W. Robert Parks
(1915-2003; president 1965-86)
Portrait painted in 1984 by artist Peter Egeli
The first social scientist to become president of Iowa State, Parks was the youngest of seven children in a Mulberry, Tenn., farm family. He earned his B.A. in political science at Berea College in 1937, his M.A. at the University of Kentucky in 1938, his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin in 1948. He was a research director in the United States Bureau of Agricultural Economics, 1940-48, excepting 30 months of World War II navy duty. He taught and directed research in government and agriculture as professor of government at Iowa State, 1948-56, was professor of agricultural economics at the University of Wisconsin, 1956-58, then returned to Iowa State as dean of instruction. He was named vice-president for academic affairs in 1961 and served in that capacity until taking office as president July 1, 1965.