Margaret Wragg Sloss

Honored by:David Halfpap and the Margaret Sloss Women's Center
Brick location:E:20 and G:16  map

Honored by David Halfpap

Dr. Margaret Sloss was the first woman to graduate from veterinary medicine at ISU, receiving her D.V.M. in 1938. She was the twenty seventh woman in the nation to complete a veterinary curriculum. Dr. Sloss was born October 8, 1901, in Cedar Rapids to Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Sloss. She came with her family to Ames in 1910 from Cedar Rapids when her father became Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds at ISC. She received a B.S. degree in zoology from ISU in 1923 and a M.S. degree in microscopic anatomy in 1932. She was on staff at ISU, retiring in 1972 as a professor of veterinary pathology. She was a pioneer in the development of photo micrographic technology at ISU and author or coauthor of 13 articles or books. Dr. Sloss holds a unique position of affection and respect among the graduates of the veterinary college. A woman of wide interests and warm humor, she has been mentor and friend to countless students, faculty, and family members.

Although dedicated to science and medicine, Dr. Sloss still found time to engage in sports and dramatics. She earned letters while in college; in basketball, hockey, and tennis. She also enjoyed swimming and golf and was an avid Cyclone sports fan. Dr. Sloss was known affectionately by colleagues and family alike as Maggie or Aunt Toot.

Dr. Sloss held the following positions in the Department of Pathology in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Iowa State University: Technician from 1922-1929; assistant from 1929-1941; instructor from 1941-1943; assistant professor from 1943-1958; associate professor from 1958-1965; professor from 1965-1972; and professor emeritus from 1972.

Professional, honorary, and social organizations recognized Dr. Sloss's talents and contributions throughout the years:

Phi Zeta, honorary: held all local offices.
Sigma Delta Epsilon: held all local offices.
Phi Kappa Phi, honorary: held all local offices.
National President of Sigma Delta Epsilon for 2 terms.
Delegate to Phi Kappa Phi National Convention.
National President of Women's Veterinary Medical Assoc. 2 terms.
Alpha Lambda Delta
Mortar Board
National Collegiate Players
Women's "I" fraternity
Alpha Delta Pi - social sorority

Recipient of the Women's Veterinary Medical Award in 1953.
Recipient of Iowa State University Faculty Citation in 1959.
Chicago Alumni Award for 1964.
Stange Award for Meritorious Service in Vet. Medicine - 1974.

Carrie Chapman Catt Award.

In 1940, the Women's Centennial Congress listed Dr. Sloss as 1 of 100 women in the U.S. following successfully professional careers.

Invitation from Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt to attend Science Women's Luncheon at the White House.

Alumni Merit Award - 1964.
Veishea Parade Marshall - 1978.

The Margaret Sloss Women's Center, located on the first floor of Sloss House, is a fitting tribute to the first woman graduate of Iowa State's College of Veterinary Medicine. The Center named in her honor houses the office of the University Committee on Women and headquarters for other campus women's programs.

Dr. Sloss's philosophy can best be summarized by a speech she gave to the graduating Veterinary class of 1972:

"Each person is a unique individual, not even identical twins are wholly alike. By the grace of God you are what you are: glory in your selfhood, accept yourself. Trust yourself. Respect yourself. You have a right to be here and each of us has important work to do. Never, never indulge yourself in self pity or spend time comparing yourself with others. What is right for you may not be right for them and vice versa. Don't stand in your own shadow; get your little self out of the way so your big self can stride forward.

The person who hopes to avoid all failure, pain, and misfortune is trying to live in a fairyland; the wise realistically accepts failures and pain as a part of life and builds a philosophy to meet them. Remember we can't all be chiefs, some of us have to be Indians. It has been said that everything cometh to him who waiteth, providing he knoweth just where to waiteth.

To remain on earth you must be useful, otherwise Nature regards you as old metal, and is only watching for a chance to melt you over. In your new adventure into the profession of Veterinary Medicine, I wish for each of you the fulfillment of your dream; success and honor to yourself, your family, and to your institution."

This paragraph written in 1972 by Dr. Frank Ramsey, on the occasion of the formal recognition of Dr. Sloss's contributions at her retirement reception:

"Your zest for life, the respect that you have from you and old, your willingness to help us all, always the life of every party, your keen wit and always being ready with an appropriate story for every occasion, and your scintillating personality are the wonderful qualities that you have and have caused us to realize that you have brightened the corners for all of us."

By David R. Halfpap
For the Sloss Family

Honored by the Margaret Sloss Women's Center

The Margaret Sloss Women's Center was so named in 1981 after a woman of consequence to the entry and growth of women veterinarians in Iowa State University's college of veterinary medicine. Born in 1901 and moving to Ames in 1910, Margaret Wragg Sloss literally grew up on the Iowa State campus where her father was superintendent of buildings and grounds. They lived across the street from the veterinary clinic and, according to Margaret's own accounts, "played over there most of the time" thus being exposed to science and learning at a very early age.

It is from this environmental backdrop and advantage that Sloss emerged in 1919 to enter Iowa State University. Along with her undergraduate work she enthusiastically balanced her time by actively participating in social activities, drama, and sports, earning parts in plays and letters in tennis, field hockey and basketball. She earned her bachelor's degree in Zoology in 1923 and her master's degree in Veterinary Anatomy in 1931. She then began breaking barriers and making history. She became the first woman to enter the college of veterinary medicine and subsequently receive her DVM degree in 1938. She had earlier joined the staff as a technician in the pathology laboratory in 1923, while pursuing her education. She remained in that position until she was promoted to an assistant in veterinary pathology in 1929. In 1941, she was again promoted this time to the position of instructor. Subsequent career promotions followed in 1943 when she became assistant professor, in 1958 associate professor, and in 1965, she became a full professor.

During the span of Sloss's career, she authored numerous articles, authored and co-authored books, received a number of awards, ran the pathology clinic laboratory, and designed and taught a class for wives of senior veterinary students. Significantly throughout this period, Margaret Sloss was influential in opening up the college of veterinary medicine to women, believing that women should compete equally with men on their grade point merits to gain entrance to the college.

Margaret Sloss retired in 1972 at the age of 70 and died in 1979. She will long be remembered for her courage and tenacity in breaking barriers for women in the field of veterinary medicine. She will also be remembered for her scientific ability. Notably, however, it is her charm and wit which she carried with her throughout her lifetime that enhances and sustains the image of a woman who was an important scientific contributor and significant pioneer for women in veterinary medicine.

Submitted on 1/4/95