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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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Adrian Van Vliet, seated on the right, with early students (1858-1862) of the "Van Vliet School" which became the University of Dubuque. Photo courtesy: University of Dubuque
Dubuque College and Seminary became the University of Dubuque

UNIVERSITY OF DUBUQUE. One of Dubuque's TRI-COLLEGES, the University of Dubuque was the first effort of the Presbyterian church to bring education to Iowa residents. It was one of the earliest collegiate enterprises in the state ranking sixth in order of organization. The school was also among the first to bring a "rational method" of education for the great number of foreign immigrants coming to this country. (1) In 1852 the German Theological College and Seminary, first of its kind west of the MISSISSIPPI RIVER, was founded by Rev. Adrian VAN VLIET, a German Presbyterian minister, as a preparatory school for Presbyterian ministers. A doctoral degree in ministry was first offered by AQUINAS INSTITUTE OF THEOLOGY, University of Dubuque Theological seminary, and WARTBURG THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY in September of 1973. The first year only fifteen would be allowed to enter the program. Prerequisites for admission included at least three years of experience in some form of professional ministry and a basic professional theology degree or its equivalent. The degree was offered to increase the competency in ministry of its participants. (2) In 2015 the University of Dubuque included the undergraduate college, the graduate school, and the theological seminary.

McCormick Gymnasium dedicated December 15, 1914. Photo courtesy: Loemker, Herman J., 1868-1937, Loras College Digital Collections, accessed March 3, 2017, https://digitalcollections.loras.edu/items/show/361.
Image courtesy: Meghann Toohey: Serials, Digital Management and Archives Assistant, University of Dubuque
Image courtesy: Meghann Toohey: Serials, Digital Management and Archives Assistant, University of Dubuque

Van Vliet began the school believing that hundreds of German immigrant farmers and miners coming to the region would eventually establish homes and need ministers for their churches. He trained Jacob and A. Kolb for the ministry in the basement of his church, FIRST GERMAN PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, at 17th and Iowa STREETS, later the site of Our Lady of Lourdes Convalescent Home. (3) Van Vliet's school was unique by modern standards. He provided the students with board, room, and books without charge. As the number of students gradually climbed to eighteen, Van Vliet saw that his annual salary of $400 would no longer cover expenses. At this point, he began charging two dollars per week for board and room and purchased two buildings near the church to be used as dormitories and a kitchen. Impressed by his work, friends contributed $150.00 for the school's support. (4) Rev. G. Moery, a former student, was selected as an assistant. (5)

For its first twelve years, the school was the private concern of Van Vliet. In the spring of 1864, however, its supervision came under the control of the Presbytery of Dubuque. The school was then given its first formal name, "The German Theological School of the Northwest."

The Presbyterian Church of the United States officially assumed control of the school in 1870. (6) One year later Reverend Jacob Conzett was chosen as Van Vliet's successor. The school at this time had eighteen students. Still in need of more space, the institution was transferred to the former Episcopal Seminary, a brick building on corner of 17th and Iowa, that had been purchased for $10,000. (7) Under the leadership of Dr. Conzett, the school cleared itself of all financial debt and developed an invested capital of over $50,000. The enrollment increased to twenty-four students taught by three full-time and two part-time professors. The course of study took seven years for completion. (8) This was to be the home of the school from 1872 for the next thirty-five years.

Dr. Cornelius M. STEFFENS, appointed financial secretary in 1902 and president in 1908, guided the school into expanding its curriculum. In 1902 there were four teachers and twenty-three students; the financial assets totaled $19,000. (9) From a school offering a limited number of theological studies, a liberal arts college and academy were established by 1905. College degrees were first granted in 1906.

The University of Dubuque (circa 1938) long before its tremendous building campaign. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding

The college was moved to its present location on University Avenue in 1907. Among the first buildings constructed was McCormick Gymnasium. On April 25, 1914 an estimated three hundred persons including college students, faculty, ministers and citizens assembled at the site where construction on the $60,000 building would take place. The funds raised for the building came through the efforts of President Steffens and the generosity of Mrs. Nellie F. McCormick, widow of the Cyrus McCormick, the famed agricultural implement manufacturer of Chicago. (10) Other buildings constructed included Steffens Hall and Van Vliet Hall. The college placed special emphasis on teaching principles of Christianity and democracy to the hundreds of students it accepted. In 1911 the college became coeducational.

The college became known as the German Presbyterian Theological School or the Dubuque Theological German College and Seminary. In 1916, in response to the war, the word "German" was dropped from the name of the school, and the name Dubuque College was adopted. Other reactions to the war included the use of more English in the classroom and a change in the title of the academic magazine from Der Seminarist to The Dubuque Student.

