Diane L Brandt

Honored by:Laura Teaford
Brick location:K:22  map

By Women, For Women

Just a few decades ago, times were different for women in higher education. As recently as the 1960s, gender often played a key role in guiding a person’s field of study. Today, as women who attended school in that era contribute to Iowa State, many are especially committed to creating scholarships that enable young women to freely pursue their academic and professional passions.

Diane Brandt (1961, B.S. Textiles and Clothing) is one such alumna. Last year, through her estate, she established an endowed fund that will serve many generations of Iowa State women. Born Diane Robinson in Emmet County, Iowa, in 1938, Brandt attended high school in Armstrong, pursued a degree at Iowa State, and married fellow graduate Ray Brandt. After graduation, they moved to Cedar Falls when Ray became an engineer with John Deere. The couple divorced in 1978.

Soon after arriving in Cedar Falls, Brandt became involved in public service, volunteering on the Cedar Falls Planning and Zoning Commission and serving as president of the Waterloo Branch of AAUW, president of the League of Women Voters of Waterloo-Cedar Falls, and a board member of the League of Women Voters of Iowa. After working with these organizations for more than ten years, she ran for the Iowa House of Representatives, serving from 1975 to 1982. Diane’s friend and fellow representative Jane Teaford noted, “Diane became interested in working in the public sector to have a positive influence on the community and the state. She could always be counted on for enlightened public policy positions.”

Jean Lloyd-Jones, who was a Johnson County state representative from 1978 to 89 and a state senator from 1989 to 94, said, “We all thought very highly of Diane. She worked hard on legislation and researched bills carefully; she was often the one still working in the chamber after everyone else had gone.”

After leaving public service, in 1984 Brandt completed a degree in accounting at the University of Northern Iowa and took a position at Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, returning to Cedar Falls in 1999. Through the years, she maintained her Cyclone ties, keeping in touch with friends like Beverly Madden (1960 B.S., 1970 M.S.), a fellow member of Alpha Delta Pi Sorority. “Diane was a strong, conscientious student involved in sorority and campus activities,” recalled Madden. “Her leadership in community and state service attests to the value of a land-grant education and will serve as a role model for the women who are able to study at ISU thanks to the scholarships she's provided.”

When Brandt’s health began failing in 2003, she let Iowa State know of her desire to gift the value of her estate to the university to create endowed student support benefitting women in science, engineering, math, and other fields in which women have traditionally been under-represented. Brandt died in June 2010, and her gift was finalized in fall 2011. The funds will begin to benefit Iowa State students in fall 2012, establishing another valuable scholarship resource on campus created by women, for women.

In addition to the student funds that will bear her name, Brandt will be remembered on campus with a paver stone in the Plaza of Heroines at Catt Hall donated by Teaford, who said, “We felt that this would be the perfect tribute to Diane, honoring her enduring connection with Iowa State as well as her life achievements, especially her pioneering role in state politics during an important historic era.”

“It is moving that Diane chose to give back to the university in this way,” said Betsy Hoffman, executive vice president and provost of Iowa State. “In her lifetime, she found a way serve the community that was meaningful and enabled her to have an important impact. Now her generosity will help other women do the same, pursuing whatever paths their academic and professional interests might inspire for them.” 

Submitted on 2/28/12