University Museums

Title: Lee Kolmer, Dean, College of Agriculture, 1973-1987
Name: Portrait
Date: 2004
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 30 x 24 in. (76.2 x 61 cm)
Classification: Paintings
Credit Line: Commissioned and funded by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Location: Iowa State University, Curtiss Hall
Object Number: U2005.1
More Information
Lee Kolmer was dean from 1973 to 1987, during some of the best and some of the most challenging years for American agriculture. A boom in the farm economy in the '70s gave way to the "Farm Crisis" the next decade. Those trends were reflected in enrollment at the College, which also was hit with budget cuts. To counter the cuts Kolmer created a group called "Friends of Agriculture" to lead a drive for increased funds for ag research and the College. The effort concluded with his successor, David Topel, and the addition of $11.3 million in Experiment Station funding. Kolmer is also credited with leading the efforts that established the Center for Crops Utilization Research and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and new buildings (Meats Lab, Agronomy, Seed Science and Horticulture). Kolmer recognized the importance of distance education and helped establish the Master of Agriculture program, which begin in 1978, was established during his tenure. Kolmer earned master's and doctorate degrees in agricultural economics in 1952 and 1954 from Iowa State. He left to work for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, D.C.

Fast Facts: Kolmer was as an Iowa State faculty member and extension economist from 1953 to 1965 and then served in extension administration from 1965 to 1971, when he left to become associate dean of the School of Agriculture at Oregon State University.