The institution's name became an issue with what became LORAS COLLEGE in 1911. The legal right to use the name Dubuque College, claimed by both institutions, ended up in the local courts. In 1918 the district court gave the Dubuque College name to the institution on 14th Street (now Loras College.) (11) The case was appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court which remanded the case back to the local court for the admission of additional testimony. Negotiations between representatives of both schools reached a conclusion which was signed on March 23, 1920 prior to the court's decision. (12)

The college officially became the University of Dubuque in 1920, as a result of the agreement, and was accredited by the Iowa Department of Education and the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools by 1923. (13)

In 1923 when the University of Dubuque was eighty-one years old, the school had an endowment exceeding $700,000. The university campus included thirty-six acres of which twenty were used for athletics. There were six university buildings excluding the heating plant. The four-story administrative building housed administrative officers, four classrooms, and laboratories. The chapel was located behind the administrative building. Severance Hall, a gift of Louis H. Severance of Cleveland, Ohio accommodated eighty-seven women, a central reception rooms, and three additional rooms. McCormick Gymnasium contained offices of professors of physical education, trophy room, gymnasium and gallery, locker rooms, showers, and a swimming pool. Peters Commons, a gift of Frank H. Peters of St. Louis, contained the living quarters of the matron, the department of music, and a dining hall that could be used as a large auditorium. Van Vliet Divinity Hall, home of the seminary, contained thirty rooms, six classrooms, dean's office, seminary library and a chapel. The university library contained 16,000 volumes exclusive of periodicals. (14)

Dr. Frederick Wettstone, president of the university, made a major announcement on May 30, 1925:

                 In view of the fact that college athletics have become so
                 commercialized that coaches and athletic directors are
                 often paid salaries which are twice as large as those of        
                 of other departments, and since the various institutions  
                 of the various institutions of the country are endeavoring
                 to outdo each other by offering scholarships to athletes,
                 I have come to the conviction that I must either step out
                 of interscholastic competition or sacrifice my moral
                 principles. (15)

He went on to blame state institutions which offered salaries smaller institutions could not meet and which attracted athletes who wanted to compete with the best coaches. President Wettstone noted that because the teams did not rank well in athletics there was little community or alumni support.

The university's honorary rectorship program, begun in 1939 and considered unique in the United States, was actually an old European custom. Archibald MacLeish, three-time Pulitzer Prize winning dramatist and poet, received the thirteenth rectorship in 1977 and the first granted by the university since 1967.

In 1955 twelve acres of land lying between Chalmers Field and Highway 20 were purchased for the university by CARR, ADAMS AND COLLIER COMPANY, A.Y.MCDONALD MANUFACTURING COMPANY, ROSHEK BROTHERS COMPANY, and David CASSAT. A new dormitory designed to house fifty ministerial students was also announced with construction that took place along Grace Street. The use of this land created months of stories in the Telegraph Herald in the 1990s.

In 1965 three seminaries in Dubuque – University of Dubuque Theological Seminary (UDTS), WARTBURG THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY (then of the American Lutheran Church), and Aquinas Institute of Theology (Roman Catholic) formed an unprecedented threefold-seminary consortium. UDTS moved its operations to the AQUINAS INSTITUTE OF THEOLOGY in Dubuque, sharing classroom, library, and living arrangements with Dominican seminarians and faculty. This lasted until 1981, when the Dominicans moved to St. Louis, Missouri. UDTS returned to the University of Dubuque campus. In 2014 the Schools of Theology in Dubuque consortium allowed cross-registration to both Wartburg and Dubuque Seminary student bodies. (16)

The Ficke-Laird Library was officially opened in March, 1967. The naming reflected the years of dedication given to the university by Dr. Hermann Styles Ficke who joined the faculty of the English department in 1906 and except for seven years achieving adbanced degrees and travel served until his retirement in 1950. Dr. Donald Laird was the university's class valedictorian in 1919 ad went on to become internationally known for his psychological work. A formal student of Dr. Ficke, Dr. Laird went on to write forty books and teach at the University of Iowa. (17)

In 1976 Frederick A. Grant, associate professor of education and psychology at the University of Dubuque, was listed in the first edition of Who's Who is America, Child Development Professionals. Grant's areas of interest and research were the cognitive and linguistic stages of development in the child. (18)

Since 1998, the seminary offered ruling church elders distance education to provide leadership for smaller congregations. The seminary also provided continuing education for teaching elders in distance format. (19)

Goldthorp Hall, home of the university's science center, was the scene of renovation beginning in 2005. At a cost estimated at the time to be $15 million, a total of 21,000 square feet of space would be added with new labs to include state-of-the-art equipment. These would be used by students of chemistry, biology, geology, microbiology, nursing and zoology. Once the addition was completed, renovation on the original Goldthorp Hall would begin with the entire project completed in 2006. (20)

