History of the Economics Department, Iowa State University

This is the history of the Economics Department at Iowa State University

Information is from "Development of the Field of Economics at Iowa State" by I.W. Arthur, "The Historical Development of the Department of Economics at Iowa State, 1929 to 1985" written by Nancy Wolff and Jim Hayward, and "History of Economics at ISU" by G. Shepherd. Additional information is from Iowa State catalogs, Office of the Registrar, and Economics department files compiled by D. Gruca.

1858-03-22 00:00:00

Iowa ag college founded

Iowa Agricultural College was founded on March 22, 1858 when Governor Ralph P. Lowe signed a bill to establish a State Agricultural College and Model Farm.

1865-01-01 00:00:00

First campus building

The Farm House, the first building on the Iowa Agricultural College campus, was completed in 1865.

1868-05-11 00:00:00

Welch first president

Adonijah S. Welch, a United States senator from Florida, was appointed the first president of Iowa Agricultural College on May 11, 1868.

1869-01-01 00:00:00

First class arrives

The first year of coursework at Iowa Agricultural College was 1869. The first class of students – 136 men and 37 women – arrived, making Iowa State the first land-grant institution to be co-educational from the beginning.

1870-01-01 00:00:00

Farmers' institutes held

In 1870 President Welch and I.P. Roberts, professor of agriculture, held three-day farmers’ institutes at Cedar Falls, Council Bluffs, Washington, and Muscatine. These institutes were the forerunners of Iowa State’s 20th-century Extension Service.

1872-01-01 00:00:00

First graduating class

In 1872, the first class graduated from Iowa Agricultural College. Among the class an outstanding student, Edgar W. Stanton, received a Bachelor’s Degree in engineering.

1872-01-01 00:00:00

First post-grad degrees

Iowa Agricultural College offered first post-graduate degrees.

1877-01-01 00:00:00

Stanton first department head

Edgar W. Stanton, Head of the Mathematics and Political Economy Department from 1878 until 1906.

1878-05-01 00:00:00

Alumni association founded

The Alumni Association was founded by Edgar Stanton in 1878. Stanton was department head and a member of the first graduating class of 1872.

1886-01-01 00:00:00

College renamed

Iowa Agricultural College was renamed Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts in 1886.

1888-01-01 00:00:00

Ag experiment station

The Agricultural Experiment Station was established under Hatch Act. The legislation, passed in 1887, was intended to promote scientific investigation through agricultural experiment stations.

1898-01-01 00:00:00

3 courses offered

In 1898 three economics courses were offered: Elements of Political Economy, History of Political Economy, and Modern Social Problems.

1906-01-01 00:00:00

Benjamin Hibbard, dept head

Benjamin Hibbard, Head of the Economics, Sociology, History, and Government Department from 1906 until 1912.

1906-01-01 00:00:00

Iowa ag extension act

In April, 1906, the Iowa Legislature passed the Iowa Agricultural Extension Act, creating the nation’s first state-financed agricultural extension education service.

1910-01-01 00:00:00

American Farm Mgmt Assoc formed

A group of professors interested in farm management gathered in Ames and formed the American Farm Management Association, which later evolved into the American Agricultural Economics Association, and then later, in 2008, was renamed the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association.

1913-01-01 00:00:00

Econ science degrees

A four-year undergraduate degree and a Master's degree in Economic Science was offered in 1913. The first Bachelor's of Science and Master's degrees were received by Gladys Porter and Horace B. Hawthorne in 1915 and 1916, respectively.

1913-01-01 00:00:00

John Brindley, dept head

John Brindley, Head of the Economic Science Department from 1913 until 1929.

1914-01-01 00:00:00

Smith-lever act passed

In 1914 the National Smith-Lever Cooperative Extension Act was passed, providing a new cooperative relationship between state extension services and the United States Department of Agriculture.

1914-01-01 00:00:00

Department name change

In 1914 the department name changed to the Department of Applied Economics and Social Science. The 1914 catalog introduced a program in farm management under the direction of Harlan Munger. This was the beginning of the agricultural economics department. Eventually, the existence of an agricultural economics department and a general economics department led to a rivalry between the two.

1915-01-01 00:00:00

Farm management degree

In 1915 the Agricultural Division offered a five-year undergraduate degree in Farm Management under the direction of George Munger, whom Dean Curtiss had hired from Cornell University.

1917-01-01 00:00:00

E.G. Nourse, dept head

E.G. Nourse, Head of the Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology Department from 1917 until 1924.

1921-01-01 00:00:00

Three areas united

In 1921, three areas of applied economics: farm management, agricultural economics, and rural sociology, were united into one section in Experiment Station and one department under E.G. Nourse in the Division of Agriculture.

