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W. Robert Parks papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: RS 2/11

Scope and Content

This collection (1934-1999, undated) consists of biographical information, addresses and speeches, correspondence, minutes, and printed materials. Materials document Parks’ career at Iowa State as the Dean of Instruction, Vice President of Academic Affairs, and President of Iowa State. The files detail the relationship of Iowa State with the Iowa Board of Regents and other Regents’ Universities, student activities such as VEISHEA (Iowa State’s annual celebration) and the Government of the Student Body (GSB), and various activities of the colleges and departments within the University. Also included is information regarding Iowa State’s participation in national academic organizations, such as the Association of American Universities and the Association of Land-Grant Colleges.


  • 1934-1999, undated

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Boxes 1-39 and 44-49 are open for research; boxes 40-43 are restricted until 2050.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Consult Special Collections and University Archives


W. Robert Parks (1915-2003), a native of Tennessee, received his B.A. (1937) from Berea College in Kentucky, an M.A. (1938) from the University of Kentucky, and a Ph.D. (1948) from the University of Wisconsin. All the degrees were awarded in political science, with a minor in economics. He has also received honorary degrees from the University of Kentucky (1973), Bear College (1966), Westmar College (Iowa) (1968), and Drake University (1968).

From 1940-1948, he was employed in a research and administrative capacity with the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. During World War II, he also served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. Parks moved to Iowa State College and became a professor of government (1948-1956); a professor of agricultural economics at the University of Wisconsin (1956-1958), and returned to Iowa State as the Dean of Instruction (1958-1961). In 1961 he became the Vice President of Academic Affairs until he was named the President of Iowa State University (1965-1986). He was named President Emeritus following his retirement.

During his presidency, Parks served as head of several national organizations, including the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges, the Association of American Universities, Council of Presidents, Mid-America State Universities Association and the Association of Iowa College Presidents.

He also served as a member of the board of trustees of the Teachers Insurance and Annuities-College Retirement Equities Fund and was on the board of directors of Northwestern Bell and Central Life Assurance. In 1969, he was named an honorary alumnus of ISU, the second person so honored. He also received the first Christian Petersen Design Award for his leadership in the establishment of Iowa State University's College of Design. In 1984, the main library building on Iowa State University’s campus was named the W. Robert and Ellen Sorge Parks Library.

In 1940, Parks married Ellen Sorge (1914-1999), the first woman to graduate with a Ph.D. (1940) in political science from the University of Wisconsin. They had two daughters, Andrea (Van Howeling) and Cynthia (Hamilton).


63.4 Linear Feet (48 records center cartons, 1 oversized box, and 1 map case folder)


The collection is arranged chronologically.

Items in related collections

RS 2/0. Iowa State University. Office of the President records, 1959-2014

Processing Information

Released on 2018-11-01.

RS 2/11. W. Robert Parks papers
January 22, 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives Repository

403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames Iowa 50011-2102 United States
(515) 294-6672