Beginning in 2007, Dubuque Seminary became the first seminary of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to offer a Master of Divinity distance education program. This accredited distance degree program allowed those interested to take two-thirds of the courses online over a four-year period. (21) The curriculum and faculty for the online M.Div. were the same as those in the residential program. In 2011 UDTS started offering the Master of Arts in Missional Christianity in both distance and residential formats. (22)

Photo courtesy:Cathy's Treasurers,156 Main, Dubuque

The University of Dubuque (UD) was involved in physical activities as early as 1866. UD competed in its first men’s intercollegiate competition - a football game in 1907, but did not begin intercollegiate competition until 1909. (23)

Nita Davison, wife of varsity coachJon DAVISON was once called into action when the junior varsity coach did not show up for a game. Using what she learned watching her husband and her assistants, Nita led the Spartans to a 71-70 win. She remains the only coach of the university with a perfect record. Photo courtesy: University of Dubuque publication.

College sports returned to the university in 1928. UD women competed in their first intercollegiate competition—a volleyball game in 1974. A year later, UD added women’s golf and they won their first women’s conference championship. Women’s basketball was officially added in 1976, but UD played the sport early in the 1900s competing in the Dubuque City League and against local club teams. (24) In 2015 the University supported 23 teams and numerous intramural sports in state-of-the-art facilities. (25) In May, 2015 the men's golf team won the IIAC golf team championship, its first in thirty-nine years. (26)

The University of Dubuque men’s soccer team shared the Iowa Conference title in 2010 have celebrated over 100 total victories (through 2018) and have lost only a few of games in the American Rivers Conference. UD players have been named All-Iowa Conference over 30 times, NSCAA All-North Region six times, All-American twice, Academic All-Iowa Conference nearly 30 times, and Academic All-Region five times. (27)

The University of Dubuque women’s soccer team is part of the American Rivers Conference (formerly the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference). The Spartans qualified for the Iowa Conference Tournament 15 out the 17 years it’s been hosted, including eleven straight. UD won the IIAC Tournament Championship in 2009 and 2014 while claiming its first Iowa conference title in 2014.

The women’s team in 2018 was nearing 200 victories in 17 years of the varsity program with a winning percentage in conference action above .500 in 5-8 league teams. UD had over 60 All-Conference honorees including two MVP's, four Coach of the Year honors, eight All-Region, 66 Academic All-Iowa Conference, eight Academic All-Regions, and one Academic All-American selection. (28)

Between 1998 and 2008 the University of Dubuque experienced phenomenal construction. Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald

The future of soccer at UD was brightened by the construction of Oyen Field which was named in honor of Kevin (C'81) and Lynne (Miller, C'78) who contributed to the construction and lighting. Located adjacent to U. S. Highway 20, the field is 80 yards wide by 120 yards long and was the second field in the Iowa Conference to have a lighted natural grass turf. The field serves both as a practice and game site for the men's and women's soccer and lacrosse teams. The summer of 2014 the natural grass was replaced with Mondo Synthetic Turf playing surface that simulates the feel and performance of real grass.

The field was dedicated on September 27, 2003. The two-level press box was added to Oyen Field in 2011. The lowest level serves as a locker room for Spartans soccer and lacrosse. The second level serves as a press box and guest suite. The roof is a platformed area for web-streaming Spartans Soccer and Lacrosse matches. (29)

The Stoltz Sports Center was constructed as an addition to the McCormick Gymnasium. The gymnasium, built in 1914, was renovated to included new racquetball courts, indoor pool, Alumni Athletic Hall of Fame, and a multi-purpose playing court.

Homecoming pin.
China used at the university in 1944. Image courtesy: Katelyn Wolff.
Steffens Hall

In 1991 the University of Dubuque, with an annual budget and endowment each exceeding $10 million, could boast that 70 percent of its faculty had attained the highest degree possible in their fields. This was an increase from 23 percent in 1970. The goal of the university administration was to assure that every faculty member had overseas educational experiences. This success was reflected by the fact that 50 percent of the university's instructors and 100 percent of the seminary's instructors participated in travel experiences outside the United States.

Class size was maintained at between fifteen and twenty students with instruction being given by faculty members. The university accepted some students with low standardized test scores who showed potential. Remedial work was then provided. Retention of first semester freshmen students was increased 9 percent when the university instituted the Freshman Seminar, a two-credit course dealing with topics including money management and cultural diversity.

It was announced in 1991 that on May 8th the school's Reserved Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) would be de-activated. Along with a similar program at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, the UD program, with 12 students, was among the nation's fifty smallest. (30)

Van Vliet Hall was one of the first buildings constructed on the campus. Photo courtesy: Loemker, Herman J., 1868-1937, Loras College Digital Collections, accessed March 3, 2017, https://digitalcollections.loras.edu/items/show/357.

