There was a celebration at the statehouse today to mark the 150th anniversary of Iowa State University. In 1858, the Iowa Legislature adopted the charter that established the Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm, which grew into what’s now known as I.S.U.
State Representative Beth Wessel-Kroeschell of Ames says the institution started as a groundbreaker. "Iowa State University was the first land-grant institution to be co-educational from its opening, with 16 women in its first class," Wessel-Kroschell says.
Carrie Chapman Catt graduated from the school in 1880 and went on to help lead the movement to win women the right to vote. Henry A. Wallace, the former U.S. vice president and founder of Pioneer Hi-Bred, graduated from Iowa State in 1910. George Washington Carver got two degrees from Iowa State, but went to Tuskegee University where he "inventing" peanut butter.
State Senator Herman Quirmbach, an I.S.U. professor, says the school could be so much more had it patented on the invention I.S.U. professor John Atanasoff and grad student Clifford Berry started developing in 1939. "We have to admit something here. Iowa State screwed up. We didn’t patent the computer," Quirmbach says. "Had we patented the computer, the college would be funding the state instead of the other way around."
There were 26 in the first class to graduate from Iowa State. Today, about 26,000 students are enrolled at I.S.U.