About the College

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University is a world-class learning and research community. Iowa State’s most academically diverse college, LAS educates students to become global citizens, providing rigorous academic programs in the sciences, humanities and social sciences within a supportive personalized learning environment.

Our college has more than 7,800 students among 22 departments, the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, and more than 20 additional programs. Our faculty members teach more than 50 percent of all student credit hours at Iowa State leading to nearly 50 baccalaureate degrees, in addition to Ph.D. and master’s degrees.

The liberal arts have been central to the mission of Iowa State University since the institution was founded in 1858. The College of Sciences and Humanities was established in 1959, and the name was changed to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in 1990 to acknowledge the college’s specializations and breadth.

I invite you to browse our web site and learn more about the departments and units that make up our college. As you will see, the faculty of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences are among the institution’s finest. We have award winning teachers, scholars with national reputations for their research and creative activity, and internationally known performers. And, of course, our students are among the very best in the country.

Thank you for visiting this web site, and please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can be of any service to you.

- Beate Schmittmann, Dean

Points of Pride

A flurry of Fulbrights

Three Liberal Arts and Sciences faculty members and one student are conducting research or teaching abroad after each won a highly competitive Fulbright Award, which funds international educational exchanges for scholars, teachers, U.S. and international students, and others.

Neal Iverson, professor of geology, will travel to Norway to continue his research on drumlins – long, narrow hills that form hidden from view at the bases at glaciers.

Diane Fru, a recent psychology graduate, is in Taiwan teaching English to grade school students for 11 months.

Jim McCormick, professor of political science, will hold the title of Fulbright Flinders University Distinguished Chair in American Political Science in Adelaide, South Australia, where he will conduct research on Australian foreign policy.

Amy Erica Smith, assistant professor of political science, will travel to Brazil to study how Evangelical Christian churches mobilize and influence voters during this fall’s Brazilian presidential elections.

In addition, Nell Gabiam, assistant professor of anthropology and political science, garnered another noteworthy award – a Career Enhancement Fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation to continue her scholarly examination of Syria’s Palestinian refugee camps.

Old data, new eyes

Paul Griffiths’ current research explores a sophisticated system of mass data collection – from the 17th century. His examination of the subject has earned him a highly competitive yearlong fellowship from the National Endowment of Humanities (NEH) that will allow him to further pursue the topic by completing a new book. The fellowship ranks Griffiths, an Iowa State University history professor, in the top tier of his discipline.

Two for Gold

Two Liberal Arts and Sciences students received Goldwater Scholarships – a competitive award that is considered a premier undergraduate scholarship in mathematics, natural sciences and engineering. Thomas Knief, a senior in physics, plans to conduct research in materials science. William “Robin” Lindemann, a senior in materials science engineering and mathematics, plans to pursue a career in ceramics. The one- and two-year scholarships will cover the cost of tuition fees, books, and room and board for up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

High honors for Cyclone Army ROTC

For the third year in a row, the Cyclone Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Battalion at ISU has been named one of the top eight battalions among the 275 nationwide. It earned the best of the 3rd Brigade’s 41 battalions in the Midwest and received an elite MacArthur Award. Cyclone Battalion has won the award five times in the past eight years. The MacArthur Award is based on a combination of the achievement of the school’s commissioning mission, its cadets’ performance and standing on the Command’s national Order of Merit List, and its cadet retention rate.

Success for Stanley

Levi Stanley, assistant professor of chemistry, received a 2014 NSF Career Award, the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious award in support of junior faculty. It recognizes success in the laboratory as well as the classroom. Stanley’s catalysis research is unique in that he is “developing catalysts for an understudied chemical reaction and establishing this reaction as a platform for the synthesis of medicinally important compounds,” he said. In the classroom, Stanley allows his undergraduate students into the lab. “This fits with the theme that ISU thinks is important – getting them real experience as soon as possible.”

ISU Meteorology Chapter is No. 1 … again

For the second consecutive year, the American Meteorological Society (AMS) named ISU’s student chapter the most outstanding in the nation. It is the student organization’s fourth win in the past eight years. The AMS cited ISU’s chapter for “continued excellence in the local community, a very well rounded and creative approach to public outreach, and their commitment and success mentoring and retaining young students in the atmospheric sciences.” Iowa State’s is one of 72 student chapters in the country.

History of the College

When Iowa State first opened its doors in 1869, it was known as the Iowa State Agricultural College, and one of its primary goals was to provide technological and practical educations, in contrast to the classical, liberal arts educations offered at many other schools. At the same time, the founders of the college wanted their school to be more than a vocational school, and they worked to strike a balance between the classical liberal arts education and the wholly practical education that was then in vogue.

As a result, instruction in the natural sciences and the liberal arts has been a part of an Iowa State education from the beginning. Many of the original faculty at Iowa State were specialists in non-technical subjects, hired because of their ability to help students to a broad- based education. These faculty taught courses in physics, chemistry, English, history, and philosophy, which were seen as service courses designed to help students become well rounded in practicing the trades they were learning in their areas.

In 1898, studies in the liberal arts and sciences were given a home in the Division of Science and Philosophy, and the Division underwent several other name changes until 1959, when the service division became a college, the College of Science and Humanities, which offered students full-fledged majors in liberal arts and scientific curricula.

Today the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, which got its current name in 1990, is the largest college at the University with more than 7,800 undergraduate and graduate students.

In the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, students select from a wide and rich range of program options. The goal of the college is to prepare the student to enter the world beyond the
university with skills in reasoning, analysis, and communication; with an appreciation of history and culture, an understanding of the challenges of the future, and a sensitivity toward people and their environments. To achieve this goal, the college asks students to acquire depth in learning within disciplines of their own choice, by way of single or multiple major. Meaningful breadth in learning is acquired through elective courses and courses fulfilling general education requirements.

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is the academic home, the foundation, for many essential learning disciplines. The college provides students with all the components of a modern liberal arts education. Students may choose to study in various fields of the physical, biological, and social sciences; in mathematical disciplines; in methods and systems of communication; and in the arts and humanities.

The flexible degree requirements in the curriculum of the Liberal Arts and Sciences permit programs of study suited to a variety of interests and goals. Students having academic interests not fully met by a departmental major may pursue a major offered by one of the College’s interdepartmental programs or may apply for a major in interdisciplinary studies. The college participates in the University Honors Program; thus, students of exceptional academic promise can develop unique and challenging programs of study. The college has three curricula: a curriculum in Liberal Arts and Sciences, leading to the bachelor of arts or the bachelor of science degree; a curriculum in music, leading to the bachelor of music degree; and a curriculum in liberal studies, leading to the bachelor of liberal studies degree.

Catt Hall

Carrie Chapman Catt Hall is the home of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Opened in 1893 as Agriculture Hall, the structure was designed by Josselyn and Taylor of Cedar Rapids in the Queen Anne Revival picturesque style with steep roofs, dormer windows and patterned brickwork. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985, the building was renovated and renamed Carrie Chapman Catt Hall in 1995 in honor of the Iowa State alumna and co-founder of the League of Women Voters. Catt Hall is also the home of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics and the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies.

Plaza of Heroines website