The University of Dubuque was one of the first colleges in the area to offer an international studies major. In 1991 international students made up 20 percent of the freshman class. An estimated 15 percent of all students at the university came from twenty-nine countries. An additional 8 percent of the student body came from domestic minority groups. Extension programs offered by the university for working nurses seeking an MBA degree were offered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Taiwan.

The faculty of the University of Dubuque gained a unique status in the 1970s by being the first in a private institution of higher education west of the MISSISSIPPI RIVER to request collective bargaining. The "Contractual Agreement Between the Faculty Association of the College of Liberal Arts of the University of Dubuque" was signed on June 4, 1974. Articles of the agreement included: recognition, board rights, association rights, student rights and freedom, academic freedom, faculty rights and responsibilities, working conditions, academic ranks, personnel policies, promotion, tenure, dismissals, termination and resignations, personnel files, grievance and arbitration, and salary and fringe benefits. Appendixes included the joint statement on rights and freedoms of students and the salary schedule. (31)

In December 1983 the question of whether the faculty would retain collective bargaining rights went before a hearing of the National Labor Relations Board. The hearing resulted from a petition University of Dubuque administrators filed in November with the NLRB regional office in Peoria, Illinois. The non-union administrators asked the board to determine whether university faculty fell under a Supreme Court ruling that banned faculty at a private college from bargaining collectively (1980 Yeshiva decision). The Supreme Court had ruled that faculty at Yeshiva University, a private four-year college in New York were managerial employees and therefore not subject to the NLRB. University of Dubuque administrators argued that faculty exercised excessive managerial rights. The faculty at the time was bargaining as the Faculty Association of the College of Liberal Arts, an affiliate of the National Education Association and the Iowa State Education Association. (32) The action of the administration was seen as "union-busting" and picketing was carried out by members of the college faculty and teachers of the DUBUQUE EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, also an affiliate of the Iowa State Education Association. (33) When the National Labor Relations Board eventually ruled, the faculty which its collective bargaining rights. (34)

In cooperation with CLARKE COLLEGE and LORAS COLLEGE, the University of Dubuque participated in the Dubuque Tri-College Teacher Education Program in 1986. Students earned a degree from one school, although they are able to take classes on all three campuses. Bachelors and master's degrees were offered. Advanced students in the local high schools were able to take classes not offered in their home schools at the three institutions and earned hours of college credit.

The University of Dubuque seminary trained ministers for all Protestant denominations, but principally for the United Methodist and Presbyterian churches. Degrees offered included the Master of Divinity and a Master of Arts in Religion. A program for church administrators linked a Master of Divinity degree with an MBA from the College of Liberal Arts. Cooperative programs were operated with WARTBURG THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY. The Rural Ministry Program introduced students to life in rural America by requiring seminary students to participate in activities that took them into small towns much like they would probably serve during their first ministry. The university's Native American Program conducted workshops on reservations of Native Americans around the United States and offered scholarships that were accepted by members of thirty-five tribes.

Unique programs offered by the University of Dubuque included SEED, the three-week Summer Exploration of the Environment program for gifted high school students. In 1991 students from twenty-two states participated in the program while earning college credit.

The university's aviation department enabling students to earn degrees in aviation management and flight operation was ranked in the top 50 in the United States and the best in Iowa. (35) The program began in 1973 with five students and two airplanes. (36) By 1990 these numbers had grown to 117 students and 10 airplanes based at the DUBUQUE REGIONAL AIRPORT. Originally the program operated from a farmhouse near the airport and had two small hangars. A new flight operations center containing flight instructor offices, flight simulator, classrooms, flight dispatch area and student lounge was dedicated in 1990 at the airport. A new hangar housed fifteen planes. In 1988 the university captured National Intercollegiate Flying Association Section Five honors. In 1990 the program placed 16th nationally when ranked against much larger programs. (37) In 2014 the university had a Pilot Cadet Program with SkyWest Airlines. The program allowed students to work closely with SkyWest pilots and gave them a clear path to become a SkyWest first officer after becoming flight instructors at the university. (38) The program also graduated flight engineers for United Airlines and U. S. Drug Enforcement Administration pilots. (39)

In 1991 the program UD for Kids was opened to meet the needs of academically talented and gifted students in the tri-states. The first enrollment hosted 342 students. By 2011 the number had risen to 777. Beginning as a program for first-through fourth-graders which ran for a total of two week-long sessions, the project briefly expanded into four week-long sessions for first-through eighth-graders. The program in 2011 was three week-long sessions for first-through seventh graders. Participants were nominated by their schools and could choose up to two classes to attend. In 2011 classes included "Cooking for Kids, "Mini Musical," "Advanced Aviation," and "American Dolls II." (40)

