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Iowa History Daily: August 5 - The Father of Iowa State University

Iowa History Daily: On August 5, 1902, “The Father of Iowa State University,” William Beardshear died. An early and significant President of Iowa State University (then Iowa Agricultural College), Beardshear also served as school superintendent in West Des Moines and worked as a pastor.

Born on an Ohio farm, Beardshear grew up fast and signed up to serve in the Fourth Army Corps in the Army of the Cumberland as a 14-year old. After finishing his service at the conclusion of the war, he eventually went on to attend Otterbein College where he earned his degree.

Serving as a pastor for the United Brethren before heading to Yale to complete his education. Soon after Beardshear headed west to Iowa to work as President at Western College in Toledo, Iowa. Following an eight year stint in Tama County, Beardshear headed to West Des Moines to guide the young school district before becoming President of Iowa State University on February 25, 1891.

Beardshear’s legacy includes fostering the start of athletic programs, increasing faculty 25 to 78 while enrollment quadrupled during his 11-year tenure. The Cyclones nickname also came about in 1895 during Beardshear’s time as President. In 1938 the central building on campus was named Beardshear Hall to honor “The Father of Iowa State.” #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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