Dr. and Mrs. Parks Portrait

Portrait painted in 1999/2000 by Kurt Anderson

Dr. Parks standing, Mrs. Parks sitting

Dr. W. Robert Parks, Iowa State University's eleventh and longest serving president (1965-1986), was the first social scientist to head the university. On assuming his presidency, he articulated a "new humanism," and he expanded the role of the humanities and social sciences within the university. Under Dr. Parks' visionary leadership, Iowa State experienced record growth in student enrollment, academic programs, library collection and physical facilities.

His wife, Dr. Ellen Sorge Parks, was the first woman at the University of Wisconsin to receive a Ph.D. in political science. Throughout her lifetime she continued her scholarly interests in political science and British history. An avid user of the Iowa State University Library, she once described the library as "the essence of the university."

Their mutual support for the university library and respect for its role in learning and research led in 1984 to the central library building being named the William Robert Parks and Ellen Sorge Parks Library.

"The steadfast support of Dr. W. Robert Parks and Ellen Sorge Parks to the Iowa State University Library has continued long beyond the end of their official university duties. This portrait of them honors their unwavering dedication." Olivia M.A. Madison, Dean of Library Services, April 2000