University students in 1993 began a pioneering study of wetlands by installing a "fish attractor," a plastic reef, near a wetlands area off the Peosta Channel. The reef manufactured by Artificial Reef Company of Madison, Wisconsin was designed to attract bacteria which then attracted small plants and fish. The project was unique because it was thought to be the first time a university placed a reef in a freshwater environment and the first time in the MISSISSIPPI RIVER. The reef was donated to the university by Bart Jones, a board member of the company and a graduate of the university. (41)


Seeking to prosper in a competitive world, university officials announced in December 1993 that by the fall of 1995 the university would include four schools: applied programs (such as nursing), business, liberal arts and theology. The school currently had two schools--liberal arts and the seminary. The restructuring would help meet the new mission statement that the university "emphasizes communication among people of different cultures, stewardship of the environment and preparation for leadership." (42)

The financial status of the university was enhanced in February 1994 by the $1.2 million gift from Joseph A. CHLAPATY, a Chicago businessman and 1968 UD graduate. The focus of the gift was $700,000 for the expansion and improvement of such outdoor athletic facilities as Chalmers Field. (43)

The university was the beneficiary of a large gift given by Richard and Nancy Wendt which established the Wendt Center for Character Education. Part of this gift was the land upon which the COUNTRY KITCHEN restaurant and Quick Lube were later constructed. The university owned the land but not the businesses. (44) Another parcel land given to the university in 1955 was looked upon for its potential economic value beginning in 1993. The university and Dial Companies of Omaha, Nebraska planned a 24-hour grocery store and four restaurants on the ten acres it owned north of Dodge Street. The school also planned to construct 72 apartments in three buildings and a soccer practice field on five acres next to the proposed commercial development. School officials claimed the housing project could not be developed without the commercial portion. An Iowa Department of Transportation consultant suggested that neither direct nor limited access to Dodge Street should not be permitted. Landowners in the area opposed building a frontage road to connect the construction to Devon Drive. (45)

In May of 1994 the Dubuque Zoning Commission refused a second time to approve the university's plans with Dial Companies to commercially develop the ten acres of ground. The second proposal had featured the developer reducing the intensity of the project from 111,000 square feet to 84,400. University neighbors claimed the new plan bore too many resemblances to the first one proposed. (46) In 1997 the sale of eight acres along Dodge Street to an out-of-town developer failed. The land was eventually developed by the university for student housing.

The university in 1994 attempted to strengthen its religious ties by offering free tuition for dependent children of Presbyterian pastors. President John Agria felt it was also important that students not complete their education without seeing the link between the school and the church. Like many church-affiliated schools, the college had stopped in the 1960s requiring liberal arts students to attend chapel daily and take religious courses. He felt the religious influence could be encouraged through including issues of stewardship in the university's environmental education, offering religious studies as a fulfillment of the undergraduate humanities courses, and continuing to offer a campus ministry. (47)

In 1997 the Tri-Colleges, University of Dubuque, CLARKE COLLEGE, and LORAS COLLEGE chose to end operating the Tri-College Education Department begun in 1986. Among the reasons for the change were different mission statements, governance, and salary structures. At the University of Dubuque, the new education department was the largest on the campus with 140 students in the program. Two additional teachers were added to the department and a third was expected to be hired in the summer. During the years of the Tri-College Department, the university had specialized in preparing special education teachers. After the break-up, the university found itself needing to develop programs for elementary and secondary education. Cooperation between the three school continued. If particular courses were not available on the campus of one school, they could be attended at either of the other two schools. A library system that linked all three campuses still existed and a shuttle service ran between all three campuses. (48)

Beginning with his selection in 1998 as university president Jeffrey BULLOCK led the university through one of its greatest periods of challenge. In 1999, Bullock unveiled his "Plan for Transformation" to put the university on a sound financial footing, attract students, and strengthen the academic program. This refocus immediately led to cutting twenty-three majors and fourteen faculty members. The plan, however, resulted by 2013 in tremendous growth. When the plan was announced, the university had 521 students and an endowment of $13 million. In 2013 the school had an impressive list of private donors, 2000 students and an endowment nearly $90 million. (49)

Those attending the Dunlap Series have heard such distinguished speakers as economists Arthur Bums and John Kenneth Galbraith. A Speakers' Bureau, operated by the university, offered art programs, an international food festival and student speakers from dozens of countries.