1923-01-01 00:00:00

Rural econ club

The Rural Economics Club was established in 1923. The club name was changed to the Agricultural Economics Club in 1927.

1925-01-01 00:00:00

Ag econ PhD offered

A PhD in agricultural economics was offered in 1925. The first PhD was granted to Adrian H. Lindsey in 1930.

1925-01-01 00:00:00

Hoyt joined staff

Elizabeth E. Hoyt, born in Maine, received a B.A. from Boston University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University.

1925-01-01 00:00:00

C.L. Holmes, dept head

C.L. Holmes, Head of the Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology Department from 1925 until 1928.

1927-01-01 00:00:00

Geoff Shepherd joined the department

Geoffrey Shepherd was born in 1898 in Kent, England and grew up in Canada, serving for a time in the Canadian infantry. He received a PhD in economics from Harvard University in 1932.

1928-01-01 00:00:00

ISU's reputation grew

The ag economics and general economics departments had grown very quickly in just 60 years.

1929-01-01 00:00:00

Albert G. Black, dept head

Albert Black, Head of the Economics Department from 1929 until 1933.

1930-01-01 00:00:00

Three majors integrated

In 1930, general economics, agricultural economics, and industrial economics were integrated into one department under the leadership of Albert Black.

1932-01-01 00:00:00

Depression era research

At the onset of the depression, research and extension work within the economics department increased significantly.

1933-01-01 00:00:00

Corn-hog program

In July 1933, through the joint discussion of the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA) and the National Corn-Hog Committee, the so-called corn-hog program was created by Henry Wallace and the congress.

1933-01-01 00:00:00

Rise of statistics

The USDA was interested and instrumental in developing substantial training for agricultural economists in the area of statistics.

1934-01-01 00:00:00

George Fuller, acting dept head

George Fuller, Acting Head of the Economics Department from 1934 until 1935.

1936-01-01 00:00:00

T.W. Schultz, dept head

T.W. Schultz, Head of Economics Department from 1936 until 1944.

1937-01-01 00:00:00

Comish Thorne received first PhD

The Doctor of Philosophy in general economics was first offered in 1937; the first PhD was granted to Alison Comish Thorne in 1939. She was the first woman student in the Iowa State economics department to attempt a PhD.

1937-01-01 00:00:00

Tintner joined staff

Gerhard Tintner was one of the brilliant and innovative young economists hired by T.W. Schultz.

1939-01-01 00:00:00

Heady came to ISU

The first Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture - 1956

1939-01-01 00:00:00

WWII exacted a toll

Wartime depletion of staff and the increase in the demand for research and publication on strategic wartime problems exacted a toll at Iowa State and put a strain on the remaining staff.

1943-01-01 00:00:00

Butter-oleo controversy

In the early 1940s, Department Head Theodore Schultz obtained $10,000 from the Rockefeller Foundation to finance a series of eleven bulletins entitled, “Wartime Farm and Food Policy.”

1944-01-01 00:00:00

William Murray, dept head

William Murray served as Head of the Department of Economics and Sociology from 1944 until 1955.

1946-01-01 00:00:00

Postwar boon

A surge in economics enrollment took place from 1946 until 1950, as soldiers returned from World War II.

1947-01-01 00:00:00

John F. Timmons, 1947-1983

Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture - 1972.

1948-01-01 00:00:00

Industrial econ changes

Industrial Economics became an autonomous unit within the Economics Department in 1948. During the next five years Industrial Economics became totally isolated from the rest of the department, changing into the Industrial Administration Department in 1953.

1951-01-01 00:00:00

Ag business began

Agricultural business program began in 1951.

1951-01-01 08:51:25

Ag Business Club formed

The ISU Ag Business Club was formed when the Department of Economics changed the name of the Ag Economics & Rural Sociology major to Ag Business & Rural Administration.

1955-01-01 00:00:00

George W. Ladd, 1955-1992

Charles F. Curtiss Distinguished Professor in Agriculture - 1985

1956-01-01 00:00:00

Karl A. Fox, dept head

Karl A. Fox served as Head of the Economics Department from 1956 until 1973.

1957-01-01 00:00:00

Center for ag adjustment born

In 1957 the Iowa Legislature appropriated money for the Center for Agricultural Adjustment. Today known as the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD), it was established to coordinate research, extension, and teaching activities in seeking solutions to problems in agriculture brought on by changing technology and economic development.

1958-01-01 00:00:00

Dudley G. Luckett, 1958-1995

Distinguished Professor in Liberal Arts and Sciences - 1985.

History of the Economics Department, Iowa State University

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