Rachel Lowrie

Honored by:The English Department
Brick location:PAVER:21  map

As a girl, Rachel MacMaster Moodie was raised on the highest point in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, her grandfather's house in Pittsburgh. After attending elementary and secondary schools there, she entered the University of Pittsburgh in fall of 1930, majoring in classical history. She was graduated in August, 1933 and within a month had her first teaching position: the Pittsburgh Board of Education hired her to teach English to non-native speakers. In the fall of 1934, she entered the graduate program in English at Pittsburgh and began teaching Freshman English at the University while continuing to teach every summer for the Board. She remained a graduate student in English at Pitt until 1946. In August of that year, she received her Master's Degree in Literature; in September she married James A. Lowrie, a fellow graduate student in English; later that same month she moved with him to Ames where both became faculty in English, established a home and later adopted three children--two young German boys in 1952 and an Iowa girl in 1958. All are now adults and Rachel's daughter--like her mother, a teacher--has a daughter and a son of her own.

For over four decades, Rachel Lowrie was a teacher, mentor and caring friend to Iowa State University students staff and colleagues. She joined the Department of English as an instructor in Freshman English, spent an academic year (1949-50) teaching in the Department of Sociology, then rejoined English where she continued teaching full-time until her retirement in 1979, offering advanced courses in her areas of specialization--Romantic and Victorian British Literature--and developing courses in writing fiction while still regularly teaching English composition to each new wave of ISU freshman. The institution Rachel joined in 1946, then the Iowa State College of Science and Technology, had few women students and even fewer women faculty, especially in departments outside the College of Home Economics (now the College of Family and Consumer Sciences). During her long ISU career, Rachel firmly showed those ISU women fortunate enough to know her how to maintain both their personal and their professional identities in a predominately male environment. And she showed them the way with wisdom, grace and humor, wearing lightly her own strengths and achievements: her enormous scholarly background, grasp of contemporary political issues, retentive memory, critical acumen, esthetic discrimination and wide-ranging interests. Most important, students never left her classes doubting that they had been engaged in meaningful study under the guidance of a faculty member who cared for them deeply, while colleagues were daily reminded by her example that achieving excellence in undergraduate teaching remains the essential goal for all university faculty. As the University recognized when it honored her in 1975 with an award for Teacher of the Year, few reach that goal in the way Rachel Lowrie did.


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