The University of Dubuque (UD) commitment to service-members and veterans began during WORLD WAR II with the Navy’s V5/V12 programs, continuing to the present day with an Army ROTC Eagle Detachment, and a veteran support group for those studying on campus. Since 1999, the University encouraged Department of Defense Dependent Schools (DoDDS) graduates living overseas to join our community. The University of Dubuque has been given a “Military Friendly” rating by GI Jobs magazine, is a Yellow Ribbon School, a Vietnam War Commemoration Partner, and a Homebase Iowa employer. The University also employs faculty and staff throughout the campus community, who are veterans of all military branches. (50)

In 2014 the University of Dubuque offered the following assistance, education benefits, and veteran programs to all active duty military, veterans, and their families: (51)

       A retired veteran is on-site, providing all student veterans one-on-one
       assistance to ensure they are receiving all of their entitled benefits.
       Serving our student veterans with one of the largest Veteran Centers in 
       the region (study rooms, computers, WIFI, media hub, gaming systems, 
       lounge, and kitchen)
       The University of Dubuque participates in the Yellow Ribbon GI Education
       Enhancement Program. The University of Dubuque currently contributes 
       $10,000 (one of the highest in the area) towards the Yellow Ribbon program. 
       The Veterans Administration matches that amount for a total of $20,000 
       towards tuition.
       Waive the college application fee for veterans relocating to the area
       DODDS Partnership and MCEI Grant (Military Child Education Initiative) 
       – $3,000
               ROTC Service (Contracted Cadets) – $6,000
               Army ROTC detachment
               Offers a reduced rate for LIFE (Accelerated Adult learning Program) 
               Federal Tuition Assistance rate.
               Credit for Military service through Veterans Joint Service Transcript
               Acceptance of CLEP/DANTES exams for college credit
               Montgomery GI Bill - Active Duty (Chapter 30)
               Montgomery GI Bill - Selected Reserve (Chapter 1606)
               Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33)
               Survivors and Dependents Educational Assistance Program (Chapter 35)
               Reserve Educational Assistance Program (Chapter 1607)
               Vocational Rehabilitation - Veterans with Disabilities (Chapter 31)

In 2015 the University of Dubuque, CLARKE UNIVERSITY, LORAS COLLEGE, and the Northeast Iowa Community College were named to the 2016 Military Friendly Schools list by Victory Media. The list designated the top 15 percent of colleges, universities, and trade schools that did the most to support military service members, veterans, and their spouses as students and ensure their sucess on campus and after graduation. (52)

In the fall of 2015 a quintet of female University of Dubuque ROTC Cadet Rangers placed first among female teams from more than twenty-five other ROTC programs in Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Kansas at Camp Dodge. Winning earned the team the opportunity to compete at the ROTC brigade level against forty-two other programs in a competition at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. The female Rangers placed fourth in the competition at Fort McCoy. The competition included military competency tasks such as first aid, military weapons, navigation and a six-mile run in full combat gear. (53)

The one hundred years of African American student experiences at the university was celebrated in 2015. "Ahead of the Curve: The First Century of African American Experiences at the University of Dubuque" was directed by Brian Hallstoos, an associate professor of history at the university. (54)

An estimated five hundred applied for the program, but only twenty-five were selected for the first class of the new physician assistant program at the university in August of 2016. Orientation began in July and classes started in August in a new addition to the University Science Center. Students spent the first fifteen of the twenty-seven month program on campus. The twelve months following were to be spent in four-week clinical rotations. Graduates of the program earned a master's degree in physician assistant studies before taking a national certification examination. (55)

When the university was struggling around 1998, officials began a recruitment program from outside the 150-mile radius of the campus and reaching into communities under-served by educational opportunities. In 1998 when President Bullock came to the university, only three percent of the students came from under-represented backgrounds. Efforts to increase diversity of campus led the university by 2017 to have an estimated 31% of the undergraduate, graduate, and seminary students being minorities or non-residents. This number increased 61% since the fall of 2012. (56)

Campus map (2017)

On February 17, 2017 the University of Dubuque received one of the largest gifts in the school’s history when school officials announced a $60 million estate gift from Edward and Shirley BABKA. The money would be used to provide scholarships for students in need through the Babka Scholarship Fund. Edward Babka passed away in June. He had been a member of the university’s Board of Trustees for more than 40 years. The money would subsidize the Babka Scholarship Fund, which supported scholarships annually worth more than $15 million. The gift would also boost the school’s overall endowment to more than $150 million, the third largest of any private school in Iowa. (57)

University officials announced in May, 2018 that Barbara K. SMELTZER and her husband, Jack, had donated $500,000 toward the establishment of a new campus health center, the Smeltzer-Kelly Health Center. The facility, named for the Smeltzers and her parents Francis J. KELLY and Charlotte Ragatz KELLY was to be open within two years to provide basic health services and referrals. The new center would operate as an initial step in the partnership the university maintained with UNITYPOINT HEALTH-FINLEY HOSPITAL for acute care. Jack and Barbara also announced an multi-million-dollar estate gift that would one day endow operation of the center. (58)

