as well as a member of the Cyclone tennis team and the Student Alumni Association.

Jessen is a life member of the Iowa State University Alumni Association and the Order of the Knoll President’s Circle. She and her husband, David, live in Mendota Heights, Minnesota. Harpole is also a life member of the alumni association and the Order of the Knoll William M. Beardshear Society. She lives in Oak Park Heights, Minnesota.


© 2017 Iowa State University Alumni Association. All rights reserved.