List of Presidents of Iowa State University - Presidents of Iowa State University - W. Robert Parks

W. Robert Parks

William Robert Parks (1915–2003) was the 11th and longest-serving president of ISU.


  • B.A. political science Berea College, Kentucky (1937)
  • M.A. political science University of Kentucky (1938)
  • PhD political science University of Wisconsin–Madison (1945)


  • Research & administration with the Bureau of Agricultural Economics (1940–1948)
  • Lieutenant of the United States Navy during World War II
  • Professor of government at ISU (1948–1956)
  • Professor of agricultural economics at University of Wisconsin–Madison (1956–1958)
  • Dean of Instruction at ISU (1958–1961)
  • Vice President of Academic Affairs (1961–1965)
  • 11th president of ISU from 1965 to 1986
    • Head of National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges
    • Head of Association of American Universities
    • Head of Council of Presidents
    • Head of Mid-American State Universities Association
    • Head of Association of Iowa College Presidents
    • Member of the board of trustees of the Teachers Insurance and Annuities-College Retirement Equities Fund
    • On board of directors of Norwestern Bell
    • On board of directors of Central Life Assurance
  • Honorary doctorate from Bear College (1966)
  • Honorary doctorate from Westmar College (1968)
  • Honorary doctorate from Drake University (1968)
  • Named honorary alumnus of ISU (1969)
  • Honorary doctorate from University of Kentucky (1973)
  • Library named W. Robert and Ellen Sorge Parks Library (1984)
  • Received the first Christian Petersen Design Award for his leadership in establishing the College of Design

He married Ellen Sorge (1914–1999) and had two daughters: Andrea (Van Howeling) and Cynthia (Hamilton). Ellen was the first woman to receive a PhD in political science from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

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