In 2019 a dream of university officials for years came true. The Ed Babka Aviation Learning Center, located near the Dubuque Regional Airport, was dedicated. The 12,700-square-foot center included multiple rooms with flight simulators, space for flight instructor offices, briefing rooms where students could meet privately with instructors, classrooms, conference room, and dispatch desk. An estimated $5 million was spent on the facility with a large portion coming from Edward and Shirley Babka. (59)

The Dobson Opus 97, named for the number of organs the Lake City, Iowa manufacturer had constructed in its fifty year history. Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald

Thanks to a $2.4 million donation of John E. and Alice BUTLER, the University of Dubuque's Heritage Center in 2021 unveiled an Opus 97 organ constructed by Dobson Pipe Organ Builders of Lake City Iowa. The instrument contains 3,033 pipes ranging from 32 feet long to no larger than a pen. Called by university president Bullock the "premier performance instrument in Iowa," the organ was expected to attract organists from around the world and make possible organ training for music majors. School musical groups would be able to use the instrument to accompany their performances. Involved in the installation was a process of "voicing" each pipe so that they all sound in harmony with the acoustics of the room. (60)

In 2019 Military Times Magazine ranked the university 19th from a list of 134 institutions in the four-year college category in the "Best for Vets: Top Colleges 2020 rankings. It was the university's third consecutive year on the list. To create its rankings, Military Times, a publication based in northern Virginia, surveyed more than 130 institutions of higher education across the United States. Their detailed survey included some 150 questions about current and former service members and their families. (61)

Institutions were evaluated on five categories: university culture, student support, academic policies, academic outcomes/quality and cost and financial aid. University culture and student support carried the greatest weight while academic outcomes/quality and cost and financial aid carried the least weight. (62)

In January 2023, the university suspended its remaining Greek organizations citing decreased membership and "engagement." The university at the time had ten active members in its four local Greek organizations. In the previous decade, the university had an estimated thirteen Greek organizations with up to one hundred active members. University and Greek life representatives were scheduled to meet later in the month to discuss the future of Greek life at the university.

Loras College had a chapter of the national fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon which in January 2023 had an estimated fifteen members. A chapter of the national sorority Alpha Sigma Alpha had previously been on campus until low membership led the national office to close the chapter. (63)

See: Walter F. PETERSON, Jr.


1. "Noted Speakers on Big Program," Telegraph Herald, May 28, 1922, p. 1

2. "New Degree Program," Telegraph Herald, May 20, 1973, p. 6

3. "Noted Speakers..."

4. Ibid.

5. Oldt, Franklin T., History of Dubuque County, Iowa. Chicago: Western Historical Association, 1880, p. 580

6. "Noted Speakers..."

7. Oldt

8. Ibid,

9. "Noted Speakers.."

10. "Everything Ready for Excavation," Telegraph Herald, April 25, 1914, p. 3

11. "Report Local School Heads in Agreement," Dubuque Telegraph Herald, March 19, 1920

12. "Compromise is Reached Tuesday at Conference," Dubuque Telegraph Herald, March 24, 1920, p. 1

13. "Academic Freedom and Tenure," American Association of University Professors, Online: http://www.aaup.org/report/academic-freedom-and-tenure-university-dubuque

14. "University of Dubuque is 81 Years Old; Has Endowment Funds Exceeding $700,000," Dubuque Telegraph Herald,

15. "Sport Ethics Are Violated, Says Leader," The Telegraph-Herald, May 31, 1925, p. 1

16. "Mission and Tradition," University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. Online: http://udts.dbq.edu/aboutudts/missionandtradition/

17. "Ficke-Laird Library is Formally Opened at University of Dubuque," Telegraph-Herald, March 9, 1967, p. 12

18. "People, Telegraph Herald, July 4, 1976, p. 4

19. "Mission ad Tradition..."

20. Fuerste, Madelyn, "UD Plans to Expand Science Center," Telegraph Herald, December 2, 2004, p. 1

21. "Distance Master's Registration Information for Summer and August/Fall Semesters," UDTSLearning.net Online: http://udtslearning.net/mod/page/view.php?id=2

22. "Mission and Tradition"

23. "Men's Athletics," University of Dubuque. Online: http://www.dbq.edu/athletics/mens/

24. "Women's Athletics." University of Dubuque. Online: http://www.dbq.edu/athletics/womens/

25. Ibid.

26. "Announce Purchase of 12 Acres for UD Expansion," Telegraph Herald, March 2, 1955, p. 21

27. "Men's Soccer," University of Dubuque website. Online: http://www.dbq.edu/Athletics/MensAthletics/Soccer/

