William M. Beardshear
(1850-1902; president 1891-1902)
Portrait painted in 1938 by artist Christian Abrahamsen
Ohio-born, Beardshear served in the Union army throughout the Civil War, studied for the ministry at Otterbein College and Yale University, filled several pastorates before coming to Iowa in 1881 as president of Western College at Toledo, and was West Des Moines superintendent of schools when an alliance of farm organizations secured his appointment as president of Iowa State. Most storied of Iowa State presidents, Beardshear was a physically impressive man who combined hard common sense with sentimentality and a robust sense of humor. Many of his goals were still unattained when he suffered a fatal heart attack; but during his administration Iowa State "came of age."