28. "Women's Soccer," University of Dubuque website. Online: http://www.dbq.edu/Athletics/WomensAthletics/Soccer/

29. "Oyen Field," University of Dubuque website. Online: http://www.dbq.edu/athletics/facilities/oyenfield/

30. Hanson, Lyn. "UD's ROTC Unit to be De-Activated," Telegraph Herald, May 1, 1991, p. 3A

31. ERIC-Contractual Agreement Between the Faculty Association of the College of Liberal Arts of the University of Dubuque and the University of Dubuque. Dubuque Univ., IA. Online: http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED104194

32. Goessl, Joan. "UD Faculty May Lose Collective Bargaining," Telegraph Herald, December 15, 1983, p. 3A

33. Lyon, Randolph. President of the Dubuque Education Association from 1982-1986

34. Interview with Ralph Scharnau, January, 2015

35. "Pilot Colleges," University of Dubuque, Online: http://pilot-colleges.com/university-of-dubuque

36. "UD Students Earn Wings, Education," Associated Press (Telegraph Herald), Nov. 5, 1990 p. 3

37. Ibid.

38. "Airline Agreements: University of Dubuque and SkyWest Airlines Pilot Cadet Program," University of Dubuque, Online: http://www.dbq.edu/academics/officeofacademicaffairs/academicdepartments/aviation/airlineagreements/

39. "UD Student Earn..."

40. Becker, Stacey,"U.D for Kids: A Good "Slime" Had By All," Telegraph Herald, June 28, 2011, p. 3

41. Bergstrom, Kathy. "UD Installs Plastic Reef," Telegraph Herald, October 14, 1993, p. 2

42. Krapfl, Mike. "UD Slates Remake: 4 Schools," Telegraph Herald, December 17, 1993, p. 1

43. Krapfl, Mike. "UD Leader: Donation a Sign," Telegraph Herald, February 8, 1994, p. 1

44. Becker, Stacey, "Country Kitchen Closing Next Week," Telegraph Herald, March 28, 2008, p. 3

45. Eiler, Donnelle. "UD Project's Link to Dodge Not Endorsed," Telegraph Herald, October 12, 1994, p 1

46. Eiler, Donnelle. "Zoning Nixes UD Proposal Again," Telegraph Herald, May 26, 1994, p. 1

47. Jerde, Lyn. "UD Tries to Make Church Ties Stronger," Telegraph Herald, April 4, 1994, p. 3A

48. Krapfl, Mike. "Teacher Education Evolves Three Ways After Tri-Colleges' Split," Telegraph Herald, January 18, 1998, p. 1. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=aEyKTaVlRPYC&dat=19980118&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

49. Becker, Stacey, "Bullock Praised for Energy, Hope in Transformation," Telegraph Herald, June 17, 2015, Online: http://www.telegraphherald.com/news/tri-state/article_a275ca4f-1841-57b4-94aa-cf65492b5257.html

50. University of Dubuque, "Veterans," Online: https://www.dbq.edu/veterans/

51. Ibid.

52. "Clarke, Loras, NICC, UD, UW-P on Pro-Military List," Telegraph Herald, November 12, 2015, p. 3A

53. Reber, Craig D. "UD's Female ROTC in Competition," Telegraph Herald, December 14, 2015, p. 1

54. Frenzel, Anthony. "History at a Personal Level," Telegraph Herald, January 12, 2018, p. 8A

55. Hinga, Allie. "Just a Few Make the Cut for UD Physician Assistant Program," Telegraph Herald, August 13, 2016, p. 1A

56. Hinga, Allie. "Diverse by Design," Telegraph Herald, November 5, 2017, p. 6A

57. "Babka Estates Donates $60 Million to UD," Online: http://kdth.radiodubuque.com/news/dubuque-tri-state-news/, February 17, 2017

58. Hinga, Allie. "Donors Give $500,000 to Launch UD Clinic," Telegraph Herald, May 21, 2018, p. 5A

59. Hinga, Allie, "UD's 'Amazing' Aviation Center Takes Flight," Telegraph Herald, October 18, 2019, p. 1A

60. Hinga, Allie, ""Pipe Dream?" Telegraph Herald, April 5, 2019, p. 3A

61. Ambrose, Graham, "WIU and the University of Dubuque Named Top Colleges for Veterans," Quad-City Times, November 11 2019, Online: https://qctimes.com/news/local/wiu-and-the-university-of-dubuque-named-top-colleges-for/article_d103e5a9-1dc8-53b0-be87-83b3beecb7b8.html

62. Ibid.

63. Kelsey, Elizabeth, "UD Suspends Greek Organizations," Telegraph Herald, January 24, 2023, p. 2A